Napa Valley Auction Weekend raises $4.8 million. Here are the highlights


The Auction Napa Valley Weekend raised an estimated $4.8 million and delighted wine lovers with a series of fine drinking opportunities on Friday and Saturday.

The immersive charity event included Friday’s barrel auction at St. Helena’s Hall Wines and Saturday’s live auction at Oakville’s Far Niente Winery. Proceeds from the auction weekend will benefit youth mental health services in Napa Valley.

To capture the color of Friday’s barrel auction – the main event – ​​here are some highlights and memorable moments, including the best blind tasting, the best ghost story and the best dressed.

Best blind tasting

Usually in a blind tasting it is the wine that is the unknown variable. But at the Napa Valley barrel auction, the mystery was a person asking for a donation.

Hunter Pence, the retired San Francisco Giants outfielder, asked Diana Hawkins, co-winemaker of Pope Valley Winery, for a barrel sample. At the time, Hawkins didn’t know she was serving baseball royalty. But she felt that the man who drank her wine was some kind of VIP. The vintner called her 16-year-old son, Jon Hawkins, and he warned her about her fame.

The four-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion with the San Francisco Giants made a good impression.

“He (Pence) was super down to earth,” Hawkins said, “and very nice.”

Best ghost story

Multiple sources have reported unusual sights and sounds from the historic stone building that houses the Hall’s tasting room.

Dating back to 1885, the Bergfeld Winery was built by New England sea captain William Peterson before it was sold to San Francisco contractor Robert Bergfeld, a German immigrant, who chiseled away Peterson’s name above the winery’s entrance and replaced it with his own name .

In 2003, Kathryn and Craig Hall purchased the Bergfeld Winery. Three years later, they began a seven-year process to restore the historic stone and wood winery building, which had fallen into disrepair.

Whether it’s Peterson, Bergfeld or other ghosts haunting the old stone building, a Hall employee said at the barrel auction that most ghost stories surface during Halloween — one security guard was even startled by hearing strange noises, such as whispers, coming from the building. People, she said, have reported seeing shadows and hearing whispers and footsteps.

Best dressed

At first glance, Ricardo Jimenez looked like he was dressed for a safari.

The 23-year-old fellow vintner from Firetree Family Vineyard, located in the Carneros region, wore olive-colored pants and a beige shirt with a pattern that resembled a tiger.

But his outfit had a Latin touch: Jimenez wore Samba tennis shoes and a Panama hat, trimmed with a black ribbon.

Jimenez, who grew up in Venezuela, graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on entrepreneurship.

“I’m not sure about the designer of my clothes,” he said modestly when asked. But he added with a laugh: “I know my tennis shoes are sambas and this is a Panama hat!”

Best dish… for Francophiles

While Ad Hoc’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken Slider was the crowd favorite, Francophile guests were drawn to the Angele food station. The restaurant and bar in Napa served a delectable fig compote and Brie Baguette Sandwich, topped with a miniature French flag on a toothpick.

Chef Josue Alvarado said this sandwich “is a representation of our restaurant. And it’s not just the food. Our restaurant is about family and fun.”

Best bourbon drinker in a sea of ​​wine

Manda Meilander, wearing a summer dress and sunglasses, said she was from Wisconsin.

“We’re bourbon people and we’re also used to microbreweries in Wisconsin, but wine is fun,” she said.

Sitting on an easy chair as people swirled wine glasses and feasted on luxurious foods, Meilander followed the whims of her taste buds. When in Rome…

“I’ve never been to Napa before, and this is so beautiful,” she said. “I like Cabernet.”

You can reach wine writer Peg Melnik at 707-521-5310 or [email protected]. On X (Twitter) @pegmelnik.