Auction Napa Valley 2013 was not for the faint of heart, or slight of wallet, for that matter.
Put together by the 450-member Napa Valley Vintners and an army of volunteers, this year’s 33rd charity event attracted hundreds of wine collectors, business executives, movers and shakers and a phalanx of party people eager to spend money for the lots on the auction block last weekend.
Wined and dined to a fare-thee-well for a couple of days beforehand, festive bidders and guests packed a giant white air-cooled tent — which seemed larger than ever — on the fairway at Meadowood Resort shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday. A gospel choir from Oakland raised the spirits of all from an enormous stage where, any minute, auctioneers Ursula Hermacinski, Fritz Hatton and Humphrey Butler would solicit bids for the 45 lots put together by generous vintners.
In addition to eliciting bids, Hatton also recognized some landmark birthdays being celebrated this year — that of respected and well-liked Italian winemaker Piero Antinori, proprietor of Antica Napa Valley and a partner in Stags Leap Wine Cellars, who just turned 75; the indefatigable Mike Grgich, who’s celebrating his 90th; and the 100th year of the birth of Robert Mondavi, the world-renowned Napa Valley vintner who helped launch Auction Napa Valley. Cent’anni, a celebration of Mondavi’s birth, is planned in mid-June at the Oakville winery he founded.
This year’s auction took in $16.9 million, more than double last year’s amount, records show, and well above the former record of $10.5 million set during the auction’s 25th anniversary eight years ago.
All kinds of records were established, including:
• The live auction came in at $14.3 million.
• The barrel auction raised close to $1.7 million;
• The event’s e-auction brought in $430,000.
Those amounts took the leadership of this year’s auction chairs — Shari, Garen, Shannon and Brandon Staglin — with the help of many vintner friends and associates — to make it all happen. They enticed former auction attendees to return to the fold; and most who came opened their wallets for the good of auction beneficiaries.
One can only imagine how much good the record $3.7 million raised by Fund-A-Need pledges will do when checks are presented to Napa County health and youth organizations in the fall.
All but five of the auction lots sold for amounts exceeding $100,000. There was a million-dollar lot this year. Spirited bidding pushed the Dana Estates lot above $500,000. At that point, owners Hi Sang Lee and Jae Chun agreed to double the lot. The top two paddleholders — George Hamel, of San Francisco, and another who remained anonymous — agreed to pay $510,000 each for the opportunity for four couples to enjoy a first-class guided tour of South Korea. The weeklong stay includes visits to a private culinary academy, tea fields, museums and Jeju island — a geopark and biosphere reserve — plus a stop in the Napa Valley for a special tasting and dinner with the owners and three double magnums of hard-to-come-by cabernet sauvignon.
The next highest amount — $800,000 — was offered by a familiar face at past auctions, Gary Reischal of Mountain View. He will receive an invitation for eight to the first vertical tasting of 20 Harlan Estate vintages, plus four double magnums of his choice of Harlan vintages.
With a top bid of $500,000 another anonymous attendee earned the right to take home a Balthazar of 2010 Screaming Eagle cabernet sauvignon. During the 2000 auction, a dot-commer paid $500,000 for a single large-format bottle of Screaming Eagle’s 1992 cabernet sauvignon, six liters, at the time the largest amount ever paid for a single bottle of wine.
In addition to taking home this year’s 12-liter offering, the successful bidder became the first person to receive an annual allocation to purchase a 3-liter bottle of Screaming Eagle every vintage for the remainder of his life, officials said.
The auction’s sponsors, Napa Valley Vintners, permit attendees to maintain anonymity in the bidding process. Some keep their auction bids private, others do not.
One of those who chose to remain anonymous ponied up $450,000 for a trip to Italy and 40 prized bottles of wine from each of Joseph Phelps first 40 vintages.
Big boy — and girl — bids
Other bids qualifying for a Top 10 list include:
The chair’s lot, $400,000. Bill Moore of Laguna Beach, will be escorted by the folks at Staglin Family Vineyard on a five-night golfing vacation in Scotland, with visits to Skibo Castle’s private Carnegie Club, Royal Dornach and Castle Stuart courses.
Dave Copham of Fort Myers, Fla. spent $400,000 as well to take up Darioush and Shahpar Khaledi, owners of Darioush winery, on the offer of a 14-night voyage aboard the largest private residential yacht in the world. The living space for two couples aboard The World includes living and dining areas, a full kitchen, master and guest bedrooms and an expansive veranda. The lot includes dinner at the Khaledi’s Napa Valley residence and double magnums of cabernet.
A number of twentysomething bidders took part in this year’s auction. Chelsea and Rachel Adams, granddaughters of longtime auction attendee B.A. “Red” Adams, of Louisiana — who was celebrating his 80th birthday by bringing his family to the auction — bought lots donated by Dalla Valle Vineyards and Rombauer Vineyards for $340,000 and $100,000, respectively. Naoko Dalla Valle will escort them through Tokyo — including the famous Tsukiji Market — and Kyoto, where a cooking class and lunch at one of the city’s most respected ryori-ryokan inns is scheduled. The Rombauer lot included eight cases of wine and a Napa Valley stay with lunches and dinners. A member of the Adams family, Bert Adams, was the winner of a luxury car raffle. Tickets cost $1,000 each. Adams won a 1014 Audi R8 Spyder.
Julia and Katie Jackson, daughters of Barbara Banke and the late Jess Jackson, of Jackson Family Estates (which includes Lokoya), were actively bidding throughout the event and won both the Antica Antinori Family Wine Estates/Opus One and the Cliff Lede/Gargiulo Vineyards/Silver Oak Cellars/Twomey Cellars joint lots for $210,000 and $220,000, respectively.
