Auction Napa Valley, Stuff of Legends 4 min read

Auction Napa Valley (ANV) needs no introduction, its reputation precedes it. I first attended this marvelous event fifteen years ago. Since then I became an honorary Napa Valley citizen, of sorts. I spend so much time in Napa, everyone assumes that I am a local resident. The truth is, I live and do my laundry four dozen miles from the area. However, Napa Valley is where a big part of my heart and spirit have taken up residence. Presumably, after all these years I would feel less attachment; that my senses would dull, events blend and excitement wane. Somehow this hasn’t happened.


Auction Napa Valley always falls on the first weekend in June. Despite occurring in a destination that is chock full of weekly happenings, it is the most exciting event in the Valley.  I looked forward to 2015 ANV as much as my very first. As always, excitement was in the air, and everything felt different, more alive, edgier.


As before, ANV’s goal is to raise money for local charities. However, stylistically, this year’s event was slightly different, as it featured a greater emphasis on lifestyle lots, introduced new vintners, plus new venue and logistics for its barrel auction. The three combined auctions raised $15.8 million, a staggering sum, with several single lot totals records set.


Multiple vintner-hosted parties lasted long into the evening, with some of the valley’s most celebrated wines poured freely and graciously. The barrel auction buzzed with energy, with those who could not be there in person, busily bidding on-line.


All in all, another legendary affair became a part of Napa’s history. After the event, as I drove my fifty miles home from the Valley, my thoughts were focused on why this is such an extraordinarily event; why it brings so much goodwill out of everyone.


Here are my Top Ten reasons:


Legendary Setting


There is only one Napa Valley. It is a magical setting; idyllic to a fault. To be there is to fall in love; and fall hard, with its surroundings. Everyone I know who has visited the region is smitten.




Legendary Vintner’s Commitment


Napa vignerons love their Valley with abandon.  They consistently show gracious hospitality toward their guests. Pre and post auction parties are truly remarkable.


Legendary Wines


There is only one place one could find a Balthazar (12L) of Screaming Eagle—Auction Napa Valley. It’s common knowledge that Napa Valley makes world-class wines. What may not be obvious is that the only way to acquire some large format bottlings, rare vintages, or minuscule production wines, is at the source. Most spectacular, crème de la crème offerings often never leave Napa.


Legendary Lifestyle Lots


This year’s luxurious extravaganza was jaw-dropping, even for the ultimate jet-setter crowd.


Chair's Lot

The Chair’s Lot sold to three bidders for a whopping $2.4 million. It included 35 bottles of Napa Valley Wine, a first-class plane trip to France for two, a private dinner in the Opus One Salon, and much more.


Legendary Performances


Not many get to see singer and songwriter John Legend perform at an auction. Legend came to support a Raymond Vineyards lot that featured a live private performance, intimate dinner and double magnums of his own newly crafted wine in collaboration with Raymond Vineyards.



Legendary Winemakers


The number and concentration of Napa’s winemaking elite was staggering. This was truly a who’s who of Napa Valley. Seen: Elias Fernandez (Shafer), Russell Bevan (Bevan Cellars), Sally Johnson (Pride Mountain), Aaron Pott (Pott Wines), and Philippe Melka (Atelier Melka), just to name a handful.


I recently interviewed Elias Fernandez here, and Russell Bevan here.



Elias Fernandez


Philippe Melka

Legendary Chefs


Every year, ANV draws chefs from the most illustrious Napa restaurants, as well as celebrity chefs from across the globe. Last year it was Christopher Kostow, who prepared the post-auction feast under the stars, this year it was Pierre Gagnaire, who flew in from France.

Legendary Loyalty


Many guests have attended this event since its creation three decades ago. Some skipped a year or two, only to come back with gusto. There is unprecedented loyalty among ANV goers.


Legendary Tradition of Charitable Giving


To date, ANV raised $145 million dollars, the largest amount by any charitable auction.


Legendary Impact on Napa Valley Community


Due to its consistent, unwavering commitment to neighbors helping neighbors, the local community is thriving. Rather than looking for outside help, Napa Valley takes matters into its own hands, and assists members of their own community in the most meaningful, impactful way.


Whether you visit Napa Valley in person, or partake in its grandiosity by enjoying its wines in your home, consider this: Auction Napa Valley sets new records every year for a whole host of prominent reasons. Combined, those reasons lead to a simple conclusion: Napa does it better. They simply outperform all others on every level.


And that is truly legendary.

Ilona Thompson

Ilona Thompson is Editor-in-Chief at PalateXposure, a destination site for oenophiles, gourmands and luxury travelers. She also recently launched #Wine, a site dedicated to wines and spirits reviews, and #Photography, a site devoted to high-quality wine, food, and travel related photography.

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