California wine country is no stranger to luxury and extravagance. From extraordinary hotels to lavish spas to world-class restaurants, Napa knows how to pamper. One event, however, puts all this glamor and taste on full display: Auction Napa Valley. We attended the event this past weekend, and take it from us: If you’re a food, wine, and travel fanatic like we are, you need to experience the epic festivities for yourself.
The glitzy event takes place at Meadowood, one of Napa’s most legendary resorts. Founded in 1981, in part by the Mondavi family, Auction Napa Valley is hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners.
The week features vintner-hosted parties, a grand dinner with a big-deal host (this year it was the Coppola family—Francis personally oversaw the food production), and enough wine to get a stadium tipsy. The main events, however, are a barrel auction featuring juice from many of the valley’s best winemakers, as well as the grand Live Auction Celebration, where guests drop a staggering amount of money for boatloads of wine and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. A particularly enticing lot from this year: “From One Gardened Coppola Courtyard to Another,” which includes a stay for six in the Coppola family’s private wine country estate as well as their luxury hotel in Italy, with a return trip on the Coppola family private jet. That experience—in case a Coppola-approved vacation weren’t enough—also comes with 126 bottles of wine.
This is no black-tie affair, though. Guests dress in their best wine-country attire, from billowing floral dresses and floppy hats to smart, lightweight suits and blazers. Dropped into the reception tent, you may think you’re at a casual Kentucky Derby party. The pre-Auction event is a great time to meet some of the valley’s winemakers, too: Vintners walk around with open bottles, offering tastes to anyone who says hello. All guests are seated with a vintner at the Live Auction Celebration, and anywhere you go, you’ll be offered excellent—and sometimes extremely rare—tastes. The night wraps up with a big-name musical act. This year, the crooning Leon Bridges putting on a spectacular show.
Your next chance to experience this crazy event is spring 2018. Trust us: It’s worth the wait. Pencil in May 31st-June 3rd next year for a week of meeting Napa locals and wine enthusiasts from around the globe at one of the world’s best resorts. Tickets range from $500 per person for the Napa Valley Barrel Auction to a $20,000 per couple VIP Auction Napa Valley Experience, which includes access to the entire week of events, lodging at Meadowood, a chauffeur, and a private concierge.
The best part? It’s all for a good cause: All proceeds go to local nonprofits, including early childhood education and community health projects. This year, Auction Napa Valley raised $15.7 million for the Napa community. That’s something to raise a glass to.
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