Photography courtesy of Auction Napa Valley (see photos for individual photo credit)
“Good friends, welcoming hospitality, renowned Napa Valley wines, culinary expressions of our gardens and the humbling generosity of our bidders, vintners and volunteers came together over these last four days to create an extraordinary Auction experience,” enthused David Pearson, 2015 honorary Auction Napa Valley chair and CEO of Opus One.
Less than one year following the Napa Valley earthquake, it was awe-inspiring to witness an entire community rally together for four of the most spectacular days in the Valley. From June 4th – 7th, the vintner community and supporters from around the world raised $15.8 million in proceeds from Auction Napa Valley, the Napa Valley Vintners’ (NVV) annual charity fundraiser.
This year’s Auction Napa Valley began with vintner-hosted Welcome Parties on Thursday evening and continued on Friday with the Napa Valley Barrel Auction at HALL St. Helena.
The Barrel Auction at HALL Winery began at 11 a.m. Guests were warmly greeted with a glass of wine and the summertime sounds of the ragtime band as they entered the property. Some 2,000 guests sampled 120 coveted Napa Valley wines, directly from the barrel, while having a chance to spend time with the winemakers and vintners themselves.
The Napa Valley Barrel Auction raised a record $1.9 million through the sale of these Napa Valley wine futures. Friday’s guests also strolled the art-filled grounds at HALL, while enjoying sips of 100 current release Napa Valley wines and tasty bites from more than 40 of Napa Valley’s celebrated chefs and food purveyors.
One of Friday’s most crowd-pleasing moments was the first subtle, then enthralling flash mob performance of “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s immortal Ninth Symphony, a gift from the owners of HALL St. Helena, Kathryn and Craig Hall, and produced by Festival del Sole. More than 80 instrumentalists and vocalists from throughout the Bay area were conducted by Ming Luke poised atop an uprighted wine barrel.
Saturday’s Live Auction Celebration at Meadowood Napa Valley saw 850 guests enjoying a wine country marketplace lunch, composed by Chef Michael Chiarello, before gathering in the spacious, clear-span white tent for a rousing auction of 51 extraordinary lots of Napa Valley wines and special experiences.
The Chair’s Lot, donated by Honorary Auction Chairs, the Opus One Team, included a 35-year vertical wine collection of Opus One magnums and a two-week tour and visits with celebrated winemaking families in Napa Valley and throughout Europe. The Chair’s lot first doubled and then tripled selling to three different bidders and raising $2.4 million, becoming the charity wine event’s top grossing lot of all time.
In a surprise appearance, singer-songwriter John Legend performed his hit “All of Me” immediately prior to the sale of Live Auction Lot 31, a collaboration between Legend and Raymond Vineyards. The lot, which includes six etched bottles of Napa Valley wine and a dinner party for 30 graced by a private performance by Legend, sold for $850,000.
As a prelude to the last lot of the day, Fund-A-Need, where bidders give differing amounts of money purely to benefit the needs of children in Napa County, the crowd quieted to watch five-year old Mia dance touchingly on stage with her father. Mia, who lives with her family in Napa County, was helped in part by Auction Napa Valley funding to receive treatment for spina bifida when she was just a toddler.
As the Live Auction ended and guests strolled to a twilight dinner by renowned international Chef Pierre Gagnaire, Auction Napa Valley’s online E-Auction, which had opened on May 31, came to a close, netting a new record of $612,500.
The Next Auction Napa Valley takes place June 2-5, 2016. Tickets go on sale in late January 2016.
Auction Napa Valley funding enriches the lives of more than 90,000 clients annually in Napa County in the areas of community health and children’s education. In the past year alone, the NVV has invested $23 million in the Napa Valley community. Since its inception in 1981, the NVV has given more than $145 million in Auction Napa Valley proceeds to Napa County nonprofits.