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The Complete Guide to This Weekend's Bonkers Napa Wine Auction

The ins and outs of the event of the season, Auction Napa Valley. 

The party at Auction Napa Valley

The party at Auction Napa Valley 

 

Over the past 30 years, Auction Napa Valley, thrown by the Napa Valley Vintners Association, has raised and more than $120 million for Napa’s nonprofits—but more importantly, it's also a hell of a good time. The wine is, of course, the big draw, but the event’s parties and dinners don’t hurt. Here's a comprehensive overview of all the ways you can fill up your glass this weekend in wine country.

THE EVENT

The event begins today, June 4th, with vintner welcome parties at wineries throughout Napa Valley. Friday is the barrel auction. If you love the wine, and have a thick wallet, bid to win wine made directly from the barrel. People are dressed in their best, but it’s lively, fun, and anything but stuffy. In addition to the auction, there are all kinds of other festivities and wineries scattered about offering sips and tasty bites from Napa’s most famous restaurants and chefs.

Friday night wineries host dinners and parties. The centerpiece of the event is the live auction on Saturday at Meadowood. Here you’ll bid on experiences and items that you never thought possible, and then dance the night away under the stars. On Sunday wineries host open houses with specials and treats. Bounce from winery to winery celebrating your wins or lamenting your losses.

THE PARTIES AND DINNERS

Clif Family Winery throws a casual moonlight dinner and party, featuring chef John McConnel’s Northern Italian-inspired cuisine. This party includes live music, dancing, and hand crafted wines paired with tasty bites from their Bruschetteria Food Truck.

The Locavore Feast at Dominus Estate is a dressy affair and includes a walk in the vineyard and sunset dinner. Learn about dry farming and sustainable viticulture and admire the striking winery architecture by world-renowned designers Herzog and de Meuron. Later, adjourn to a multi-course vineyard dinner paired with their robust wines.

Explore the massive estate and vineyards at Inglenook before meeting with the host, Philippe Bascaules, its managing director and winemaker. Take a tour of the caves, enjoy some hors d’oeuvres, and then get ready for an extravagant dinner in a secluded vineyard location.

The Dancing in the Vines party at St. Supery Estate Vineyard and Winery begins with a dinner prepared from St. Supery’s heirloom fruit orchards and gardens. After the dinner and wine, there will be a dance party and surprise performance from one of City Winery’s favorite musicians.

Everyone in Napa knows that Robin and Michelle Baggett know how to throw a party at Alpha Omega Winery. Dine on the patio under the stars, accompanied by live music on a grand piano. They are planning on serving exotic appetizers before Robins’s famous barbecue, which comes straight from his massive, state-of-the-art smokers. He’ll be cooking suckling pig, leg of lamb, and fresh salmon while you sip on barrel samples, dine, and dance.

City Winery is pairing with Crocker & Star wines for a red carpet party and dinner in downtown Napa filled with musical surprises. Start with bubbles and head through the backstage entrance to City Winery, past the Gibson guitar collection, and then dine with Pam Star in a stage level penthouse. The evening ends with cigars and cognac on the penthouse deck.

Saving perhaps the best for last, join host Jean-Charles Boisset at Raymond Vineyards for an intimate black tie gathering. Start in the golden JSB lounge with libations, and then head to the “velvet-ensconced Red Room” for wine tastings. After, the group will meander through the winery to the Crystal Cellar for dinner and dancing to live music.

 

PUBLIC PARTIES & DINNERS

Don’t fret if you didn’t buy a package, there are plenty of top-notch options for dining and celebrating throughout the valley. Here are some recommendations:

Press Napa Valley has some of the most innovative dishes in the valley and is perhaps the best place in the valley for a chop or a steak. This restaurant is also about as “Napa Valley” as it comes, so fits perfectly with the Auction.

A total locals spot, Cook St. Helena has a small menu but pretty much everything on it is saucy and hearty, especially the pastas. You can’t go wrong here, but you may have trouble finding a table or even a seat at the bar.

Next-door, Cook Tavern is your best bet if you’re looking to watch the game and have a burger, fries, mac and cheese or small plate. It also gets rocking at nighttime along with Ana’s Cantina, a local dive bar.

Goose and Gander has what many consider the best bar in all of Napa Valley—and definitely has the best scallops. Hang here for drinks or on the large outdoor patio with locals and St. Helena partiers.

Most restaurants in Napa Valley are farm-to-table, but Farmstead not only grows all of their own veggies but also raise all of their own beef. Locals and tourists alike hang at the bar and on the patio until late.

Try Ciccio for killer cozy Italian or Bottega for the robust and flavorful menu provided by Michael Chiarello, the featured chef at the live auction on Saturday.

 

Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco

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