Each year, Napa Valley ushers in spring with a grand public celebration of its best wines that is equal parts wine connoisseurs’ private party and heartfelt humanitarian effort. Auction Napa Valley 2018, the 38th year of the fête, is just around the corner on May 31 to June 3, and advance reports hold promise that an already high bar will be raised even further on both fronts.
The first of the large events is the barrel auction on Friday, with many of the valley’s wineries and restaurants hosting an indulgent walk-around tasting on the grounds at Charles Krug Winery while bids are placed on the barrels. Turning the day into a truly local experience this year, the food and wine “marketplace” will be fashioned into a replica of Napa Valley itself, including its iconic towns. Chefs will be serving signature dishes paired with wines nested in their respective appellations.
Saturday’s live auction, always at Meadowood Napa Valley, brings out the best offerings—rare bottles of often allocated wines matched in lots with spectacular experiences around the world and the vintners who’ve donated those lots (and often put skin in the game by leading the trips they’re offering), bidding up each other’s lots along with guests. Lots in that vein this year, for instance, include this from Joseph Phelps: dinner for 12 with the family, 45 bottles of their wine, and a 14-day voyage of your choice for four aboard The World, billed as “the largest privately owned residential megayacht on earth.” The cruise might be on the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, or the Indian Ocean. There’s also this offering from Opus One: four bottles (not to worry, there’s more) and round-trip for four to Paris to attend the masked ball in the Orangerie of Versailles, with add-ons like dinner at Alain Ducasse and more. You can preview the rest of the field to see all the details.
Dinner after the live auction will strike a sentimental note, tapping into family roots in the valley. This year’s honorary chairs are the fourth-generation Mondavi sisters: Angelina, Alycia, Riana, and Giovanna on Peter Mondavi Sr.’s side. And beloved San Francisco chef Nancy Oakes of Boulevard restaurant will re-create some of her great-grandmother Nonna Mondavi’s recipes.
In the excitement of the contest, the scope of this community effort can get lost. Almost 90 percent of Napa Valley Vintners’ members are participating in some way, donating barrels and lots, hosting private parties, and pouring their wines. Some 400 volunteers from around the valley will donate their time to execute the event. And to date, Auction Napa Valley has donated more than $180 million to local health and education programs.
Not able to attend? You can bid online now, on both exclusive e-auction lots and on barrel-auction lots. Electronic bidding kicks off on May 27 at noon. You just need to register.