Auction Napa Valley Raises $9.8 million at Annual Charity Fundraiser
The American Classic Wine Auction is Quintessential Napa from Start to Finish
6/10/2007 6:00:00 PM - St Helena, CA - The Napa Valley Vintners' (NVV) Auction Napa Valley (ANV) charity wine auction concluded today, raising more than $9.8 million during the annual four-day event, for health care, youth services and affordable housing non-profits. Now in its twenty-seventh year and appropriately themed “The American Classic,” the event was again the quintessential Napa Valley experience focusing on the outstanding wines from NVV member wineries, the culinary excellence of the region’s chefs and restaurateurs, the renowned hospitality of the vintners and the collaborative effort in the Napa Valley with over 800 local volunteers.
As the final gavel fell, 45 Live, 106 Barrel and 81 E lots that offered extraordinary collections of wine, vintner-hosted events and travel adventures donated by the organization's many wineries had raised more than $9.8 million. “This is a tremendous showing of generosity by our bidders who come from around the world and from our community to support these charities,” said Bill Phelps whose family and winery team chaired the prestigious fundraiser.
The auction proceedings began as soon as the over 800 guests, including bidders and vintners, were seated when comedian Dana Carvey welcomed the crowd with his infamous humor that pokes fun at current events and politicians. Not long into his program he took several jabs at Speaker of the House and Napa Valley vineyard owner Nancy Pelosi. Then, when it was brought to his attention that her husband Paul was seated near the stage, Carvey recovered with a laundry list of compliments praising the Speaker, hoping to get off the self-inflicted hot seat with Mr. Pelosi. The crowd roared and Pelosi countered that it was all in good fun.
Perhaps the most moving bidding came just before the final five lots were offered when John Shafer of Shafer Vineyards took to the stage to encourage bidders to raise their paddles in an ANV-first “fund a need.” Here with no prize to be won other than supporting children’s medical care at Clinic Ole, bidders raised their paddles to get in on the giving, beginning with those in for $1000, then those in for $5000 and so on, finally paying their top bid placed. The highest bids of the round came from perennial top-bidder Joy Craft of Woodside, CA who gave $200,000 and from the Trinchero Family and Joseph Phelps Family who jointly gave $225,000. When the lot closed, it had raised $764,000 from 68 bidders.
It was lady’s night when the NVV lot, in partnership with Lexus offered not only the pre-release of its first-ever hybrid luxury sedan with a trunk filled with Napa Valley wine, but also a cadre of lady vintners who took to the stage to add “a weekend with the girls” to sweeten the deal. In a chorus-like lineup that included Nancy Andrus Duckhorn, Karen Cakebread, Paula Kornell, Margrit Mondavi, Andrea Phelps, and Pat Phelps, the final bidder was Oakville Ranch Winery owner Mary Miner, who paid $360,000 for the Lexus and its ladies.
Breaking new records, the Staglin Family Vineyards Lot 24 surged ahead in bidding that had stalled at $900,000 for a package that included not only wine, but a six-day driving trip with the Staglins in Italy with the use of two Maserati sports cars, when winery owners Shari and Garen Staglin added ownership of one of the Maseratis if the bidder advanced to $1.1 million. A couple from Woodside, who asked to remain anonymous, raised their paddle and the gavel fell setting a new auction benchmark. The couple commented to a crowd of well-wishers; “We love what the Auction stands for and what it does for Napa Valley.”
ANV 2007 bid farewell to ever-feisty auctioneer Ursula Hermacinski, who has worked nearly every Auction since 1992. Her co-auctioneer Fritz Hatton handed her the gavel to close the final bidding of the night and the 2007 event. Hermacinski will continue to be an integral part of Napa Valley as she has joined the team at Screaming Eagle winery.
Napa Valley’s World-Class Chefs Create Masterful Meal
As guests arrived for the Saturday soiree, it was pure, classic Napa Valley with the understated elegance of a summer garden party set on the golf course at Meadowood Napa Valley. Oversized white paper lanterns hung from the trees as guests sipped sparking wine with hors d’oeuvres prepared by Napa Valley, Emmy-winning Food Network chef, Michael Chiarello. The bar was set for the rest of the evening. Dinner was served during auction bidding in the open-air tent decorated with olive boughs and garden lanterns with courses prepared by winery chefs Sara Scott and Peter Hall; Hiro Sone and Lissa Domani of Terra; Richard Reddington of Restaurant Redd; Vincent Nattress and Joseph Humphries of Meadowood; and Paul LeMieux of Auberge du Soleil.
Napa Valley’s Consummate Weekend for Foodies
Dinner on Saturday night was the culmination of a days-long food and wine extravaganza, with vintner-hosted intimate fêtes on Saturday midday and Friday night as well as the spectacular Taste Napa Valley at Auction Napa Valley on Friday midday, held for the third year at Trinchero Family Estates in St Helena. Taste Napa Valley featured over 90 of the region’s best restaurants and artisan food producers alongside nearly 140 vintners pouring wine in a festival setting with a variety of live musical performances, while inside the cellar 106 different wines were “thieved” from the barrel by winemakers for bidders to taste and bid on as part of this rousing wine futures barrel auction.
The Barrel Auction raised just over $1.23 million, a fifty percent increase over 2006 with virtually the same number of cases offered. 1,060 total cases were purchased, with an average case price of $1161. The barrel lots are bid on as individual cases, with each barrel offering representing ten cases, providing opportunities for a great number of bidders. Over 1,600 bidders joined in the fundraising, primarily in the Barrel Auction which is a perennial favorite for its rambunctious and exciting pace. Top professional sommeliers from VinTrust were on hand throughout the barrel tasting to assist bidders.
David Freed, chairman of Silverado Premium Partners, was the top bidder in the Barrel Auction, purchasing 74 cases of wine for nearly $60,000. Freed also won the Freemark Abbey lot in the Live Auction. Freed said: “We are involved in the Auction because we supply wine grapes to many of the wineries that participate, and it’s our opportunity to say thank you to them. If it helps the wineries, it helps us, and it helps the community. It’s a triple net gain to the bottom line!”
Bids Cast Around the World
Also at the Friday event was the finale of the E-Auction where bidders from around the globe had been actively bidding since May 25th for wine collections, vintner-hosted activities, luxury items and more. Advance bidding parties were held bi-coastally at Gordon Ramsay at the London NYC in New York City and at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington in Pasadena on June 1st. The E-Auction, now in its second year since going global, has grown steadily. Finishing at nearly $379,000, this represents a 21% increase over 2006.
Auction 2007 Chairs
Chairing this year’s event was the Joseph Phelps Vineyards Family, including Joseph Phelps, winery founder; his son Bill, chairman; Tom Shelton, president and CEO; Craig Williams, senior vice-president and director of winemaking; and their partners. “The theme of the American Classic seemed the purest expression of who we the vintners are in Napa Valley and what this event has become over its twenty-seven-year history. We are proud to have been a part of this incredible tradition,” said Bill Phelps.
Work on the event began more than a year ago with the Phelps team assembling a steering committee of vintners and community members to coordinate all aspects of the operation from logistics to décor and from culinary to “hoopla,” a committee dedicated to keeping the energy high. Phelps con
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