The 34th annual Auction Napa Valley, which was just held from June 4-7, broke its record for a second year in a row by raising $18.7 million for Napa Valley community health and children's education nonprofit organizations. The auction, which is put on by the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), a non-profit trade association, lures wine and food lovers from over the world to beautiful Napa Valley to drink the best wines in the world, eat scrumptious food prepared by world-renouned chefs and bid on the finest of wines and breathtaking experiences, donated by generous NVV members, through both live, barrel, and silent e-auctions.
On Thursday, June 5, NVV members opened their homes to attendees with casual dinners all over the valley, such as Alpha Omega's succulent pig roast.
On Friday, June 6, the Barrel Auction and the Marketplace, where Napa vintners, such as Ed and I, poured great wines and Napa restauranteurs provided delicious tastes of their food, were held at the recently-remodled Charles Krug Winery. Ed and I (with help from daughter Kelly and son-in-law Jeff) poured our 2010 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon for attendees who loved it.
On Saturday, June 7, in advance of the live auction, a lunch was served at Meadowood prepared by Napa Valley rock-star chefs Stephen Barber, Michael Chiarello, Curtis Di Fede, Thomas Keller, Cindy Pawlcyn, Richard Reddington, Brandon Sharp and partners Hiro Sone and Lissa Douman and, once the auction bidding ended, a luscious meal was created by 3-Michelin-starred chef of Meadowood's The Restaurant, Christopher Kostow.
These wineries provided the wines and experiences that received the highest bids:
Barrel Auction: Brand Napa Valley $83,050
Live Auction: Raymond Vineyards $840,000
E-Auction: Continuum Estate $21,000
The theme of of this year's auction, was "Sweet Home Napa Valley," and the vintner's association really showcased what a sweet place it is to live and produce great wines in Napa Valley.
View more photos and videos here.
On Wednesday morning, June 4, the Napa Vintners' Association (NVV) lauched its theme of "Sweet Home Napa Valley" for its 2014 Auction Napa Valley at a luncheon held at Meadowood, in St. Helena. Not only were a tremendous number of NVV members in attendance but, at each table was a representative from one of the many Napa Valley non-profits, which would be recipients of the proceeds of the rest of the week's Auction Napa Valley events.
We were seranaded by Dave Duncan (Silver Oak Vineyards) and Jeff Gargiulo (Gargiulo Vineyards), with a song based on "Sweet Home Alabama," who with their wives chaired the Auction this year. All in attendance sang and danced along, happy to live and work in a valley they call home, where all care about one another.
On the Wednesday night before Auction Napa Valley officially started, Wine Spectator held its 26th-annual exclusive Bring Your Own Magnum (BYOM) Party, at St. Helena's Tra Vigne restaurant. Delicious food prepared by Tra Vigne's talented chefs, fabulous wines donated by attendees, dancing to great pulsating music and, moreover, incredible people watching were the order of the evening. The over-1000 attendees included California winemakers, vineyard owners, UC Davis wine educators, and generous participants of Auction Napa Valley, such as Margrit Mondavi, Peter Mondavi and Mike Grgich. Ed and I were delighted to meet Wine Spectator owner Maurice Shanken, who was holding court there.
Saturday night Ed and I hosted a dinner party at our home at Vineyard 511. Our esteemed guests included vintners from Ackerman Family Vineyards, Paratus, relatives of Fisher Winery and other good friends, who enjoyed getting to know each other and eating delicious appetizers, such as lobster rolls, and rack of lamb and strawberry shortcake. The scrumptious meal was catered by Market restaurant in St. Helena. Most importantly, we celebrated Ed's half birthday!
The first annual CabFest Napa Valley was held February 28- March 2, at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center, at Lincoln Theater, in Yountville, and was a great success. Two thousand people attended. To start it off with a bang was actor, singer, songwriter Jeff Bridges and his band, the Abiders. He performed a blend of country, rock and blues and songs from the film "Crazy Heart," as well as from his albums, shaped in partnership with his producer and friend T Bone Burnett. Opening the show for her father was the very talented singer/songwriter Jessie Bridges. They both sang together at the fun after-party, Cigars and Guitars, hosted by "Cigar Aficionado Magazine," Gibson Guitars and Napa Valley Museum.
The next two days featured Grand Tastings of Cabernet Sauvigon poured by a terrific group of Napa Valley wineries--50 each day--such as Cakebread Cellars, Cade, Silverado Vineyards, Trefethen, Hess Collection, Reynolds Family, Eagle Eye, Pride, Caymus Vineyards, and Vineyard 511. Everyone came by to tell us that our Vineyard 511 2009 was the best there! We agree!
Local restauranteur Cindy Pawlcyn provided delicious cheese, nuts, olive tapenade and fruit to pair perfectly with all the delicious Cab. Additionally, there were interesting seminars on the main stage, such as the keynote presentation by Karen MacNeil, "What Makes Great Cabernet Sauvignon Great," and musical pairings presented by the Orchestra Institute Napa Valley, since both wine and music have a mysterious quality that does not lend itself to easy description in words.
Saturday night The Silverado Pickups, a rock band comprised of some of Napa Valley's most respected vintners and wine professionals provided a rockin' concert. Members of the band include David Duncan of Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars, Jeff Gargiulo of Gargiulo Vineyards, Shane Soldinger with Crocker & Starr, professional percussionist Joe Shotwell, Dan Zepponi of Valley of the Moon, winemaker Tres Goettings of Robert Biale Vineyards, and wine-country "C.P.A.. to the stars," Paul Hoffman.
