Be Kind and Drink Wine: Auction Napa Valley Raises Nearly $12 Million for Charity

Totals were down at the landmark event, but spirits were high thanks to Katy Perry and help for good causes

Be Kind and Drink Wine: Auction Napa Valley Raises Nearly $12 Million for Charity
Katy Perry warms up the crowd at the 39th Auction Napa Valley. (Alexander Rubin for Napa Valley Vintners)
Jun 4, 2019

The auction tent was full at Meadowood Resort in Napa Valley on June 1 as the crowd anticipated the arrival of pop star Katy Perry, the opening act for the 39th Auction Napa Valley. Perry didn’t disappoint as she revved up the 900 audience members for the bidding to come.

“I’m going to play a couple of songs and then start drinking with you. Save me a glass,” Perry said. “I say, let’s be kind and drink wine.” Perry performed five songs on the auction stage, including hits such as "Roar" and "Firework," and urged the audience to bid high to help support the charities the auction benefits, which focus on community health and children’s educational support programs.

“If I seem a little nervous it’s because I looked down to the table with Opus One,” Perry said from the stage, wearing a sleeveless pink satin gown with a blue sash. She had the audience laughing when she added, “I just didn’t want some Two Buck Chuck coming from the back of the room.”

When all the winning bids for the live, silent and barrel auctions were added up on Monday, the event raised almost $12 million for the Napa community, down from last year’s $13.6 million total and 2017’s $15.7 million. Not counting a Fund-a-Need lot, the live auction brought in more than $8 million of that. (Napa Valley Vintners did not provide detailed results for the live auction.) No lot topped $1 million, as two did last year. Veteran auctioneers Fritz Hatton and Ursula Hermacinski hammered down the event.


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The top live auction lot proved to be the first one, consigned by Tim Mondavi's Continuum Estate. It sold for $530,000 and was a travel-focused package that featured exclusive tours of Rome, Tuscany and Florence, as well as magnums of Continuum’s red blend in custom-designed bottles.

All told, 31 auction lots were sold. Most included travel or luxury components. The second-highest total, $480,000, was for lot 21, which included excursions by private jet to a duck-hunting lodge in Canada and a Hawaiian resort, as well as wine and a dinner at the Staglin Family Vineyard in Napa Valley. Close behind was the $475,000 bid for a lot from Opus One, which included 30 bottles of wine, tours of Paris and Bordeaux, and a custom-designed jewel-encrusted broach from Van Cleef & Arpels.

The day before the live auction, a barrel auction was held at the recently renovated Louis M. Martini winery in St. Helena, owned by the Gallo family. In a repeat performance from last year, the top barrel lot was from VGS Château Potelle; it raised a total of $82,500 from multiple bids.

“They said we have to appeal to the Millennials, and, boy, did we get a lot of young people,” said Mike Martini, a past auction chairman, who noted that the barrel auction was a coming-out party for the historic St. Helena winery, which boasts a Howard Backen–designed central atrium. Roger Nabedian, general manager of Gallo’s premium wine division, concurred. “I think we will be asked to do it again,” he said.

Following the conclusion of the live auction, the celebrity vibe continued with a dinner under the stars prepared by chefs from the Michael Mina group and Ayesha Curry, the wife of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry. Since its inception in 1981, Auction Napa Valley has raised more than $185 million for local charities.

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