6/6/2011 - St Helena, CA--For the first time in its 31 year history, rain--and lots of it--fell on the main event of Napa Valley's renowned charity wine auction held on the lawn of Meadowood Napa Valley in St Helena, Saturday, June 4. While Mother Nature opened up the skies and let it pour, the bidders rallied together opening their wallets and pouring $7.3 million into auction revenue that will provide for the region's charities.
Perennial bidders John and Sandra Thompson of Woodside, CA were caught up in the excitement of the rainy Auction Napa Valley. Mr. Thompson said, "What was most interesting about this year's Auction was that, in light of the weather, people turned out and really, really opened up and had a good time. The weather didn't seem to deter the bidding at all."
Mrs. Thompson: "Actually I think it brought people together—and they had fun with it."
Mr. Thompson: "So it was an amazing experience--absolutely amazing."
The fairway at Meadowood, which has served as the Live Auction's venue since its inception in 1981, has seen typically beautiful weather with daytime highs in the low 80s most often--and even a few notable warmer years--but never rain and temperatures in the mid-50s in June, which is typically one of the three driest months of the entire year in Napa Valley.
The member vintners offered up forty lots at the Live Auction on Saturday for bidding that followed the ultimate Napa Valley picnic prepared by Napa Valley star chef Cindy Pawlcyn with inspiration from her three iconic restaurants: Go Fish, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen and Mustards Grill. Originally planning to offer open-air seating, the event organizers quickly rallied to find additional tents to create complete coverage from arrival to the main tent. So while heads were dry, the lawn turned in spots to mud and the well-planned auction fashion included rubber boots of every style and color. All of the planned 800 attendees joined the festivities.
The Live Auction opened with a flair as professional dancers took to the stage to entice bidders to raise their paddles on a collection of wine in magnum from dozens of Napa Valley producers that were packaged with professional ballroom dance lessons and a trip to the next season's finale of "Dancing with the Stars" in Hollywood. The lot sold for $70,000 to a bidder from Menlo Park, CA.
Hands-down the most heartfelt lot of the day was the one with no prize to be won other than the goodwill of helping provide for programs for children’s health and wellness: the Fund a Need Lot 24. Carrying balloons and cupcakes for a high stakes bake sale were 25 children who have benefitted from the wellness funding. Taking the stage with the youngsters was the Rombauer Family, 2011 Auction Napa Valley honorary chairs, led by patriarch Koerner Rombauer. A total of 132 bidders brought in a total of $1.1 million including five $100,000 bids.
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