Wines from restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Union Square Cafe, Maialino, and Marta are up for bids.

By Ray Isle / FoodandWine.com
April 21, 2020
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Union Square Hospitality Group

Following the news that Danny Meyer’s massively popular Shake Shack chain returned its $10 million small business loan, Meyer has now teamed up with Zachys Wine to auction off rare bottles from the wine cellars of his fine-dining restaurants to raise money for HUGS, Union Square Hospitality Group’s employee relief fund. The fund has so far awarded over $700,000 in grants. Zachys expects the sale, which offers wines from the cellars from Meyer’s restaurants Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Union Square Cafe, Maialino, and Marta, to realize in excess of $1,000,000 in addition to that. Bidding is live as of today, April 21, on the Zachys site.

“While we’re currently unable to pour these treasured wines for our guests at our restaurants, I'm heartened that we can offer wine lovers the opportunity to enjoy them from the comfort of their own homes," Danny Meyer, founder of Union Square Hospitality Group, said. "We can’t wait to welcome everyone back to the restaurants soon and I’m so grateful that Zachys has offered up their partnership to help support our employee relief fund, USHG HUGS."

Zachy’s Senior International Specialist and Auctioneer Charles Antin says the highlights of the auction include “top-end Burgundies from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Roumier, and Rousseau, as well as Bordeaux first-growths Lafite, Mouton, and Margaux.” Other top lots include collectible bottles from renowned names such as Rinaldi, Mascarello, Rayas, Guigal, and Chave. Antin adds, “But what’s just as interesting to me is a deep dive. I might look to the Cornas bottles from Robert Michel or Thierry Allemand, Domaine Tempier’s La Tourtine Bandol, or the wines of Paolo Bea, Littorai, Pierre Boisson and Bachelet-Monnot. And of course the storage and sourcing were impeccable. I had my wife’s 38th birthday scheduled at Maialino for the day after it closed its doors. So while it’s with a heavy heart we’re auctioning these wines, it’s great that we get to support USHG HUGS, and we know we’ll be back raising a glass with our USHG friends soon.”

The USHG/Zachys auction is part of a growing trend of wine auctions raising money to help restaurant workers. The #86LostWages auction, with a host of Napa wineries donating rare bottles to be auctioned on the winebid.com site, has so far raised more than $45,000 for the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation and is ongoing. Rieslingfeier, the NY-based Riesling festival, has also pivoted during this time to a fundraising auction in lieu of their usual spring event; Riesling lovers can find some extraordinary rarities, and raise money for both RWCF and the James Beard Foundation Relief fund. Bidding for those wines closes this Friday, April 24th, and can be accessed on the Rieslingfeier website. Upcoming auctions to look for will include one from The United Sommeliers Foundation to raise money for sommeliers affected by restaurant closings during the COVID-19 crisis.