A blend of wealthy bidders and ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ deals helped the Naples Winter Wine Festival 2020 in Florida set a new live auction record last weekend.
More than $20m was raised from 61 lots auctioned at the event, held at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, said organisers.
Top lot was a week-long, private Mediterranean cruise aboard a 201-foot super yacht for five couples, which fetched just over $1m.
All proceeds from the auction will go to the Naples Children and Education Foundation, a charity which supports at-risk and underprivileged children in Florida’s Collier County.
Some of the world’s best-known winemakers and vineyard owners flew in to attend one of the biggest events in the high society calendar in the US.
Saskia de Rothschild, who took the reins at Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) in 2018, was the honoured vintner at this year’s event, with Sarah Grueneberg, of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio in Chicago, the honoured chef.
Château Lafite Rothschild featured among the wine highlights from the live auction.
An opportunity for 20 guests to dine at the renowned Bleu Provence restaurant in Naples accompanied by the 2000 vintages of all five Bordeaux first growths – Lafite, Latour, Margaux, Mouton Rothschild and Haut-Brion – sold for $360,000, according to a results list published by Naples Daily News.
The lot was created to celebrate 20 years of the NCEF, organisers said.
Another top wine lot came from highly regarded Domaine Serene in Oregon and sold for $180,000.
It included a four-night stay at its Winery Hill House for two couples, plus dinners and tastings across Willamette Valley and the chance to take ownership of a barrel of Pinot Noir in the winery’s cellars; equivalent to offering each couple 24 75cl bottles.
Grace Evenstad, owner of Domaine Serene alongside her husband, Ken, is a lifetime trustee of the Naples event and the winery is a regular donor of experiences and wines.
Some auction lots combined fine wine with other passions. For example, a ‘Gargiulo Vineyards 20th anniversary’ package for two couples offered a ‘Naples to Napa’ experience, selling for $400,000.
This included a three-night musical trip to Nashville, as well as four nights in Napa to attend the Gargiulo Vineyards annual harvest party.
The couples also get a dinner for 24 people at Richard D’Amico’s restaurant in Naples and, separately, three magnums of Gargiulo’s 20th anniversary, special-edition Cabernet Sauvignon – after it’s release – and three further double magnums of Gargiulo Cab.
Beyond wine, headline lots included $520,000 for four couples to spend five nights in a new, luxury villa at Cuvée on Caribbean island St-Barths.
The package included a private cooking lesson at Eden Rock’s prestigious culinary school and an in-villa dinner prepared by Cuvée’s private chef.
There was also an online-only auction, which ran until 28 January.
Since its inception in 2001, the Naples Winter Wine Festival has raised more than $212m.
Celebrity guests this year included Kool & The Gang, television personality Judge Judy and PGA golfer Greg Norman.
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