We are really looking forward to next year's event! In the meantime, enjoy our 2014 Napa Valley CabFest Photo Album.
Ed and I attended the V Foundation's 15th annual Wine Celebration August 1-3. The Foundation was founded by Jim Valvano and ESPN to raise money for cancer research. Valvano was the head coach of North Carolina State University's men's basketball team and led it to win the national championship in 1983; in his last days before dying of bone cancer in 1993, he asked that the Foundation be started to find a cure for cancer.
On the first night of the Wine Celebration, we attended a lovely dinner hosted by Ann and Chuck McMinn (left) at their wonderful winery Vineyard 29. I was lucky enough to sit next to Jim Valvano's brother Nick Valvano (right), President Emeritus of the V Foundation, who served as its CEO for 13 years (1999-2012), and who has been on its Board since its inception. Nick, also a former basketball player and coach, played guard.
We learned alot about Valvano's extraordinary spirit and remarkable impact that week , especially through the dinner and auction at the Nickel and Nickel Winery and through producer Dereck Wittenburg's and director Jonathan Hock's documentary, "Survive and Advance," which was screened at Yountville's Barrel Room by the Napa Valley Film Festival in conjuntion with the V Foundation.
The dinner/auction was hosted by Mike Krzyzewski ("Coach K"), head coach of Duke's men's basketball team. He, as well as Bob Lloyd, Chairman of the V Foundation and Valvano's longtime friend and teammate at Rutger's University, both emphasized the challenge we face in fighting cancer. Robin Roberts, Good Morning America co-host, who is battling cancer herself, addressed us through a video feed. The evening was topped off by a concert by Melissa Etheridge, rock singer and Grammy award winner.
Meadowood Napa Valley, the premiere hotel and country club, hosted its members at its annual tent raising party in honor of Auction Napa Valley. Because Meadowood closes access to its golf course and tennis courts and restaurants during Auction Napa Valley, which officially starts the next day, Meadowood provides a lovely evening of live music and hors d'oeuvres and wine on its expansive lawn.
At another event associated with Auction Napa Valley, Ed and I watched the sun set over Napa Valley's Diamond Mountain with incredible views from Viader's tasting room patio 1300 feet on the eastern slopes of Howell Mountain. Soon afterward, we were treated to an elegant and entertaining dinner event of great wines from proprietor Delia Viader's cellar (Viader is recognized around the world for consistently producing high quality, very limited production red wines and red Bordeaux-style blends) and delicious Argentine-sttyle food prepared by her daughter-in-law Mariela Viader. My favorite wine was 1997 Cabernet Franc and favorite dish the mouth-watering Argentian style beef.
Delia Viader was born in Argentina, and the theme of the evening was the intimate setting of a nightclub, such as one found in the Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires, where we were entranced by live sultry tango dance performances. Ole!
This past week, the Napa Valley Vintners' Association Auction Napa Valley raised a record $16.9 million for health care and youth education in Napa Valley. It broke its previous record of $10.5 million in 2005. In its 33rd year, the Auction provides for direct medical, dental and education services, lending support to families at risk, reaching the most vulnerable and extending a safety net to those in poverty.
The top live auction lot netted $3.7 million for Fund-a-need; the top barrel lot, each of which is 10 cases of wine, was Shafer Vineyards at $78,000; the top e-auction lot was for Sherwin Family Vineyards at $15,200.
The barrel auction was held in the afternoon at the lovely Raymond Vineyards, where an overwhelming number of local chefs and vintners provided yummy food and white, rose and sparkling wine outside in 5 large tents; while inside the cave, vintners poured their barrel samples. After schmoozing with Magrit Mondavi and owner Jean-claude Boisset, we ended up bidding on a case of Jean-Claude's 2010 Raymond cabernet--and won it!!!
Outside we ogled a 2006 Astin Martin convertible and chatted with Launny Steffens, proprietor of Vineyard 7 & 8, who was donating the (James Bond '007) thunderbolt on wheels to be auctioned off. How could he give it up??? Although Ed has the '06 sedan, I would have liked this one for myself. Oh well..............
Ed and I attended a lovely reception and dinner, which was part of the third annual Volley in the Valley Tennis Tournament, at the Napa Valley Reserve. The Reserve is a private wine estate, where members can make wine without the hassles associated with making wine. Members can participate as much or as little as they like. With their membership fee and agreement to purchase a certain amount of wine, they can have terrific wine for their own personal use; they just can't sell it.
The tournament itself was held at Meadowood, in St. Helena, to raise money for the Adventist Heart Institute, which directly benefits St. Helena Hospital. The champagne reception was held in the Reserve's outdoor Pavilion Patio and the dinner in the Pavilion Dining Room. My favorite part of the dinner prepared by Estate Chef Alejandro Ayala was the lovely, light, "sweet" starter Sweet Pea Agnolotti, with pea tendrils, green garlic and lemon.
The highlight of the evening was the featured speakers: Dr. Gan Dinnington, Cardiothorasic Surgeon, St Helena Hospital; Peter Magowan, President and Managing General Partner, San Francisco Giants, 1993-2008; and Jeff Greenwald, MFT, and author of The Best Tennis of Your Life and Fearless Tennis. What I hope I will remember most from Greenwald is that, after missing a point in tennis (as in life) let the windshield wiper totally wipe it away and go on to the next point.