For collectors of wine, the best place to be in early June is always under the massive white tent on the lawn at Meadowood Napa Valley that’s home to Auction Napa Valley’s live bidding. In fact, the entire weekend, from Thursday night to Sunday, is always a playground for those with cellar space to spare and the means to fill it (and for those who enjoy watching that spectacle). Frontrunner among the country’s charity wine events, the Napa auction is offering up its 39th iteration this year, from May 30 to June 2. And tickets are now available.
Through the years, Auction Napa Valley has raised the bar higher and higher on itself, until guests’ potential dance card for the weekend is rich indeed: private dinners in the homes of legends, a barrel tasting and auction of one-of-a-kind wines (with the principals on hand to discuss them), and live auction lots that take winning bidders around the globe and fill their cellars with enviable bottles. And the funds that the festivities have raised to date reflect a remarkable level of commitment to the cause, on the part of both the region’s vintners and the event’s bidders (which are sometimes one and the same): The Napa Valley Vintners have contributes more than $185 million toward community health and children’s education in Napa County.
The compelling details about this year’s auction lots are under wraps for a few more days. But a sneak peek uncovers some incredible options. Opus One will take you to Paris and Bordeaux for some fabulous dining, a private dinner with the Rothschild family at Château Mouton Rothschild, and to put even more sparkle in the trip, jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels. Not to be outdone, Colgin Cellars will lodge you at the opening of the new Cheval Blanc Palace Hotel in Paris, treat you to lunch at the Louis Vuitton Family House and take you by private helicopter to the family home of Christian Dior in Normandy. Jones Family Vineyards is looking for true adventurers to take on a trip to Southern Africa—Cape Winelands, the Namibian Desert, the beaches of Mozambique, the wildlife of South Africa. And Ovid Napa Valley offers a pick-up baseball game with San Francisco Giants alumni greats, along with—full disclosure here—a chance to be on the inside of Robb Report’s next Car of the Year event.
All of these lots are loaded with exquisite bottles and peripheral experiences likely to kindle bidding wars under the big top on Saturday. And bracketing the battle is a notable duo of young women. Katy Perry will set the tone beforehand, with a set of her most popular songs. And for the annual, much-anticipated post-auction dinner on the lovely lawn at Meadowood, food media celebrity, cookbook author, restaurateur, and now vintner Ayesha Curry (did we mention that her husband plays for the Warriors?) will headline a Barbecue Battle Royale, with other chefs from the Michael Mina group.
Every year at Auction Napa Valley, unique celebrations are embedded in the broader weekend. This year, the Napa Valley Vintners themselves are celebrating 75 years as the region’s champion organization. Friday’s barrel auction will mark a milestone for a Napa icon—a complete makeover for the historic Louis M. Martini winery by architect Howard Backen: The E&J Gallo–owned new showplace will host that tasting and auction. Also on the icon front, Beaulieu Vineyard will be releasing the 80th vintage of its flagship Georges de Latour Private Reserve (the 2016) at the end of the summer, and in honor of the wine famously launched and made by the legendary André Tschelistcheff, BV is offering a lot that includes, as part of a deep-dive weekend with the winery, a vertical tasting going all the way back to the 1950s.
Weekend packages are available. The VIP Experience ($20,000 per couple) includes private car service to all events, three nights’ lodging at Meadowood Napa Valley, and priority assignments for the vintner-hosted dinners (fancy an exclusive evening at Harlan Estate?). The Complete Experience ($4,000 per person) includes all weekend activities, from the Thursday night welcome party through the barrel auction, vintner dinners, live auction and farewell Sunday brunch.