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Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts was hardly recognizable during the Houston Symphony‘s Wine Dinner and Collector’s Auction – in a good way. Rumor has it that Staging Solutions and the symphony’s operations team added a two-tier stage extension overnight to accommodate more than 420 guests for the 15th annual gastronomical feast. Todd Events completed the exotic scene by festooning the space with merlot and gold henna linens reminiscent of Argentinean tapestries, floating Gloriosa Lilies, and regal Chiavari chairs.
A few tried-and-true elements remained; Fidelis Quartet musicians Rodica Gonzales, Mihaela Frusina, Wei Jiang, and Jeffrey Butler serenaded arrivals during the cocktail (read: wine) and auction hour. In keeping with the “An Evening in the Southern Hemisphere” theme, enthusiasts sampled Cono Sur Sparkling (Chile), Urban Uco Torrentes (Argentina), and Pecan Stream Pebble Hill red (South Africa) while casting bids on rare pours, exclusive dinners, trips and more.
The south-of-the-border experience continued with Jackson and Company’s Peruvian ceviche, beef tenderloin filets and gnocchi served alongside wine pairings from New Zealand, South Africa, Uruguay and Argentina. Spec’s Wines, Spirits, and Finer Foods representative Bill Coates explained Lindy and John Rydman‘s selections in great detail between courses.
Blood orange polenta cake, rhubarb tarts, trifles, Pavlova and flan followed in the lobby. There, longtime supporters such as Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Joanne King Herring, Valerie and Tracy Dieterich, Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia and Margaret Alkek Williams celebrated more than $550,000 raised for symphony’s community programming with sparkling wine and Muscat from South Africa and Australia.