The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 23, 2013

Wine auction slated for April 5

JOHNSTOWN — A glass half full is not a bad thing when it comes to the fifth annual Charity Wine Auction.

At least 100 people are expected to take part in the fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. April 5 at Harrigan’s Cafe & Wine Deck at the Holiday Inn, 250 Market St. in downtown Johnstown.

The event will feature matchless wines and tapas to complement selections from around the world. In past events, wine sold anywhere from $200 to $1,000.

But all the money is divided equally between the United Way of the Laurel Highlands and the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.

“Last year we were able to raise slightly over $22,000, but this event has a lot of room to grow,” said Bill McKinney, United Way of the Laurel Highlands president. “It is a very casual and enjoyable way to engage with friends socially and raise money for the good of others.”

McKinney said organizers like to offer different ways to add a twist to the festive evening.

“We have come up with a unique opportunity to have a special table where people can try a tasting or a glass of high end or elite wines,” he said.

These elite wines are exclusive selections that are not normally available in the region.

“Bottles range from anywhere from $300 to $500 each,” McKinney said. “We also will have four or five sommeliers stationed at different tables to offer expert advice on each wine and food pairings.”

McKinney said the one-of-a-kind event brings together many people throughout the region who love wine and have a passionate interest in the community.

“The tasting starts at 6:30, which will be accompanied by a tasty array of tapas to complement the wine selections,” he said. “We will start the live auction at 7:45, which is entertaining in itself.”

He credits Johnstown businessmen Mark Pasquerilla and Ed Sheehan Jr. for sparking the bidding while serving as auctioneers.

“We lean on Mark’s expertise as he conveys the history of some of the wines,” McKinney said. “We also will be auctioning packages.

“In the past, outings featured golf packages which include a five-course meal,” he said. “We also have auctioned tours of vineyards in Argentina and Italy and we are working a similar trip for this year’s event.”

People have either given bottles from their personal collections or donated money to purchase the exclusive wines.

“That means that 100 percent of the proceeds goes toward supporting community needs,” McKinney said.

A silent auction will give patrons the opportunity to bid on great wine and other items from some exclusive restaurants, resorts, inns and hotels.

While the auction attracts people from Bedford, Somerset and as far away as Washington D.C., McKinney would like to see more out-of-towners attend.

Overnight accommodations are available at a special rate at Holiday Inn Downtown Johnstown for $59.99 per night plus tax.

To take advantage of the special room rate, call 535-7777 and mention the wine auction when reserving.

Tickets are $100.

“We also will accept walk-ins to the event,” McKinney said.

For information or to purchase tickets, call 535-2563 or email pgojmerac.uwlh@


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