Auction newcomer Jeffrey Miller of Miami paid $340,000 for a hunting and fishing trip to Montana and an imperial of Eisele Vineyard cabernet from Araujo Estate Wines, and another $300,000 for a week-long stay in South Africa, complete with safari, and a 10-year vertical of Favia Erickson wines. Miller was high bidder as well at $240,000 for a week in London for two couples as guests of the San Francisco 49ers.
Vintners Darioush Khaledi, owner of Darioush Winery, and Aria Mehrabi, of Mithra Winery, teamed up to offer $300,000 for the lot from Colgin Cellars’ proprietors Ann Colgin and Joe Wender, an invitation for two couples to join them at three renowned haute couture fashion shows in Paris next January — Christofer Josse, Stefan Rolland and Chanel. But they’ll have to draw lots for one double magnum of each of Colgin Cellars’ prized red wines, IX Estate and Cariad.
Film festivals and trips
Mary Miner, owner of Oakville Ranch Vineyards, liked Raymond Vineyards proprietor Jean-Charles Boisset’s offer to guide her and a friend to the Cannes Film Festival next May as well as to the upcoming Napa Valley Film Festival in November.
After Cannes — where the couple will be treated as VIPs — the Napa Valley vintner will take them to Burgundy to visit some of the region’s most historic vineyards and wine estates. Miner paid $240,000 for Boisset’s star-filled promises.
Auction regular José Nazar and a friend will take a week-long Swiss and Italian vacation with Margrit Biever Mondavi serving as tour guide. The Robert Mondavi Winery auction lot pays tribute to the late vintner on the 100th anniversary of his birth. “Cent’Anni” features business class round-trip flights on Swiss International Air, stays at Lausanne’s Beau Rivage Palace, Lake Como’s Villa d’Este, museums, shopping and dining in Milan and 100 rare bottles of wine from the Robert Mondavi winery cellars, including reserve cabernet sauvignon in 1.5-, 3-, 6- and 9-liter bottles.
Nazar’s top bid was $260,000.
Sandwich king Jimmy John Liautaud agreed to spend $250,000 to accompany Lokoya winemaker Chris Carpenter to Tuscany for an exploration of Sassicaia and Ornelia wine estates and the town of Modena, the source of the best balsamic vinegars. The offer was for three couples and includes wine.
In addition to winning the chair’s lot, Moore, of Laguna Beach, was handed the keys to a 2006 Aston Martin — with only 2,800 miles on it — when he was last man standing at $280,000 for joint lot from Bure Family Wines, Morlet Family Vineyards and Vineyard 7 & 8.
Moore also received invitations to tastings and dinners for six and a double magnum of cabernet sauvignon from each estate.
Randy Bartley of Sugar Land, Texas must be a fan of basketball great Yao Ming as he held his paddle high until the gavel came down at $240,000 for the Yao Family Wines lot. Bartley will hook up with the basketball legend — and one of the newest NVV members — for courtside seats at a Shanghai Sharks basketball game, visits to the Great Wall and Forbidden City, as well as Shanghai’s Jade Temple and classical Yuan Gardens. Also included are five bottles of the inaugural 2009 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, including salmanazar, imperial and double magnum, all signed by Yao Ming.
That inaugural release, made by winemaker Tom Hinde, is a blend of cabernet sauvignon (82 percent), merlot (8 percent), cabernet franc (7 percent) and petit verdot (3 percent), a mix of valley floor and mountain fruit. A concentrated blend with blackberry and spice on the palate, the powerful red represents its owner well. A ripe wine that should age beautifully, it sells for around $300 a bottle.
Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery will send the top bidder for its lot and guest to Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm where chef Joseph Lenn — who prepared this year’s post-auction feast — will oversee three days of meals and experiences at the mountain resort. The lot includes a 10-year vertical (2001-2010) in both magnums and double magnums of Spottswoode cabernet sauvignon. An anonymous bidder paid $280,000 for the privilege.
Shafer Vineyards will send the successful bidder and a friend to cooking immersion programs at The French Laundry and Morimoto Napa. Dinners are included at both restaurants along with wine to take home, including two imperials of One Point Five and two magnums of Hillside Select cabernet sauvignon from each vintage, 2002-2008. An anonymous bidder paid $230,000 for the Shafer package.
Barrel auction and more
Bidding on individual cases of Napa Valley wine futures in the welcome cool barrel room at Raymond Vineyards kicked off Friday morning with the usual flurry of bids. Hundreds of attendees had an opportunity to make an offer each thought would make the grade. By the end of the barrel auction Saturday night, total bids reached nearly $1.7 million, an Auction Napa Valley record, officials said. This year’s top barrel lots (each lot is 10 cases of Napa Valley wine) are:
• Shafer Vineyards: $78,000
• Realm Cellars: $61,350
• Continuum Estate: $59,200
• Ovid Napa Valley: $52,500
• Cardinale: $44,550
• Kongsgaard: $41,550
• Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery: $37,200
• Gemstone: $34,100
• Joseph Phelps Vineyards: $33,050
• Vineyard 7 & 8: $32,600
• Crocker & Starr Wines: $31,750
• Pahlmeyer: $31,750
• Promise: $31,000
The Gargiulo and Duncan families — owners of Gargiulo Vineyards and Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars, respectively, will co-chair Auction Napa Valley 2014, scheduled June 5-8.