Auction Napa Valley, the Napa Valley Vintners’ classic charity wine auction, raised almost $10 million during its 27th running this past weekend. Chaired by Bill Phelps from Joseph Phelps vineyards, bidders were offered 45 live, 106 barrel and 81 E lots of wine, vintner-hosted events and travel adventures donated by the organization’s members. The total raised was 17% higher than last year’s total, though slightly below the 2005 record of $10.5 million.
Over the years, the lots have changed from pure collections of wine and even single bottles to packages that include cars, trips and other luxury packages. That’s reflected in the change of names a few years ago, from Napa Valley Wine Auction to Auction Napa Valley.
This year, a smaller group of 800 guests including bidders and vintners enjoyed comedian Dana Carvey skewering The top—and record-setting—bid of the evening was for a six-day driving trip with Garen and Shari Staglin in Italy in two Maserati sports cars. The Staglin Family Vineyards lot stalled at $900,000, but when the Staglins threw in one of the cars, John Thompson, the chairman of Symantec, won the bid with $1.1 million.
Politicians including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who owns a vineyard in Napa Valley with her husband Paul.
The holders of paddle 5 are congratulated by Garen & Shari Staglin on winning the Staglin Family Vineyard’s Live Auction lot–and setting a new record for a single auction lot bid: $1.1 million. Copyright 2007 Jason Tinacci.
The second biggest lot had no payoff; John Shafer of Shafer Vineyards asked bidders to bid in an unprecedented “fund a need” with no reward other than supporting children’s medical care at Clinic Olé, a low cost clinic in Napa Shafer has spearheaded. Many bidders pledged $1000, then $5000 and more. The top bids came from perennial top-bidder Joy Craft of Woodside, who gave $200,000, and the Trinchero Family and Joseph Phelps Family who jointly gave $225,000. When the lot closed, it had raised $764,000 from 68 bidders.
Another impressive bid was $500,000 for three 3-liter bottles of perennial favorite Screaming Eagle—and the first ever campout at the famed but mysterious vineyard on the Silverado Trail near Oakville Crossroad.
Oakville Ranch Winery owner Mary Miner paid $360,000 for a luxury Lexus hybrid car, a trunk filled with Napa Valley wine, anda bevy of Napa Valley women to celebrate with: Nancy Andrus Duckhorn, Karen Cakebread, Paula Kornell, Margrit Mondavi, Andrea Phelps and Pat Phelps.
Other high bids included wine and dinners and other inducements: $400,000 for an 18-liter bottle of Hundred Acre wine, $380,000 for four 3-liter bottles of Harlan Estate, $340,000 for Araujo Estate Wines, $320,000 for seven bottles of Colgin Cellars wine.
In turn, Ann Colgin bid $280,000 for 10 magnums of Opus One and a trip to Bordeaux.
Three 3-liter bottles of Shafer Vineyards Hillside Select went for $250,000. Also in the top 10 was a $220,000 wine collection, trip to Singapore and tickets to the Festival del Sole music celebration in Napa Valley arranged.
In the barrel lots, there was a repeat of the continuing trend to rewarding proven producers: Shafer Vineyards garnered three times the next bid with $104,950. Pride Mountain Vineyards at $36,400, Joseph Phelps Vineyards at $35,850 and D.R. Stephens Estate at $35,000 were close behind followed by Blackbird Vineyards, Jones Family Vineyards, Nickel and Nickel, William Cole Vineyards, HDV and Etude, a rare win for a winery owned by a large firm (Fosters).
The Auction started off Thursday with about two dozen parties hosted by vintners and groups from Carneros and east Napa to Carneros, from a lobster lunch with no utensils at Flora Springs to dancing at O’Brian until 11 p.m.
Friday was the Taste Napa Valley festival held for the third year at Trinchero Family Estates in St Helena. The Taste Napa Valley event is a party for locals, too, as the tickets were an affordable $125 compared to $2,000 or $5,000 for couples attending the other events.
The Taste featured over 90 top restaurants and food purveyors and nearly 140 vintners pouring mostly whites and rosés in beautiful weather. Inside the cool cellar, 106 different wines were “thieved” from barrels by winemakers for bidders to taste so they could bid on their favorites in the wine futures barrel auction.
The barrel auction raised just over $1.23 million, 50% more than last year with almost the same number of cases offered: 1,060 total cases were purchased at an average case price of $1,161.
Also at the Friday event was the finale of the E-Auction where bidders from around the globe had been bidding since May 25. The E-Auction, now in its second year on the Internet, raised $379,000, 21% more than in 2006.
The auction also featured intimate lunches and dinners with vintners. Guests enjoyed such treats as dinner at Rubicon Estates hosted by director Eleanor Coppola—Francis was in South America—and lunch at cult favorite Jones Family Vineyards.
Ursula Hermacinski; copyright 2007 Jason Tinacci.
Ending a long run, famed auctioneer Ursula Hermacinski hung up her gavel. She joined equally famed Screaming Eagle winery last year as general manager and will focus her attention on that job. The Heitz family will chair next year’s auction with Kathleen Heitz Myers with Alice Heitz, and David Heitz, as well as their team at Heitz Wine Cellars.
Funds from the Auction will be distributed in the fall, but over the event’s, the Napa Valley Vintners have distributed nearly $70 million already to non-profit organizations.
Next year’s Auction Napa Valley will take place June 5-8, 2008. For more information, go to www.napavintners.com.
The top bidder of each winery’s Barrel Auction lot receives a branded barrel head to commemorate the win. Copyright 2007 Jason Tinacci.