ST. HELENA Giving the 2013 bidders catalog a once-over, its easy to see why Margrit Mondavi called Napa Valley Vintners annual charity event on Saturday the bling-bling auction.

It offered bidders ample opportunity to lay out substantial cash for worldwide trips, fancy cars, priceless jewelry, lavish parties and dinners, Paris fashion shows, celebrity hookups and, of course, rare wine.

But the event also proved the haves do care about the have-nots as paddle-holders also generously donated a record $3.7 million for Napa County programs dealing with health and youth needs. For them, the only takeaway was a good feeling.

The final lot of the day Marvels to Miracles by the auction-chairing Staglin family not only raised money for important countywide health and social programs, it also helped push this years Auction Napa Valley to an all time record of $16.9 million.

It was an emotional close to an auction that had plenty of sizzle inside and outside a giant white tent on Meadowood resorts fairway.

Brandon Staglin followed his father, Garen, to the microphone to lay out a new county schools effort to detect the early signs of mental illness in young people. He also shared with auctiongoers his own battle with schizophrenia.

He was followed by Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein, who discussed the need to address the mental and emotional health of school children.

A hush came over the room as Lieberstein spoke about the painful loss of his son just two months ago. He died by his own hand (battling mental health problems). He tragically lost that war and we lost our angel.

The earlier we can detect mental illness the better … before they reach adulthood.

I ask you to raise your paddles once more to help our children live their lives fully and completely, he added. With that, Lieberstein raised his paddle to donate the first thousand dollars to the auctions Fund-A-Need lot.

Liebersteins comments were followed by a moving ballad written and sung by country/western singer/songwriter Billy Dean, in which he urged all in Napa Valley to join together and Walk With Me.

Auctioneer Fritz Hatton was inspired by the candid remarks and song to reach for the stars in his opening call for bids of $250,000. He received four or five when Athertons Candice Hamilton shouted out her willingness to double that amount. Then, within a couple of minutes, Hamilton added another $100,000, bringing her total commitment to $600,000. The contributions continued at graduated steps from $150,000 down to $1,000, totaling $3,724,000 for Fund-A-Need when all was said and done.

Co-chairman Garen Staglin said he was amazed, excited and joyful at what transpired over a period of four hours. Words that come to mind are happiness, benevolence and gratitude. Its such an honor to represent a community that has come together in this way.

Im thrilled for the beneficiaries, added his wife, Shari. My heart is filled with thanks for the bidders and all who helped make this happen.

The bidders were more generous than ever, added Margrit Mondavi after the final gavel came down. It shows the economy is on the rebound and people are willing to share (their wealth). This has turned out to be good for everyone.

Auction Napa Valley 2013 was a show-stopper that rare moment in time when months of hard work by many people, strong relationships, a recovering economy and the bounty of this special place converge to create a memorable event, declared Linda Reiff, Napa Valley Vintners executive director. We may not see another year like this for a long time, and we are grateful for the magical combination that made this years auction one for the record books.

The $16.9 million take this year surpasses by far the previous record of $10.5 million at the events 25th anniversary in 2005. On top of that, the $14.3 million brought in during Saturday afternoons live auction more than doubled last years $6.1 million.

Not only that, Auction Napa Valley is once again top dog of wine auctions, eclipsing Floridas Naples Winter Wine Festival, which had raised $12 million a few years ago.

Snazzy lots, generous bids

All but five of the 45 vintner-generated auction lots sold for more than $100,000. The live auction was barely an hour old when auctioneer Fritz Hatton told the crowd proceeds had already surpassed the $5.5 million mark.

Right out of the chute, Mary Miner, owner of Oakville Ranch Vineyards, offered $130,000 for the opening lot, an opportunity to enjoy the 34th Americas Cup, taking place in San Francisco, from the inside out. The lot included front row seats for four, behind-the-scenes access, dining, concert tickets and 45 magnums of wine.

While it wasnt the first time, there was a lot that brought in more than $1 million. Spirited bidding for a lot offered by Dana Estates that includes a weeklong trip for two couples to South Korea with first-class airfare, guided tours, meals and hard-to-come-by wines ended when owners Hi Sang Lee and Jae Chun offered to double the lot. The top two paddle-holders George Hamel, of San Francisco, and another who opted to remain anonymous agreed to halt the bidding war, both agreeing to pay $510,000 for the Soul of South Korea offering.

Spirited bidding was also the hallmark of a couple of lots where rare wine was the focus. Repeat auction attendee Gary Reischal, of Mountain View, was last man standing for the first-ever comprehensive vertical tasting for eight of 20 Harlan Estate vintages, plus four double magnums of Harlan wine of the bidders choice. Another bidder, who preferred to remain anonymous, spent $500,000 for a Balthazar (12 liters) of 2010 Screaming Eagle cabernet sauvignon, the same price a dot.com[1] entrepreneur paid for a bottle half the size at the 2000 auction.

Jeffrey Miller, a newcomer from Miami, spent $880,000 for three prized lots:

A week in London for two couples as guests of the San Francisco 49ers, including flight aboard the team plane, lodging, meals and wine offered by Tusk Estates.

A safari and weeklong stay in South Africa and a 10-year vertical of Favia Erickson wines.

A hunting and fishing trip to Montana and an imperial of Eisele Vineyard cabernet from Araujo Estate Wines.

 The chairs lot a golf trip to Scotland offered by the Staglin family was snapped up at $400,000 by Bill Moore, of Laguna Beach, while Dave Copham, of Fort Myers, Fla., paid a similar amount for a 14-night voyage on the worlds largest private yacht for two couples along with a Napa Valley stay and a Persian-themed dinner offered by Darioush and Shahpar Khaledi.

A bidder who chose to remain anonymous paid $450,000 for a trip to Italy and 40 prized bottles of wine from each of Joseph Phelps first 40 vintages.

References

  1. ^ dot.com (dot.com)

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