Specially-Curated Wines Rescued From Bailey’s In Waterline Wine Auction

by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes

Going once. Going twice. Some very special wine will be auctioned off this weekend.

These specially-curated wines were rescued from the remains of Bailey’s General Store, destroyed six months ago by Hurricane Ian. They will now seed the rebuilding fund for the beloved Sanibel business in a Waterline Wine Auction on Sunday.

“The (wine) ‘rescue mission’ was completed thanks to the efforts of several volunteers who helped us hand pick each bottle off the shelf, which is more than 3,000 bottles,” said Calli Johnson, fourth generation of the Bailey family.

She had carefully curated these wines over the years, calling it a labor of love, and was completely amazed to discover their shelves relatively intact amid the destruction inside her family’s store.

“We thought it was a nice way to do something small and meaningful when so much of the storm damage is out of our control,” she said of rescuing the wine. Many of the bottles now bear a waterline mark, a reminder they survived the historic storm.

Johnson said there are some extremely allocated bottles in the rescued collection up for auction on Sunday, as well as unique, hard-to-find wines. She is carefully dividing the wine into lots and popular local auctioneer Tommy Williams will take the bids.

This commemorative auction is partly made possible by an informal group of supporters, the Friends of Bailey’s. They have come together to help inaugurate the Bailey’s rebuilding, in appreciation of its 100 years of service to our community.

“This is a perfect opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to an island business that has lasted for generations,” said Chip Roach, one of the Friends of Bailey’s. He noted the family’s history of pure philanthropy – from the heart – to make our community a better place.

Frank Bailey, founder of the business, left a legacy of charitable giving and generations later, the Johnson family carries on his philanthropic spirit. They are donating a portion of the auction’s proceeds to island non-profits serving our shattered community.

The Bailey’s Shopping Center, anchored by the general store, was originally constructed in 1965, nearly a decade before the incorporation of Sanibel. It was ready for a facelift just days before Ian struck as a powerful category four storm. The center will instead be demolished to make way for a more resilient structure.

Bailey’s General Store before it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ian. The iconic building will be razed and replaced with a more resilient structure. SC file photo by Shannen Hayes

The estimated $15 million to $20 million rebuilding project will take approximately two years.

The commemorative Waterline Wine Auction will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 2, on the Bailey’s building site, 2477 Periwinkle Way. A paddle ticket is $100, which includes admission for two people. Tickets can be purchased at the Friends of Bailey’s website here.

Guests will enjoy hors d’oeurves created by award-winning Chef Melissa Donahue of Sweet Melissa’s, and of course wine will be served. Resident Eric Pfeifer will be master of ceremonies.

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