Signs of an Economic Recovery? A Pulse-Racing Four Days of AHA Events

The American Heart Association’s annual charity gala features $2,000 tickets and $22,000 trips.

By: Carol Ross Joynt

The American Heart Association tonight begins not a one-day or two-day fundraiser, but a four-day extravaganza of wine tastings, dinners, auctions and a gala. The tickets range in price from $250 up to $2,000 per person. Yes, we see this as another sign of economic recovery--or at least a way to become poorer fast but with a good buzz on.

Tonight's event, at Charlie Palmer Steak, costs $500 per person and is a chance for Washington wine connoisseurs to bring, show off, and share bottles from their own collections. Tomorrow offers a series of wine dinners, including an Opus One dinner at Bourbon Steak, a Mouton Rothschild dinner at the French ambassador's residence, and a Banfi dinner at the Occidental. These precious seats go for anywhere from $400 to $2,000 per person.

Friday is the gala vintner's dinner at the Mellon Auditorium. It's $1,000 per person. Master of ceremonies Bill Plante of CBS News, quite a wine collector himself, will guide guests through a meal paired with fine wines. The event includes a live auction, and one of the items up for bid, a so-called "trip of a lifetime" to Australia and New Zealand, has an estimated value of $22,000. There's also a jeroboam of Chateau Mouton Rothschild from the epic 2000 vintage, estimated at $10,000. There are items at lower estimates, but not a whole lot lower.

Saturday at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, the AHA hosts an afternoon-and-evening-long "grand tasting and auction." Tickets for this event range from $250 to $400, not counting the almost 400 auction items available, ranging from wines, of course, to wine meals at restaurants both near and far--for example, a dinner party for 12 at McLean's Cafe Oggi, estimated at $1,000; or a weekend in Los Angeles, courtesy of Sofitel, starting at $850; or a seven-night stay for two at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, with a value of $5,100.

Bottom line: Check your bank account, check your credit card balance, and--given that this is the American Heart Association, check your pulse--then cheers!

For more on the event and what's for sale, visit the auction's website.