Updated: Auction Napa Valley 2019 raises nearly US$12 million for local charities

The 39th annual Auction Napa Valley raised millions of dollars for local health and education charities, from a combination of auctions - though bids were not quite as high as previous years.

Pop star Katy Perry opened the Saturday live auction the 39th annual Auction Napa Valley at the weekend with a five song-set that wowed the audience of 900 in the big white tent at Meadowood Resort in Saint Helena.

It was a fitting beginning for this year’s charity event organised by the Napa Valley Vintners trade association, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Hosting it were twenty-eight former NVV board chairs.

‘Be kind and drink wine,’ Perry told the roomful of clapping attendees before she left the stage, and they did, bidding noisily for the next three hours.

According to the Napa Valley Vintners, the fundraising total of the e-auction, Friday barrel auction and Saturday’s live auction reached nearly US$12 million.

Surprisingly, the 2019 take is lower than last year’s $13.6 million and 2017’s $15.7 million, and only one lot went for more than $1 million compared with two last year.

After all the bids were tallied, the top lot turned out to be the Napa Valley Vintners “Fund the Future,” which drew more than US$1 million in direct donations ranging from $1,000 to $250,000. Among the top four lots was #15, NVV’s 75th anniversary party, for which more than 102 bidders secured spots.

In the number three and four spots were Lot #21, a trip to a hunting lodge in the wilds of Ontario and golf and sport fishing in Hawaii offered by Labry Estate, Staglin Family Vineyard, and John and Sandi Thompson, which brought $620,000, and #1, Continuum Estate’s extravagant nine-day excursion to Italy, which brought US$530,000 after rapid-fire bidding. Continuum Estate had put together an extravagant nine-day excursion to Italy with private tours of the Sistine Chapel, rides in a vintage papal limousine and tastings at Tuscan wineries like Ornellaia. Big spenders Lynn and James Grehl nabbed it; last year they spent US$1 million for a behind-the-scenes experience at the US Open Golf Tournament at Pebble Beach.

A few other lots of the 31 on offer brought nearly as much. Opus One’s Lot #3, for US$475,000, included dinner with the Rothschild family at Mouton Rothschild and insider experiences at jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels, plus a vertical of magnums of Opus One.

According to the NVV, the top lot from the e-Auction, which ended on Monday at noon Pacific time, was Hall winery’s collection of five vintages of its exceptional red, Exzellenz, in 9-liter bottles (they declined to reveal the price), and among the Barrel Auction’s 114 offerings, VGS Chateau Potelle took the top spot for the second year in a row. Their 2017 Jean-Noel Fourmeaux (the name of the owner) pulled in $85,250.

‘That was fantastic and humbling,’ Fourmeaux said. The wine is made from the only grapes they were able to harvest on Mount Veeder in 2017 because of the wildfires.

Since the debut of Auction Napa Valley in 1981, it has raised more than US$185 million for the community.

Updated 4th June 2019 to include final total from the auctions, and the top lots.