The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts’ Bacchanal 2012.

NEW YORK - Founded in 1805 by artist Charles Wilson Peale, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America’s oldest museum and school of fine arts. With major works from some of the greatest American artists including John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, and more recently Maxfield Parrish, John Sloan, William Glackens, Everett Shinn and George Luks, the permanent collection provides a survey of the best in American art.

The art school follows the traditional study of the figure advocated by one of its leading teachers, Thomas Eakins, while at the same time encouraging students to participate on the cutting edge of contemporary art.

Robert Pepi of Bodega Valentin Bianchi receiving the Jefferson Award.

For fourteen years, PAFA has raised funds for student scholarships through its annual wine gala and auction. Great winemakers from around the world are celebrated, alongside celebrity chefs, receiving the Thomas Jefferson Award, named for the Founding Father who knew and enjoyed his wines. This year, under the banner title of We Are Family, winemaking dynasties were recognized, including Carissa and Chiara Mondavi, of Tim Mondavi’s Family Continuum Estate in Napa Valley; Pio Boffa, from the Pio Cesare Winery, in Piedmont, Italy; Jean Trimbach, of Maison Trimbach, Alsace, France; Robert Pepi, of Bodega Valentin Bianchi, from Mendoza, Argentina; together with chefs Patrick Feury and Terence Feury, were all recipients of the Jefferson Award.

(left) Pio Boffa of Pio Cesare Winery and Jean Trimbach of Maison Trimbach. (right) Chiara and Carissa Mondavi of Continuum Estate.

Winemaker dinners are held in private homes, where cellars are raided extensively, during the week of the gala. Great wines are donated to the silent and live auctions, along with opportunities to visit vineyards around the world. Many of the great names appear in the catalogue, often in Magnum format:  Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Margaux, Haut-Brion and other spectacular French appelations, not to mention some hefty Californians, such as Caymus, Far Niente, Cakebread and Silver Oak.

Delicious food, great wine pairings, elegant company and dancing until midnight make this event one of the most popular and enjoyable on the Philadelphia social calendar, and all in the cause of the next generation of artists. A votre santé!