RUTHERFORD — Some 2,200 people enjoyed a day filled with sunshine Friday at the iconic Inglenook Winery, enjoying Napa Valley wine and chef-created bites during the Napa Valley Barrel Auction.
The Barrel Auction is part of the four-day Auction Napa Valley, with the live auction festivities Saturday afternoon at Meadowood Napa Valley.
The barrel auction caves were packed and noisy. There were more than 100 vintners pouring their unique, not-yet released wines. Philippe Melka’s lot was a 2015 cabernet sauvignon blend from the Martinez Vineyard on Pritchard Hill. It was one of the more active lots, with bids reaching $5,500 for a one-case lot. Ten cases were available.
“Today is the most fun day with the tasting of wine and food, the barrel auction, and all of those great things,” said Karen Cakebread of Ziata winery. “I hope we raise a lot of money for our nonprofits and have fun.”
Regina Weinstein, marketing director at Honig Winery, said, “Having this event at one of the most historic wineries in the valley is also just the best way to showcase what we’re all about and how long we’ve been here. The history of the valley is right here.”
Outside at Inglenook, attendees were walking between the six food stations, paired with varieties, like sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and others, with vintners pouring their wines.
Jeffrey Stambor, winemaker for Beaulieu Vineyard, said, “For me, Friday is the high point of the auction, because we get to casually walk around, eat some great food, taste some great wine and reacquaint with some great people. What more could you ask for?”
Doug Shafer of Shafer Vineyards said his staff was pouring his 2015 chardonnay outside and the 2015 Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon in the barrel auction. “This weekend, I’m thinking about entertaining people visiting our Napa Valley. It’s wonderful, they come in and are so generous. They have fun, they donate a lot of money and so much money goes to the Napa Valley for health care and children’s education,” he said.
John Shafer said he has been involved with the auction since 1981, “when we raised $141,000 and thought we hit a home run. You can’t tell it from this crowd but there’s a lot of people who are hurting in the Napa Valley and anyone who needs it can get help because of the generosity of the donors and bidders at Auction Napa Valley.”
“This is one of the most philanthropic small communities on earth,” he added.
Boston’s Peter Scala, who was attending with his wife, Jennifer, said, “We come out once a year and we’re excited to be here to participate and help local charities; as well as taste some fantastic wines and discover new wines.”
At 11 a.m., Cakebread was pouring her 2016 sauvignon blanc, a wine released May 1. “I’m thinking it’s going to be a great year. I looked at the E-Auction bidding already and there’s a lot of activity and some high prices happening. I’m happy to see that and looking forward to the grand finale (the live auction) tomorrow.”
Deborah Russell Broman of Broman Cellars, said, “What’s kind of fun this year over last year is they’re pairing all the same kind of wines together with food. So you really get that food and wine combination experience, which is what wine is all about.”
Ciccio offered a California veal, roasted and chilled and served with a garlic aioli sauce with hints of Spanish tuna and anchovies. According to those serving the food it was Robert Mondavi’s favorite dish.
Also creating food for the crowd was chef Robert Bonefont Jr., of Angele. He served salade nicoise, which is tuna marinated with red wine vinaigrette, with a touch of anchovies. Brasswood’s chef David Nuno served seared scallops with carrot purée.
Register reporter Henry Lutz contributed to this story.