Money, Power, Reputation and the Napa Valley Wine Auction

The most startling thing about the Napa Valley Auction, which happens this coming weekend, is the remarkable concentration of wealth it attracts. But this is what is required in order for the event to raise the remarkable sums for local charities. Still, it’s startling.

One of the best ways to witness this conspicuous monetary power is to position yourself somewhere near southern Napa on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week and observe the air traffic overhead. You’ll see a fleet of private jets landing at the Napa airport. For aviation buffs, it’s pretty cool.

Of course, the Napa Valley Auction also serves to re-cement the perception of the Valley’s wines as among the top bottlings in the world. The Napa Valley Vintners take this goal fairly seriously, as they should. In today’s world, it is still believed that value, importance, and significance is determined by the amount of money dedicated to or possessed as well as by the number, quality, and significance of the celebrities that lend their names and time to something. Money and celebrity are at the heart of cementing the Napa Valley reputation.

It has been some years since I attended the Auction. I don’t have the disposable income to contribute to the take, I don’t own a winery, nor do I rate quite enough as a communicator to be invited. But I still get to see the planes. And that’s fun.


4 Responses

  1. Steve Lay - May 30, 2017

    In my, at times, stellar career and other times being a scourge in the executive suite, I think I can weigh in on my preferences-give me a man/woman who is: humble, respectful, understated, and has the ability to encourage all people to achieve (whatever their definition of achievement). These people are a lot more fun to be around. And yes, some such peoples are extremely wealthy. A wealthy boss once told me–Don’t honor wealth unless it was obtained by hard work, honesty, civility toward all man and a healthy belief there is a God that– “there by the grace go I”. I hope their deep pockets contribute mightily.

  2. Darlyne Miller - May 31, 2017

    It is unfortunate that you only incidentally mention that the “remarkable concentration of wealth” has also helped contribute over $170 million dollars to our community. Children and family services, education, and health care have all benefitted from the proceeds of the auction. In addition to the money and celebrity, as you chose to focus upon, our community is very involved with helping to support each other. Hundreds of volunteers participate in the auction each year, also contributing to the success of our community. I don’t own a winery, nor do I have the disposable income to “contribute to the take”. But for 17 years, I have been proud to donate my time and energy to helping our community create something that is unique and beneficial for all of us. It would be great to focus on the positive and we rise together when those jets start coming in.

  3. Tom Wark - May 31, 2017


    Thank you for your comment.

    I like planes. And I don’t think I was being negative at all. I was merely noting the obvious.


  4. Steve - May 31, 2017

    Tom, for what it is worth, I did not take your comments as negative at all. Wealth is neither good nor bad. The good or bad effects of wealth are in the eye of the beholder-even relative to donations to charities. Jimmy Carter even found out that taxing yachts and private jets turned out to be counter-productive. Many of our countrymen make a living building those private jets coming to see and be seen in Wine Country.

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