Photo Credit:Jon McPherson for Napa Valley Vintners
There was revelry in the air at this year’s Auction Napa Valley, a Latin-themed affair which raised more than $14.3 million for community health and children’s education nonprofits following a red-hot weekend of generous bidding at the Napa Valley Vintners’ annual celebration.
Leading up to the actual auction—the big daddy of events during the four-day wine weekend—there were vintner welcome parties, where vintners welcomed guests into their wineries, vineyards and cellars for casual dinners before Friday’s Barrel Auction. Here, over 2000 oenophiles sipped at more than 100 current releases while nibbling on edible delights from some of Napa’s finest. New this year during the Barrel Auction was a Silent Big Board Auction, with lots like wines, Napa Valley experiences and other bespoke adventures were up for offer. Guests sampled and bid on limited-offering Napa Valley wines from the highly touted 2013, 2014 and 2015 vintages.
Friday evening, the creme de la creme of Napa headed to exclusive vintner-hosted dinners. Among the most exclusive was a Uruguayan affair hosted at the new St. Helena winery of Argentinian billionaire Alejandro Bulgheroni, who offered a small crew of diners the chance to be the first hosted dinner guests in his beautiful new barrel room.
On auction day, prior to the big affair, guests made their way to different vineyards for morning activities, such as Yoga at Hall or bocce, brunch, plein air art classes or picturesque picnics.
After getting gussied up in their Saturday finest, Napa’s elite as well as a few celebrities like Kate Upton, Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob, Courteney Cox and Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt, headed to the gorgeous Meadowood resort in Lexus luxury sedans and stretch limos to bid on some truly amazing lots.
2016 honorary Auction Napa Valley chair Agustin F. Huneeus, who led the Auction exactly 20 years after his father, Agustin Huneeus, led an exciting, confetti-filled auction that included once-in-a-lifetime lots like a dinner for 50 guests at The French Laundry paired with Robert Mondavi wines in honor of the winery’s 50th anniversary; a lot that included a jewel-encrusted Warriors NBA championship ring designed by Jason of Beverly Hills, signed jerseys from each of the team’s five starting players, an estate dinner in Napa and a VIP courtside experience at a Warriors home game courtesy of Amuse Bouche Winery and Tusk Estates; an intimate dinner at Opus One prepared by three-star Michelin Chef Yannick Alleno of Alleno Paris and Justin Cogley, Grand Chef of Relais & Chateaux Aubergine at L’Auberge in Carmel; a two-week journey to several World Heritage sites on the world’s largest privately owned yacht, courtesy of Alpha Omega; a private dinner for eight guests co-hosted by Courteney Cox (and attended by eight of her friends…Jennifer Aniston, anyone?) and Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars’ CEO David R. Duncan and Dr. Kary Duncan; a lot that included Scarecrow wines and the opportunity to take home not only a customized Chopard piece, but to also attend the luxury brand’s Oscar weekend party and a behind-the-scenes VIP weekend at Inglenook. The top lot of the day was donated by the Staglin Family, who offered a deep immersion tour into the wineries of South Africa; it initially sold for $700,000 but expanded from two couples to three for a grand total of $1.1 million.
Photo Credit: Briana Marie Photography for Napa Valley Vintners
After a sweet tribute was made to Mondavi doyenne Magrit Mondavi, Huneeeus then carried on a tradition started by Louis Martini in 1981 when he passed a golden paddle to the next auction chair by passing the torch to Eleanor Coppola, representing Inglenook Winery.
The nearly 900 guests at Auction then filled the grounds at Meadowood for an epic evening celebration. The highlight was a dinner prepared under the stars by South America’s leading chef, Francis Mallmann (whose restaurants include Garzon, 1884, Patagonia Sur, Loes Fuegos at the Faena Hotel MIami and Francis Mallman’s Siete Fuegos at The Vines Resort & Spa) who turned the Meadwood grounds into a fire pit. Racks of rib eye and whole chickens hung over flames and embers like Calder mobiles, while root vegetables cooked underground in fire pits lined with hot rocks and grapevine leaves.
The evening ended with spicy salsa dancing, live music and, of course, wine.
Photo Credit: Napa Valley Vintners
Top Live Auction Lots
‘Fund-a-Need’ which brought in $2.1 million from 100 paddle holders
‘Into Africa, Incomparably’ donated by Staglin Family Vineyards, which sold for $700,000 and was expanded to include an additional couple, for a fundraising total of $1.05 million
‘True Warriors of Wine’ donated by Amuse Bouche and Tusk Estates, which sold for $520,000 and was then matched for a fundraising total of $1.04 million
‘The Quintessential Vintner Experience’ donated by Quintessa, which sold for $170,000, was doubled and then matched for a fundraising total of $680,000
‘A Night Full of Stars’ a buy-a-spot lot donated by Opus One, which raised $660,000
‘50 Years, 50 Guests, 50 Bottles’ donated by Robert Mondavi Winery, which sold for $520,000
‘Etched Into the Hillside’ donated by Harlan Estate, which sold for $500,000
‘Luminosity’ donated by Scarecrow Wine, which sold for $440,000
‘The Grand Heist’ donated by Blackbird Vineyards and Bvlgari, which sold for $180,000 and was then doubled for a fundraising total of $360,000
‘Rooms with a View’ donated by Antica Napa Valley – Antinori Family Wine Estate, which sold for $320,000
Top Barrel Lots
Melka Wines, $62,100
Shafer Vineyards, $60,050
Vice Versa, $54,800
The Mascot, $47,750
Continuum Estate, $37,450
R. Stephens Estate, $37,250
Paul Hobbs, $36,700
Chappellet Vineyard, $36,400
Arkenstone Vineyards, $35,800
Top E-Auction Lots
Grgich Hills Estate, $17,550
Sherwin Family Vineyards, $11,550
HALL Wines, $10,000
Cliff Lede Vineyards, $8,050
Napa Valley Vintners and Riedel , $8,050
Kapcsandy Family Winery, $7,600
Beringer Vineyards, $7,050
Clif Family Winery, $6,050
Levy & McClellan, $6,050
Benessere Vineyards, $6,000
Top Big Board Lots
Lail Vineyards and Vineyard 29, $37,800
Ovid Napa Valley, $20,100
Napa Valley Vintners, $13,100
Aloft Wine, Casa Piena, Hestan Vineyards, Jones Family Vineyards, Outpost Wines, Pulido Walker, QTR, Revana Family Vineyard, Saunter Wines, Stone the Crows, Wallis Family Estate, $12,000