6/8/2008 - Napa Valley, CA-Postcard-perfect weather welcomed revelers to the Napa Valley Vintners' (NVV) annual community fundraiser Auction Napa Valley (ANV) where despite a challenging economic climate, $10.35 million was raised for the area's charities, a 5% increase over 2007. Guests from across the country and around the globe gathered for the four-day event, now in its 28th year to bid on barrel futures, one-of-a-kind wines, winery vertical collections and rare bottlings of Napa Valley wines that were often partnered with vintner-hosted events, luxury items and travel at this granddaddy of charity wine auctions known as The American Wine Classic.
When the final gavel fell at the Live Auction on Saturday night from the podium at Meadowood Napa Valley, a total of 44 Live Lots, 128 Barrel Lots and 87 E-Lots were sold to winning bidders from as far away as China. "This was an amazing outpouring of generosity," said Kathleen Heitz Myers, whose family of Heitz Wine Cellars chaired this year's event. "We are thrilled to see that even in these uncertain times that people find value in returning to the Napa Valley to spend time enjoying our wines and our vintner camaraderie away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and ultimately supporting our community."
Broad Range of Bidders Support Fundraiser
Forty-four live lots were offered over the three-hour Live Auction, the centerpiece of the weekend, where the largest grossing lot was the Fund a Need, Lot #25. Here, where there was no prize to be won other than providing funds for health care for those most in need through Community Clinic Ole. Here 89 bidders raised their paddles beginning with those in for $1000, then $5000 and so on. Dana Johnson and Mark Nelson of Ovid Winery offered a challenge bid of $350,000 that was matched and exceeded in robust action that brought the final tally to more than $1.7 million.
Capturing the essence of this legendary wine region, the event showcased the Valley's renowned hospitality offered by the wineries and the community to visiting wine lovers beginning with Auction Eve parties that launched the festivities on Thursday, June 5 as a thirty-mile-long block party from Carneros to Calistoga trumpeted what some locals refer to as Napa Valley’s version of Mardi Gras. On Friday, June 6, 150 wineries poured along side sixty restaurateurs and artisan food producers at Taste Napa Valley's Marketplace under over-sized festival tents on the lawn at Trinchero Family Estates in St Helena. "This is a country fair, Napa-style, as nowhere else could one find French Laundry's Thomas Keller handing out samples from a booth, along with every other star from Napa's incomparable culinary scene," said Friday event chair, Chris Dearden of Benessere Vineyards.
Inside the cool of the cellar, the Auction action heated up as 128 barrels of wine from as many producers, were offered in a "Dutch-style" futures auction. The samples were pulled right from the barrel by the winemakers amidst the fun-filled atmosphere, bringing Barrel Auction revenues of nearly $1.4 million.
On the high-tech side of things, also on Friday, futuristic-looking computer terminals provided access to the World Wide Web where bidders on site in Napa Valley were in heated competition with bidders from around the globe in real-time pursuit of 87 online E-Auction lots. This year these lots offered not only verticals of wine and luxury items, but a also a remarkable number of rare, large-format bottles. This segment of the Auction where bidding began on May 23, brought in just over $371,000 with successful bidders from around the world.
On Saturday, June 7, comedian Jay Leno got the party started with a rousing monologue poking fun at politics, current events and pop culture. He helped open the bidding on the first few lots and chided noteworthy attendees to get in on the bidding, including Congressman Mike Thompson and first time attendee, Oprah Winfrey. His musings on American's food culture did not go unnoticed by those who were ready to savor the multi-course offerings by chefs from across the country, whose common theme was that they were favorites of the Heitz family and included: Daniel Bruce of Boston Harbor Hotel, Douglas Dale of Lake Tahoe's Wolfdales, Ken Frank of Napa Valley's LaToque, Christopher Kostow and Vincent Nattress of Meadowood Napa Valley, Alan Wong of Alan Wong's in Honolulu and sweetened by a finale of Woodhouse Chocolates by Napa Valley chocolatier Tracy Andersen.
A Tribute to Robert Mondavi
The 2008 ANV was bittersweet as iconic vintner and event founder Robert Mondavi passed away just weeks before this year's event. A celebration of his life was the centerpiece of the weekend. At the Friday Marketplace, a tribute lounge was created where photos of Mr. Mondavi were displayed and guests, vintners and volunteers could sign memory books that will be given to the family. At the Live Auction on Saturday evening, the final lot, #44, originally created by Robert and Margrit Mondavi along with a number of other vintners was to be a party to celebrate his 95th birthday changed to a party to celebrate his life. Before the bidding began, longtime Auctioneer Fritz Hatton introduced a video that provided a loving homage to Robert, followed by a toast from his brother Peter Mondavi, who captured it for all when he said, "There was no one with the drive and ceaseless energy to always do better and share his knowledge and hospitality than Bob." Hundreds of quotes, tributes and memories shared by vintners and wine lovers from around the world can be read online at napavintners.com.
Auction by the Numbers
Total Auction revenue, exclusive of ticket sales, was $10.35 million. All auction lots including luxury items, travel, meals and wine were donated by the members of the NVV and their partners. Twenty Auction Eve parties, 32 vintner-hosted private dinner parties and 15 vintner-hosted private luncheon parties were held for full package attendees. Nearly 3000 people were on property at Trinchero Family Estates for Friday's Taste Napa Valley Marketplace and Barrel Auction including hundreds of vintners and volunteers. On Saturday night there were nearly 900 in the tent including 700 bidders and 200 vintners. The Auction is accessible to a large number of bidders; there were 483 successful bidders overall compared with 386 in 2007. During the four days, there were more than 800 volunteers.
Red Wine, White Wine, Green Event!
The common thread of ANV 2008, was a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve, the first of its kind in the U.S., where land has been set aside permanently for agriculture. This local initiative provided a foundation for the role vintners and growers in Napa Valley have taken in the wine industry in sustainable, forward-thinking, green leadership. This year the NVV made a commitment to make the Auction a leader in green events as well. A minimum of 75% of the waste from the event would be diverted from landfills by reducing materials used up front, such as using electronic communications rather than printed materials; by composting, including new-in-Napa-County food waste composting, and recycling; and by providing shuttles to events and carpooling incentives for attendees, volunteers and vintners.
About Napa Valley Vintners
Now in our seventh decade, the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) non-profit trade association is the sole organization responsible for promoting and protecting the Napa Valley Appellation as a winegrowing region second to none in the world. Respect for our history reinforces our commitment to the preservation and enhancement of the Valley's land, wine, and community for future generations. We address the shared interests of our more than 300 member wineries and aspire to be the essential organization for all Napa Valley vintners.
Contact: Terry Hall, Communications Director 707-968-4217 firstname.lastname@example.org