In 1981, Robert Mondavi spearheaded the first Auction Napa Valley for community charities, raising $140,000. In 2009, the auction sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners Association (Napa Vintners) raised $5.6 million, bringing the total raised to date to approximately $90 million.
The proceeds of the auction serve the community in the areas of healthcare, child and youth development and affordable housing. One of the largest beneficiaries of the auction is Clinic Ole, the only source of primary and preventative care for the low-income and under/un-insured in the Napa Valley. Nearly half of the approximate 25,000 patients at Clinic Ole represent farmworkers and their families, and about 1/3 are children. The Childrens Health Initiative was formed in 2005 with a major grant from the Napa Vintners to ensure that every child has access to health insurance. Since 1981, over 55% of auction proceeds have funded healthcare programs such as these, with an additional 20% going towards the Health Care Fund for ongoing operations. Nearly 11% of proceeds have gone towards local child and youth development programs such as Boys & Girls Clubs, Child Start and Big Brothers/Sisters.
Auction Napa Valley takes place from Thursday June 3rd to Sunday June 6th beginning with welcome parties hosted by vintners throughout the valley. Friday is a packed day of activities at Rubicon Estate with the popular barrel-tasting and auction (see lots), e-auction finale and a marketplace full of food and wine tasting showcasing the best of Napa Valley. On Friday evening, private dinners will be hosted by vintners for those participating in Saturday’s festivities.
The featured event of Auction Napa Valley takes place on Saturday at Meadowood Resort, beginning at noon with a stroll-around luncheon on Meadowood’s beautifully landscaped grounds. At the “Boys are back in town” luncheon guests will enjoy the cuisine of eleven great male chefs from around the country including Thomas Keller and Michael Mina, Michael Tusk of Quince SF, Jean Coho of Everest Chicago, Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham and Walter Manzke of Church & State in LA.
Paddles rise with the live auction beginning at 2:00 pm and continuing through 5:30 pm. The 41 live auction lots represent extraordinary wines and events offered for a great cause. Examples of auction lots include VIP access to the Pebble Beach US Open for four including private jet transport, unlimited golf, limo and accomodations, offered by Alpha-Omega; Napa Valley and Bordeaux trip for four for up to five nights including all meals, accomodations and tours, offered by Wine Entre Femme; Connoisseur Collection for four to Napa Valley, NYC, Los Cabos and cruise of winner’s choice, offered by Staglin Family Vineyard.
The live auction is followed by the “Ladies’ Night” dinner and all-night party. The Ladies’ Night dinner is presented by six of the country’s premier female chefs: Gina dePalma of Babbo NYC, Suzanne Goin of Lucques LA, Carrie Nahabedian of Naha Chicago, Melissa Perello of Frances SF, Elizabeth Prueitt of Tartine SF and Suzanne Tracht of Jar LA. In keeping with the Ladies’ Night theme, Auction Napa Valley entertainment chair Jeff Smith – the rockin’ vintner of Hourglass Vineyards (and chef) – secured no other than all-girl rock band The Bangles. The weekend then ends with a late morning farewell fete. Check the website for the detailed schedule.
Auction Napa Valley has taken on a subtle change this year under co-chairs Mary Novak and Beth Novak Milliken of Spottswoode in collaboration with the Napa Valley vintners. The main live auction event has been moved back to a daytime format to make it less formal and more fun, according to Beth Milliken. The former headliner MC’s are being replaced with the best chefs and rockin’ entertainment, putting the focus back on what Napa Valley does best: food, wine and sharing.
Tickets for the four-day package of food, wine and events is $2,500 per person. The three-day package which excludes Friday dinner and the main Saturday event is $1,000 per person. Purchase online.
For those that cannot attend, the global e-auction of over 150 exclusive wine, food and travel lots begins today, opening bid is $250. It is comprised of four successive weeks of themed auctions with the final auction ending at 3:00 pm on June 4th at Rubicon. For the barrel auction and live auction, absentee bids can be submitted through the Napa Vintners website.