Reports 16 May 2019

Napa auctions set to rock the valley

The charity wine event Auction Napa Valley culminates in a three-day celebration with an auction of lots donated by Napa’s glitziest wineries

Words by Guy Woodward

Photography by Alexander Rubin for Napa Valley Vintners

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With its three-Michelin star restaurant and elegantly appointed cabins in the Napa foothills, Meadowood Napa Valley is a pretty paradisaical place at the worst of times. But over the last weekend of May each year, the upscale resort’s luxury quota takes on a distinctly stratospheric (and Bacchanalian) feel. And this year, they’re aiming even higher.

The venue, co-owned by wine, property and sports franchise moguls Bill Harlan and Stan Kroenke, is the setting for the final event of the annual Auction Napa Valley, a three-day long celebration of the US’s starriest AVA for the country’s stretch-limo-travelling, well-heeled crowd. After a round of winery dinners and tastings, and a clubby walk-around barrel auction and tasting of specially made Napa bottlings, the whole affair climaxes with a lively auction of various ‘only-in-your-dreams’ lots donated by Napa’s glitziest wineries – along with an increasingly convivial afternoon and evening of musical and culinary entertainment. And this year, that comes in the form of singer and Grammy regular Katy Perry alongside celebrity chef and winery owner Ayesha Curry.

The Charter Oak Auction after party at 2018 Auction Napa Valley

The headliners are in keeping with the event’s ambition. This is not an occasion for understatement – least of all when it comes to the paddle-raising. Last year’s auction saw a bidding war for a lot donated by Opus One, spanning dinner at the winery, plus a first-class trip to Paris for four to attend the masked Versailles Ball, three nights at the Versailles Hotel, three nights at Hotel Le Crillon, dinner for four at Alain Pasard’s L’Arpège and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenée, with assorted wines (all in Imperial format) thrown in. The donors eventually replicated the lot to accommodate both bidders, raising $1.4m in the process.

This year, Opus One is upping the ante, joining forces with jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels to present a lot that includes a private dinner with the Rothschilds at Château Mouton-Rothschild over the course of a week-long, first-class-and-private-jet tour of France, including accommodation at the Ritz Paris. Meanwhile Lot no1, from the Mondavi-owned Continuum, spans a nine-day tour of Italy with private visits to the Sistine Chapel and ‘Supertuscan’ winery Ornellaia, and transport by private helicopter and Bulgari’s vintage papal limousine.

Perry will perform a set of her hits – doubtless whipping bidders into a frenzy of excitement – directly before the bidding, while Curry will cook up a ‘global barbecue’ on the pristinely manicured Meadowood lawns for a by-then well lubricated crowd of wine lovers, winemakers and bon viveurs. There’s no word yet on whether or not her husband, NBA star Stephen Curry, or Perry’s fiancé, Hollywood heartthrob Orlando Bloom, will be in attendance – but don’t be surprised if they rock up with a few other celebrity chums – it’s that sort of night.

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