The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) inaugural Direct from the Cellar: Napa Valley Library Wine Auction is underway, offering 96 lots from some of the valley’s best-known producers.
Taking place online through Zachys wine auction house, it opened on Feb. 11 and culminates in a live-streamed auction on Saturday, Feb. 20, beginning at 3 p.m., Pacific time.
Last November, the Vintners announced they were ending Auction Napa Valley, the annual charity wine auction, which had raised more than $200 million over four decades for local non-profits.
The auction, founded in 1981, had taken place each year despite occasional floods and heatwaves, but in 2020 it was hit by a double blow: the coronavirus pandemic shut down live gatherings and then the fall wildfires burned the Meadowood Napa Valley resort, which had hosted the live auction each year under tents erected on the fairway.
While the Vintners mull their next steps “to leverage Napa’s world-class wines to care for the community,” they created Direct from the Cellar.
“The effects of both Covid-19, travel restrictions, restaurant closures and the California wildfires have been difficult on the wine industry, but the NVV’s goals are the same as they’ve been since 1944: to champion Napa as a premier wine region and to provide leadership in solving community issues in the Napa Valley,” the Vintners’ website states.
On the website, napavalley.wine, it’s possible to follow the auction as bids come in, vying for the lots.
As of Tuesday, one of the top draws included Lot #73 from Shafer Vineyards, a 15-vertical collection of its flagship Hillside Select, which was at $24,000.
Many of the lots are in large format bottles such as Lot #72, three 1.5 liter magnums of collectors’ favorite Screaming Eagle, which was at $26,000.
Lot #56, 25 Ways to Celebrate Oakville, comprises 25 magnums from producers in the Oakville appellation, including Harlan and Opus One. The top bid for it, on Tuesday, was $15,000. Lot #13, “Best of Philippe Melka” offering 15 magnums from 15 Napa Valley estates crafted by the in-demand winemaker’s Atelier Melka was at $8,500. Lot#70, Rutherford Dust in Magnums, offering 22 magnums, was at $6,500.
The website has the complete catalog and registration for bidding, as well as other information, such as “So what to wear to a live-stream auction?”
Whereas Auction Napa Valley live event often provided a fashion show of designer shoes and hats, for this new event, it’s recommended to “go all out — pull out your favorite yoga pants and get those warm fuzzy slippers.”
The only thing that is de rigeur? “It is required to have a delicious glass of Napa Valley wine in hand.”
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Sasha Paulsen is food and wine editor at the Napa Valley Register. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.