Tulsa Wine Weekend Toasts $40,000 Take

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The First Annual Wine Weekend in

Tulsa,

Oklahoma,

was a huge success, raising close to $40,000 for Autism Speaks. The hosts for the weekend were Greg and Tara Hughes, owners of In the Raw Sushi and Ford's Filling Station, and honorary chairs for the event were Betty and Frank Arciero, owners of EOS Estate Vineyards. The weekend events attracted hundreds of people from all over the region and featured more than 150 wines.
“I'm really happy that we were able to do something so special for Tulsa and for autistic children,” explained Tara Hughes, director of the event. “Even though it was our first year, we managed to raise a great deal of money to help Autism Speaks in their fight against this tragic condition.”

The two-night festival kicked off Friday evening, September 16, with a five-course dinner prepared by nationally acclaimed chef Benjamin Ford, culminating with a gourmet dessert by master chocolatier Stephen Howard of KoKoa. Each course was expertly paired with a unique wine from five different wineries.

Live and silent auctions were held immediately after the dinner, featuring items including tickets to Saturday Night Live and cast party, a trip to Los Angeles for the opening of Ford's Filling Station, and a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel puppy that went to a young boy with a rare type of autism. Friday night's auctions raised close to $30,000.

The Tulsa Autism Foundation held an autism seminar on Saturday morning, with topics such as treatments for autism in the home and in the classroom, government funding, and local support groups. The discussion featured experts such as Judy Curley, speech and language pathologist, Dr. Susan Howard, clinical psychologist, Carol Sollars of Med Counseling, and Michelle Wilkerson, a local psychologist. Wilkerson, along with Jennifer Miller, are the founding members of the Tulsa Autism Foundation.

The first annual Wine Weekend Wine Festival took place on Saturday evening. The evening's wine tasting featured more than 30 wineries and more than 150 wines from all over the world. Part two of the silent auction on Saturday evening raised an additional $8,000 for Autism Speaks.

“The First Annual Wine Weekend was truly a success in every way,” said Hughes. “The city of Tulsa experienced a one-of-a-kind event that will not soon be forgotten. And autistic children everywhere get a little more help in battling this debilitating ailment.”

Click to see event photo gallery.