With the change of the seasons, my daily tasks at the winery change as well. It is spring and the grapevines are sprouting with buds, making for a beautiful and uplifting sight. My days are spent blending the previous years’ harvests as we strive to create the wines that exemplify Robert Mondavi’s vision.
The outdoor Marketplace will be filled with live music, entertainment and more than 100 vintners personally pouring bottles of some of their best wines, while restaurateurs and chefs from the region offer their finest creations.
Mr. Mondavi had such a passion for Napa Valley and for wine, and he constantly worked to share that enthusiasm with the world. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the Napa Valley Vintners’ Auction Napa Valley, a four-day event in June that raises funds for many worthy causes here in our community. He always said, “What a great pleasure it can be to give,” and he truly lived those words. Mr. Mondavi, along with Margrit Biever, brought the idea of the Auction to the Napa Valley Vintners trade association, founding the first Auction in 1981, and it is a perfect example of his giving nature, raising millions each year—much-needed funds that support a wide range of local organizations, including health care, youth services, and affordable housing non-profits. In these difficult times, the generosity and spirit of our vintner community is more important than ever.
I have been in participating in Auction Napa Valley for the past 20 years, beginning when I was at Opus One and now through Robert Mondavi Winery. Each year is an incredible experience. While the live auction on Saturday is certainly the climax of the four-day affair, this year I am especially excited about Taste Napa Valley, the Friday event taking place at Robert Mondavi Winery. This full day of activities is a celebration of the best that Napa Valley has to offer, namely its people, hospitality, and, of course, wine. We will welcome nearly 2,500 guests to the winery that day, including vintners, media, volunteers, and auction attendees. The outdoor Marketplace will be filled with live music, entertainment and more than 100 vintners personally pouring bottles of some of their best wines, while restaurateurs and chefs from the region offer their finest creations. Bids will be flying at the live barrel auction, and people from all over the world can participate via Internet in the exciting collection of “E-Lots,” which will close on Friday as well.
We will be pouring our 2007 Fumé Blanc Napa Valley during the Marketplace, tasting alongside the attendees and trying to impart a little of the history of the brand and discussing how the wine is made. The goal is to give guests a little bit of knowledge while inspiring them to bid on the lots in the Saturday night live auction and dinner, which takes place at Meadowood Napa Valley. In keeping with our philosophy that wine, food, and art are the keys to gracious living, our Robert Mondavi Winery lot will offer an amazing collection of the 2005 vintage To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as a private dinner for 12 in our Vineyard Room, and After the Party, a limited-edition signed lithograph by Andy Warhol that artfully illustrates the role wine plays in celebration and as part of our modern culinary experience.
During Saturday evening, I will be hosting a table of guests from around the country. At the dinner, I speak with them about our responsibility to the community and about the Napa Valley as a whole. All of the winemakers who will be hosting tables have similar goals: to make sure that the people at the auction have a wonderful time and therefore open their hearts and bid. (Of course, I would like them to bid on the lots we are donating from Robert Mondavi Winery!)
I hope you are able to join me for this special weekend, as it truly is a spectacular celebration of the generosity of spirit that makes Napa Valley special.
Director of Winemaking at Robert Mondavi Winery