It was a spur of the moment inspirational kind of thing, two big-hearted wine-loving Birminghamians with a great idea but no experience in wine auctions. They had attended the Napa Valley Wine Auction and wanted to do something similar, to benefit children’s charities in their home state. The first beneficiary was Magic Moments, a local Alabama organization granting wishes to children with life threatening medical conditions. It was 1990, nestled in the cozy comfort of Frank and Pardis Stitt’s Bottega Restaurant, attended by 75 patrons who raised around $25,000. No one knew where the auction would go from there . . . What mattered was the impact on the children and the excitement that filled the room. Something great happened that night, and over the last three decades wow has it grown.
One of the auction lots that first night was two bottles of Grace Family Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which sold for $2000. The donor called Dick Grace to let him know what his wine had sold for (a record at that time), and the following year Ann & Dick Grace participated as Honorary Chairman, and the event netted $75,000. Each auction since has had honorary chairmen from the wine community, an all-star list of very generous people making great wine.
As the auction grew, so did the list of beneficiaries and we began to expand our reach towards other local organizations serving children in need. In the Fall of 2005, we changed our name to the TumTum Tree Foundation. We wanted to better capture our mission in our name – to enrich the lives of children by providing a beacon of hope, and a respite from their daily challenges, safely beneath their own TumTum trees, as inspired by Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky.
The heart of this organization has always been the children we serve. And their spirit is captured in the participants – kind people, generous wine makers – who come together joyously to have fun and enrich the lives of children. We are the TumTum Tree Foundation. We are the longest running charity wine auction in the United States devoted to raising money for children’s charities. Our sole function is the production of the wine auction and we have raised over $15 million dollars since inception.
The TumTum Tree Foundation is America’s longest running wine auction dedicated to supporting children’s charities.
In 2021, TumTum Tree Foundation was awarded by the AFP, the Most Outstanding Charitable Organization in AL.
In 32 years, the TumTum Tree Foundation has donated $15 million to Alabama’s children’s charities.
The 2021 TumTum Tree Foundation wine auction was the most successful event to date. It raised $1.3 million to distribute among twelve beneficiary partners (which you can find at www.tumtumtreefoundation.org/current-beneficiaries).
33rd TumTum Tree Foundation Wine Auction will be held November 3-5, 2022 (details TBA soon)
The TumTum Tree Foundation’s mission is to enrich the lives of children in Alabama who face life-altering and life-threatening illnesses.
PO Box 43651, Birmingham, AL 35243