The tents are down, the confetti has been picked up, and yet the memory still lingers. Auction Napa Valley was a phenomenal event that took place over four days, yet its impact will be felt throughout the year. This event is one that funds many, many charities throughout Napa Valley. The Napa Valley Vintners contribute proceeds from Auction Napa Valley to community health and children’s education throughout Napa Valley. This is an event that not only makes a difference for days, weeks, and throughout the year, but which can also make a difference for a lifetime for many.
The Auction is an event I look forward to every year. It can include, based on the ticket purchased, a welcome dinner, barrel auction, winery dinner, live auction and farewell brunch. Need I say, it’s all accompanied with great Napa Valley wine. This year, we attended dinner at St. Supery and enjoyed the ambiance and the wine. Having conversations with the owner and head of hospitality provided some insights for me into the “interactive wine experiences” offered at St. Supery, making it a must to return with friends. Learning and education are at the heart of their offerings – oh, yes, and fun drinking wine!
The main Auction event that I get myself ready for is the barrel auction. This year, the barrel auction was hosted by HALL St. Helena, which is a beautiful property. There were 120 barrels of wine that you could taste from. Each vintner donates 10 cases (12 bottles per case) from each barrel to the highest bidders. For me, it is a bit exciting just to compete with others for a case of wine from a barrel that holds exceptional future value for me.
Truly, one cannot taste through 120 barrels and maintain any ability to discern the quality of the wine – let alone be standing up! Here is where the pre-work comes in to the pursuit. The barrel auction is attended by thousands, and you do not want to be outbid and drop off the board. My approach is to establish a taste list. These are wines that I would like to have in my cellar and cannot purchase other ways. I also look for unique blends that will not be available commercially. Many of the vintners present lots that are exclusive for the auction. This year the Napa Valley Auction went electronic, which made it easier to stay on top of the bid boards. I could always be in touch with where I was on the board and know if I was in danger of falling off. Oh yes, and I always carry my spit cup. This is the only way I can maintain some clarity on the wine I am tasting.
This year, I walked away with two great wines. The first was Outpost, which is one of my favorite wineries. They presented their 2013 Immigrant Blend, which is cabernet franc and cabernet crafted by Thomas Rivers Brown, their winemaker. This is a deep, rich, complex wine with layers upon layers of flavors. The second lot was a case from Turnbull. This is a winery that has come a long way with their cabernet over the last several years, crafting textured, big wines with excellent fruit. Their winemaker, Peter Heitz, has had a big impact; and many wines garner big scores from the critics. I purchased a case of 2013 Cabernet from the Fortuna Vineyard.
There is much more to this event and look for more from future blogs. I was even lucky enough to be the high bidder on a lunch tasting with Kale Anderson. He is the winemaker for Pahlmeyer and has started his own label called Kale. He is noted as one of the up and coming winemakers in the Valley. I can hardly wait to have lunch and learn from him.
Awesome event – think about putting it on your calendar for 2016, it will be the first weekend in June.