My Wrap-Up of Premiere Napa Valley

napa valley

I had the great pleasure of going out to Napa for the Premier Napa Valley Barrel Auction.

The event is a live auction of wines, donated by the vineyards and not available on the market.

The wines are auctioned off in lots of 60-240 bottles. Each bottle is hand-labeled and signed by winemaker. So they are super-collectible and super rare.

The event is sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners, a nonprofit trade association that has been around since 1944. The NVV’s promotes Napa Valley and uses the event to raise money to help in times of need. We sell tickets online and by phone. Remember the earthquake in 2014, the NVV was able to quickly disburse money to the community.

Well, they raised $5 million this year – that’s the third highest amount in the event’s 20-year history. Check out this link out for details of the wines auctioned .

And they added an online component this year – 26 of the 226 wines sold were auctioned online. Cool.

Even cooler is that during the days prior to the auction, there are tons of parties and events so you can taste the wines being offered.

And I went to a bunch. So here is my list of the top ten super fun things I experienced while I was out there — in no particular order. Big note:  I’m not the greatest photographer.  And if you don’t feel like reading, then pour a glass of wine and listen below.

1. The View from My Room at the Harvest Inn — It was basically the backyard to the Whitehall Lane Vineyards. Not too terrible.

2. Rudd Oakville Estates Tour – Even under construction, the property is so tranquil and zen-like. Much of the renovation is under the guidance of Mr. Rudd’s daughter Samantha, who’s only been out of college for 6 years but truly making her mark

3. Wine Tasting at Joseph Phelps Vineyards — The St. Helena winery at Joseph Phelps has also been newly renovated. The tasting was fantastic. Insignia? Need I say more. The Syrah was awesome too but the best part was the 4-minute video on “cooperage,” which is basically how they make wine barrels. So cool.

4.  Frank Family Trade and Media Dinner — It was in their Old Stone Winery and hosted by Rich and Leslie Frank, their hysterical winemaker Todd Graff and Chef Nash Cognetti (whose food was off the hook).  But they the poured the Patriarch, which is not available yet. It’s a Cab Frank dedicated to his dad and it was AMAZING. We’ve talked about the Patriarch here before.

5. The Auction — The actual auction was crazy. My first time. Doug Shafer of Shafer Vineyards gave the opening speech and then the paddles started flying. Nuts.

6. Party at Raymond Vineyards — It was Vegas in Napa. Let’s just say there is a red room. ‘Nuff said.

7. Lunch with Fourth Generation Mondavis — It was the best lunch ever spending time talking with Rob and his second cousin Angelina about their wines and their project together, appropriately named Four Leaf, which is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50/50 from each of their families vineyards. Awesome.

8. Dinner at PRESS — Awesome steak – but I am in love with their Hen of the Woods mushrooms. Literally started thinking about them when I got on the plane in NYC.

(I forgot to take a picture — I ate them too fast.)

9. Late-night Sift Cupcake and glass of Shafer Hillside Select.

It was a dark chocolate cupcake, white chocolate mousse filling topped with chocolate buttercream and the wine was a 2009. Don’t have to say much more.

10. Meeting New Wines

There were a ton of new wines to explore of the few days there. A few of my favorites:

The Aloft. Angelina Mondavi is one of the wine makers. It blew me away. Really.


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Tracy Byrnes has what many might call a dream gig, matching a career as an experienced and well-respected business... More about Tracy Byrnes

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