Napa Valley is in high spirits this weekend, doing what it does best – throwing a four-day party.
This one, hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners, has attracted 2,000 guests, most of whom attended today’s Barrel Auction.
Tomorrow, about half these guests will attend – and bid at -- the weekend’s central event, a live auction featuring 45 one-of-a-kind, wine-and-travel-themed lots.
Given the nature of the auction lots, and the hard work of the Staglin family, who are chairs of Auction Napa Valley this year, napaman predicts that this year will be the largest fund-raiser ever for the annual event, which, in 32 previous years, has raised more than $110 million for community services and health care.
Despite cutbacks in social services at the federal and state level, community programs in Napa Valley continue to excel, thanks to funds raised at this annual charity auction.
The Staglins have worked diligently for more than a year, traveling the globe to implore past auction winners to return once again to raise their paddles.
“There are many lots to tempt attendees this year,” Garen Staglin told napaman. “We’re looking for the irrational generosity of bidders to fund Napa Valley charities.”
Bruce Cakebread, president of Napa Valley Vintners, said that how much is raised is not the concern, “it’s raising enough to be able to continue to fund community projects we’ve undertaken – things like children’s health care, and English language training.”
Given the Staglins’ skills at fundraising, Napaman confidently predicts that under their stewardship, this weekend’s charity auction will zoom past the previous high-water mark of $10.2 million raised at a single wine auction. Napaman predicts that the event will raise $12 to $13 million.
An ooooh... the lots!
In addition to bringing in bidders, the Staglins have also encouraged exceptional individuals to donate exceptional gifts. As a result, at tomorrow’s auction, guests will be able to bid on:
+ A plane trip to London with the San Francisco 49ers
+ Trips to Scotland, to South Korea, to France or to Italy, the latter hosted by Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and Marchese Piero Antinori, who are respectively co-owners of Opus One and Antica wineries in Napa Valley
+ A cruise on the world’s largest mega-yacht
+ Take a group of 12 to a Giants ballgame in San Francisco – and watch from the luxury box of the Giant’s President and CEO, courtesy of Jones Family Vineyards
+ A cruise to the Arctic Circle
+ Lamborghini Gallardo track driving experience for four – and then private jet to Emilia–Romagna for a week of private touring with Beth Nickel of Far Niente
+ And there is even one lot with nothing more than a single bottle of wine. But what a bottle and what a wine: a 12-liter Balthazar of Screaming Eagle
But that’s what’s on the auction block tomorrow. Today’s party – thrown amidst blocs of Cabernet vines at Raymond Vineyards – was all about the Barrel Auction.
The host of today’s event was Jean-Charles Boisset, who purchased the famed Raymond Vineyard four years ago and who has sculpted it into a prized property.
At today’s barrel auction, bidders competed for highly prized cases of (mostly) Cabernet; they made as much noise and hoopla as fans at a San Francisco 49ers/Oakland Raiders game. Only no one painted his face orange today, or dressed up in a pirate’s outfit.
To attend today’s barrel auction and food/wine Showcase, guests paid $500 each.
Wines that I tasted, which stood out from among 100 different barrel offerings, included the 2011 O’Shaughnessy Estate Petite Verdot, the 2012 Ovid Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2012 Continuum from Pritchard Hill, which Tim Mondavi calls a “red table wine,” which is like calling a Maserati “a car for running errands.”
Between placing bids for cases of wine that won’t be bottled for one-to two-years, guests today enjoyed the fare of more than 40 top Napa Valley restaurants and food purveyors.
Napa Valley Vintners, which hosted the weekend wine auction, is the non-profit, trade association that promote and protects the Napa Valley wine appellation. The association represents more than 450 local wineries.
Besides all the barrel lots, the online E-lots, and tomorrow’s live lots, there was one other gaming opportunity for guests: the could buy a raffle ticket for $1000 and win this $130,000 Audi R8 Spyder. Only 500 tickets were made available and by the end of today, more than half were sold.
Do not despair if you live out of town, or missed today’s barrel brouhaha; you can still participate in the bidding fun.
Wine lovers around the world can still bid for more than 170 unique wine lots on the web at the event’s E-Auction. The action is LIVE – go to auctionnapavalley.org.
The E-Auction runs until 6 pm PDT Sunday, and ends in four consecutive waves separated by minutes.
Odds and ends
Unusual shots I liked from the day:
One “tat” reads:
I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
Who said it, Kristen?
“I got it from the marketing guru Bill Cosby, not the TV comedian,” says Kristen.
The other “tat” reads:
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
Who said it, Kristen?
In terms of wisdom and sagesse, this winemaker's got a leg up on others...