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Luxury lots see Naples Winter Wine Festival 2022 break record  

A live auction of exclusive experiences, involving Michelin-starred meals, rare wines and access to famous estates, helped US charity event Naples Winter Wine Festival to raise more than $23m this year, organisers have said.

Wealthy bidders gathered under a big tent just outside Ritz-Carlton golf resort in Florida to compete for ‘one-of-a-kind’ lots in the live auction at Naples Winter Wine Festival 2022.

Organisers said a record amount of more than $23m was raised at the latest edition of the annual charity event, which was founded by the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF).

Rather than focus solely on wines, the live auction is known for offering exclusive experiences in partnership with some of the world’s best wineries.

Among the top lots at this year’s live auction was ‘a day at the races’, which sold for $750,000 – and was ‘doubled for $1.5m’, according to NCEF.

This offered three couples a six-night trip comprising a two-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London’s Knightsbridge, private shopping at Harrods, a meal at two-Michelin-star Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and access to Royal Ascot, with seats in the private box of Jackson Family Wines proprietor Barbara Banke – within the Royal Enclosure.

Guests will also get four, nine-litre ‘Salmanazar’ bottles of the group’s Lokoya wine from the 2018 vintage: one each of Diamond Mountain District, Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder and Spring Mountain.

Another lot, ‘in the footsteps of the Antinori family’, sold for $580,000, and ‘doubled for $1.16m’.

It encompassed a six-night Italy trip for two couples, including two nights at Tenuta Tignanello, dinner at Michelin-starred Osteria di Passignano, a visit via helicopter to Guado al Tasso in Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast and a helicopter ride to Umbria, plus a tour, tasting and dinner at Castello della Sala.

Guests will also get cases containing three double magnums of Tignanello, from the 2011, 2015 and 2017 vintages, plus three-magnum cases of Guado al Tasso – 2012, 2014 and 2018.

Other lots included a ‘farm to vineyard’ offering, sold twice at $500,000 and $550,000.

This involves a trip by private jet from Naples to Tennessee, dinner with Staglin Family Vineyard president Shannon Staglin and her husband, Artie Johnson, as well as a separate trip to Staglin in Napa with dinner at the family home, a blending session with winemaker Fredrik Johansson and a private cooking class with the estate chef – plus an etched three-litre bottle of Staglin Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 for each couple.

One lot that fetched $650,000 included a five-night round-trip to Napa Valley via private jet for three couples with Valerie Boyd & Jeff Gargiulo, of Gargiulo Vineyards.

Guests will get ‘platinum’ access to the BottleRock music festival, dinner at the renowned French Laundry restaurant,  a VIP dinner and concert at Gargiulo, custom Taylor guitar for each couple and several magnums of Gargiulo Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the 2018 vintage.

NCEF said this year’s very top lot was named ‘a million dollar meal: all for the kids’, which saw 40 couples spend $25,000 each to attend the scheduled ‘million dollar meal’ at Bleu Provence in Naples in November.

On the night before the live auction, held on 29 January, NCEF said that nearly 20 celebrity chefs, 20 world-renowned vintners and 17 Master Sommeliers helped to prepare ‘exquisite, intimate dinners’ for guests – including at the homes of festival trustees and at venues in Naples.

A separate online auction was due to close on 1 February.

NCEF said: ‘Using the funds raised from this year’s auction, NCEF will award grants to local organisations and fund strategic initiatives supporting Collier County children in need on 14 March 2022.’

Founded in 2001, Naples Winter Wine Festival has raised nearly $245m for at-risk and under-privileged children since its inception, NCEF added.

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