Happy Napa Valley Auction Week—Bring Millions
“Auction Week” in Napa Valley has begun. The way you can tell are all the little signs floating around the Valley that wish you a “Happy” auction week.
For the uninitiated, Auction Napa Valley is the signature annual event of the Napa Valley Vintners, the organization of Napa Valley wineries that promote the idea of Napa Valley and its wines as well as take steps to defend the commercial interests of the “Napa Valley” brand as it pertains to wine. The three-day event features lavish dinners, an auction of barrels of wine and the main event: The Saturday auction of winery-sponsored lots under the tent at Meadowood Resort.
For those in the Valley but not attending the auction, there is another hint that Auction Week is underway besides the signs around the Valley. One need only stand outside, look up into the sky and watch the numerous private jets coasting to a landing at the Napa Valley municipal airport.
Auction Napa Valley attracts the 1%. And it is this 1% along with the generosity of the Napa Valley Vintners that results in proceeds that bring in millions of dollars for local health-related institutions and education. Over the history of the Auction, more than $111 million dollars has been raised. But it’s not as though the annual proceeds have always exceeded the previous year. In fact, by looking at the chart here you can see that the proceeds of the auction have gone up and down. This year, the organizers are hoping to significantly exceed last year’s $8 million take and go beyond the record-setting take of $10.5 million in 2005.
If this goal is achieved, it will be as a result of the bidders’ desire to travel. Of the 46 Live Auction Lots to be sold on Saturday at Meadowood, 30 include travel to some part of the globe, including multi-day excursions to:
• The Arctic Circle
• Buenos Aires
• Florence, Italy
• Paris France
• New York
• Park City, Utah
• South Africa
• Kentucky (Derby)
• Lake Como, Italy
• Cannes, France
• South Korea
• Sun Valley, Idaho
• Cabo San Lucas
• Telluride, Colorado
You can read through the various live auction lots here. Some of them are spectacular in a “Holy-Cow-Are-You-Kidding-Really-An-Aston-Martin?” kind of way.
There has always been a bit of friendly competition among the Napa Valley vintners to create the most spectacular auction lot and for bragging rights over whose lot garnered the highest winning bid. In the past various lots have gone to bidders willing to spend upwards of $100,000 to $600,000 or more for the various lots offered under the tent.
For many of us members of the Napa Valley Vintners the annual Auction Napa Valley has nothing to do with ‘bragging rights’ or attracting the 1%, or defending the Napa name – It is because it is a way to pay back and pay forward to the community that we live in. The original focus on health care institutions was decided upon because Napa County was one of the few California counties that did not have a public health network or ‘General Hospital’. Since its inception Auction Napa Valley has carefully widened the recipients through careful public input and definitive needs assessments to take care of the people most in need in our community.
Considering the thousands of requests that a winery receives to ‘donate’ a bottle or two to otherwise worthy causes, by participating in Auction Napa Valley we keep the money locally and get acknowledged globally!
This is partially jealousy because despite a career in the wine industry I have never scored tickets to the auction. It seems the over the top auction lots just feed in to the elitist image that the wine industry as a whole has with most consumers. That being said, I think where the money goes is great and if this is the sort of lots it takes, then that’s OK.