Paul Franson

Paul Franson

Friday is the barrel auction for the Napa Valley Vintners’ 36th Auction Napa Valley and Saturday is the live auction at Meadowood.

The auction, once called Napa Valley Wine Auction before experiences and luxuries eclipsed wine as the major lots, started Sunday when the E-auction began for bidders around the world.

Wednesday evening, the Wine Spectator held its exclusive Magnum Party at the former Tra Vigne site, which is destined to become Charter Oak in the future. Right across the street, Farmstead hosted an industry party at the same time.

At noon that day, Scott Tracy held his tongue-in-cheek Half Bottle Party for those not invited to the Magnum Party.

Also Wednesday was the third annual young winemakers’ dinner at Meadowood.

The festivities began Thursday for most guests with welcome parties hosted by vintners at wineries and other locations.

Friday is the big barrel auction at Robert Mondavi Winery plus the opportunity to snack on treats prepared by many of Napa Valley’s best chefs.

It’s also a chance to enjoy other Napa Valley wines, including whites and rosés that are always welcome in the expected heat and as an antidote to big red barrel samples.

New this year is the silent Big Board Auction with distinctive Napa Valley wines, winemaker dinners, distinct Napa Valley experiences and other adventures.

This year, for the first time, the Wine Train will take 36 guests from its station in Napa to the auction on its new Quattro Vino train, which will soon start taking passengers to visit four wineries for tastes.

Friday night, vintners throw more dinners.

The format on Saturday has changed a bit this year, with morning and lunch events at locations other than Meadowood.

One will involve walking visits to beneficiaries of auction funds in St. Helena. Other events for guests include yoga, croquet and exploring the Napa River restoration.

The peak of the weekend is at Meadowood. It begins with sipping Napa Valley wines along with the flavors of South America prepared by chef Francis Mallmann from Argentina.

The honorary host for the auction this year is Agustin Francisco Huneeus of Quintessa Estate. His father, Chilean-born Agustin Huneeus, was chairman 20 years ago

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That year was my first auction. I was a volunteer in the graphics committee, which meant I got to carry heavy planters around the auction tent, but I met many people who remain friends and one of whom started my writing for the Register.

Following the reception on Saturday, the main event — the live auction — kicks off. We’ll all look for the biggest lots and totals, but don’t expect to set a record.

When the last gavel comes down, chef Mallmann, supported by Meadowood’s culinary team, will serve dinner followed by the after party with live music and dancing.

Sunday, the farewell brunch at Inglenook Estate will be hosted by the Coppola family, which will chair the 2017 Auction Napa Valley.

I can’t even imagine what the Coppola family might plan; maybe it will involve cannoli.

The auction is very important to the reputation of Napa Valley wines and the economy of Napa Valley, not only for the vintners and growers who are involved in producing the wines featured, but because over the years, the auction has generated more than $150 million for local causes like medical care and youth programs.

If you’d like to join in the fun but find it a bit rich for your blood, you might consider volunteering next year. The auction requires hundreds of volunteers. It’s fun, and you’ll also be contributing to our community.

Even if you’re not attending, you can bid online on the e-auction at auctionnapavalley.org. Those lots are more reasonable than the big auction lots.

And if you have enough stuff, you can also donate to the Fund-a-Need lot without getting anything but satisfaction.

CANVAS hospitality show at Cornerstone

The Concierge Alliance of Napa Valley and Sonoma (CANVAS) will hold its annual hospitality trade show showcasing the best of Napa and Sonoma for event and corporate planners and hospitality professionals at Cornerstone Sonoma/Sunset Magazine Test Campus on July 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The event includes organized site visits to three venues, a multi-course lunch from local chefs, caterers and restaurateurs, and a networking outdoor exhibit hall featuring local resources.

The event is for corporate meeting and event planners and hospitality professionals to connect with resources.

Tickets are $120 for the full day’s events or $45 for exhibit hall access only.

For information and to register, visit www.conciergealliance.com.

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Contact Paul Franson at paul@paulfranson.com.