Wine tasting and auction returning for cause

For Mike Kappes and his kin, family is truly everything. Next Saturday, May 31, they will reiterate the importance of support from loved ones as they host their 3rd Annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction at Bear Trap Country Club, to benefit the Ryan Scott Kappes Foundation.

The nonprofit organization, established just over two years ago, recognizes critically ill children and their families experiencing some of the toughest times in their lives. Amazingly, the foundation has already managed to accumulate more than $200,000 to support families through their hardships.

“One in every 100 children born will be diagnosed with a serious heart condition,” explained Mike Kappes, whose nephew, Ryan Scott Kappes, passed away due to a congenital heart defect only 72 days after his birth. Parents Scott and Karie spent day and night away from their jobs and home to be at the hospital with their son, a distressing situation for anyone, with physical, emotional and financial tolls setting in.

“We’re there for the families who cannot be there together. We’re not picking up all the medical bills and those things, but helping them out with hotel stays and travel, lodging and living expenses,” said Mike Kappes.

Shortly after Ryan’s death, the foundation in his honor was launched, with the ambition to help families in similar adversity.

“These events have really raised awareness,” said Mike Kappes. “People realize the extent of families that this benefits. They see that there are so many families out there, trying to be with the ones they love, just like we were.”

The Kappes family, which owns Beach Wines and Liquors in Bethany, is bringing their proficiency and devotion to next weekend’s event, which promises everything from food, wine and refreshments to music, door prizes and artwork.

Those attending will have a chance to sample more than 100 wines, including some of the most recognized and respected names in the business, such as Silver Oak, Shafer, Caymus Special Selection, Ducru Beaucaillou and Cos D’Estournel.

“There are going to be some really nice, high-end wines” Mike Kappes said. “It gives people the chance to try some kinds that they normally wouldn’t.”

Saturday’s event will offer something for everyone, with chances at golf and restaurant packages, nice wines, bottles signed by the winemakers and owners, all auctioned off.

Last year, the Foundation debuted a local, private wine label, using talent and art from area artist Laura Hickman. Cheryl Wisbrock of Gallery One will have her art depicted on this year’s bottle of Sauvignon blanc.

“We’ll have sample bottles of that wine, and her original artwork of the label will be auctioned off, as well,” Kappes mentioned.

People will have the opportunity to place orders for the Sauvignon blanc, which is scheduled to hit the shelves at Beach Liquors in the upcoming week. Proceeds for the local wines sold at the store are contributed directly back to the foundation itself.

The Hickman-labeled chardonnay has been a huge hit since last year.

“It has really done phenomenal,” Kappes said. “We sold a lot of that one, and it’s really generated a lot of money from the foundation.”

The Kappes family has no reason to doubt that this year’s event will generate as impressive a turnout as the past two.

“The first two tastings have been very successful,” noted Mike Kappes. “We’re really excited. We have a nice setting this year at Bear Trap, overlooking the golf course, and selling tickets on Memorial Day weekend is our big thing with this event.”

Already 34 families have benefited from money raised in by the Kappes foundation. They hail from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., with other families receiving donations in Florida, Missouri, Tennessee and Hawaii.

“We’re helping families all over the country,” said Mike Kappes. “We help out locally, but our foundation is really growing, and more and more people are learning about us.”

Last year, the foundation donated $5,000 to a Ronald McDonald House in Michigan, $10,000 to a room in a Wilmington, Del., Ronald McDonald House, $10,000 to the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and $20,000 to A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital’s cardiac research,

“One-hundred percent of what we raise at these events goes right back to the foundation to help these families,” said Mike Kappes. “There are a lot of people involved, and it’s great to have that kind of recognition.”

The 3rd Annual Ryan Scott Kappes Foundation Wine Tasting and Silent Auction will run from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 31, at the Clubhouse at Bear Trap Country Club in Ocean View. Tickets cost $50 and can be purchased at Beach Liquors or through any foundation board member.

To make a tax deductible contribution, auction or monetary donation or to purchase tickets, call Mike Kappes at (302) 228-9910; Jerry Kappes, father of Mike and Scott Kappes, at (302) 228-8793; or Beach Liquors in Bethany Beach at (302) 539-7400. For more information, visit the Web site at