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Screaming Eagle $220,000
Three bottles of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon From 1995-1997

Napa Valley Vintners Lot 75

109 bottles of premium wine and a Limited Edition Cadillac XLR Roadster Convertible

Harlan Estate $180,000
Ten bottles of Napa Valley red wine from the past 10 releases, 1991-2000.

Dalla Valle Vineyards $150,000
Seven bottles of Napa Valley including dinner for eight Vineyard 29 $135,000

Three bottles of 2001 Napa Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and red wine

Joseph Phelps Vineyards

30 bottle vertical and 45 liters of Napa Valley Insignia from 1974 to 2003, dinner for 6

Napa Valley Vintners $95,000
365 bottles of Napa Valley wines, stays at Ritz Carlton resorts and 2005 Wine Auction package

Colgin Cellars $90,000
One 6-L bottle of 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

52 bottles of wine, accommodations, dinner for six and a matching bid contribution to the Statue of Liberty

Araujo Estate Wines $75,000
One bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and a-daylong Winery visit and blending session for eight

Shafer Vineyards $75,000
23 bottles of wine, lunch for 26 people

  Napa Valley Wine Auction
                            THEY CAME, THEY SIPPED, THEY ATE, THEY BID

Photography & Writing by JIM WHITE

The collective sound of thousands of wine bottles opening sung throughout the valley as guests at this year’s Napa Valley Wine Auction bid $5.3 million for 139 exotic wine lots, 950 cases of still-aging wines, viticulture–themed artwork and the chance to wine and dine with renowned winemakers and other area celebrities.

Hosted, as always, by the Napa Valley Vintners and held June 3-6, this year’s Wine Auction was chaired by Jamie Davies and sons Bill, Hugh and John. Makers of Shramsberg sparkling wines, the Davies family focused on the bubbly tradition to create the auction’s theme—Isn’t it Romantic:A Sparkling Toast to the Napa Valley!

The annual event (this year is the 24th) is the world’s largest and most successful charity wine auction. More than $53 million has been raised since the auction’s debut in 1981. Funds support local health clinics, valley day-care centers, hospices, hospitals, and community housing.

This year around 1800 people, spending $2,500 per couple, attended the exclusive, four-day wine and food extravaganza showcasing the spirit of place that is the Napa Valley.

Highlight of the auction itself? Bidding wars on two different lots: Paddles were flying for a Cadillac XLR convertible roadster equipped with a specially designed trunk to hold wine and a collection of 109 celebrated Napa Valley Cabernets (have wine, will travel).

The other flash-those-paddles lot was for a collection of the coveted Napa Valley cult wine, Screaming Eagle.

Incidentally, each of these stellar lots went for $220,000. In the case of Screaming Eagle, the sum bought three rare, 3-liter bottles, which worked out to a staggering $18,333.33 per 750 ml bottle (have wine, will cellar).

But there is more to The Auction, than the auction itself. Way more. Napa Valley becomes a constellation of events, both intimate and crowdpleasing, showing off the hearts, homes, and hospitality of area vintners, chefs, artisan food producers, and, of course, stylistas.

Starting out the seemingly endless parade of parties is the Thursday marketplace, this year held at Domaine Chandon in Yountville. A sea of linen and wide-brimmed hats lent to the oh-so-causal mood as guests leisurely strolled their way to imbibing barrel samples from over 95 wineries. Later that evening, music from the 1930s and 40s rose up as a chorus from a multitude of cabaret-style parties held under the stars (and in many cases, attended by them).

After attending one of thirty eight winery luncheons on Friday—perhaps the highlight of which was John and Janet Trefethen’s Prohibition-era costume party—guests, hopefully, caught some time in the sun or in slumber before arriving that evening at Meadowood Resort for the weekend’s big bash, the Bubble Ball. A sumptuous three-course meal by Ron Siegal, chef of San Francsico’s Masa Restaurant, floated on the never-ending spring of ambrosia, a.k.a. wines of the Napa Valley. Dancing to Gershwin and Porter music by Michael Feinstein lasted late into the night.

And all of this is just the prelude to the Wine Auction itself, held on Saturday amidst the sweeping landscape of white tents and verdant, croquet-perfect lawns at Meadowood.The first gavel came down at 1:00 p.m. and the crowd was soon bidding at a frenzied pace.

So, how do you top an affair such as this? There’s always next year, when the Napa Valley Wine Auction will be celebrating its 25th anniversary, June 2-5, 2005.

- Wine Auction Dinner
- Emeril In Mendocino
- Fletcher Benton
- Film Festival

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