I've been browsing through the Auction Napa Valley catalog (viewable at napavintners.com/anv) the past few days, reflecting on how this annual charity fundraiser has changed and evolved over the years.
Early on, it was a pure wine auction, more or less. Sure, prices for many of the most prized auctioned lots were off the charts in terms of relative market value. And there’s always been a lot of hoopla, glamour and pizzazz tied to the event, including Friday’s Taste Napa Valley, which features a walk-around food-and-wine event with all of the valley’s top chefs, right down to the French Laundry’s Thomas Keller, live and in person.
As I turned the pages, I found myself humming the Barenaked Ladies’ ditty, “If I Had a Million Dollars,” when I came across some of the juicier lots. The one that caught my eye awards Saturday's top bidder a “unique his-and-hers diamond prize package” from designer Daniel K, valued at $40,000.
Some years ago, in the 1980s, Dick Grace, the owner of Grace Family Vineyard, observed that the auction lots had escalated in value, with elaborate bottle special-sizes and packaging, exclusive jet-setter trips, dinners and other extravaganzas. One day, Grace told me, someone’s going to “put the Hope Diamond in one of their bottles”—his way of saying there didn’t appear to be any limits on what might be auctioned.
The good news is that all the monies raised benefit Napa Valley charities, chief among them health services. So keep that in mind when you gaze at the final weekend figures.
Chris Lavin — Long Beach, CA — June 6, 2007 8:06pm ET
Mike Officer — June 7, 2007 11:16am ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — June 7, 2007 1:42pm ET
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