Inside Auction Napa Valley’s ‘e-xperience’

27th May, 2014 by Catherine Seda Bugue

To bring in millions of dollars, the lots at Auction Napa Valley have to be wildly spectacular; and they are.

AuctionNapaValleyWalk-on television parts, joining the red carpet and cast on Broadway; being in on the secret at a Victoria’s Secret runway show; a multi-country tour and sports de force; and a personal meet and greet with the newest Kentucky Derby stud.

These are only a few of the experiences that bidders win each year along with some of the world’s top wines.

There is, however, a separate group of lots that offer a great diversity of experiences and wines in its own right—Auction’s e-auction packages.

Winning bidders this year will go bowling with a star vintner and her friends before being whisked off to a four-star dinner; they will spend a night learning to tango with a historic winemaking family; and enjoy a whirlwind night of private balcony dining at The City Winery at the Napa Opera House before a show and overnight stay—only to have show tickets waiting in several other cities. There are also single bottles of wine, albeit very special bottles.

With a new name this year, the Napa Valley Vintner’s E-XPERIENCE offers the most lots to date: one hundred and seventy-five, and 80% of the packages include a vintner or winery experience.

For wine packages, there is an instant-cellar of two dozen top bottles; verticals of rare and older vintages; and large formats not offered to the general public.

Actual bidding begins June 1 at 12:00p.m. and ends Sunday, June 8th at noon. New this year, are pop up boxes that appear when a bid is placed. The bidder can now see a real example of where his or her winning dollars will go.

In a preview of the E-XPERIENCE packages, a small group of Napa Valley vintners and media gathered to taste the wines and review the offerings of a couple dozen online lots. The packages they were most intrigued by are listed below:

Bill Dyer chose the Ackerman Family Vineyards package for its whirlwind offerings–something he is interested in doing himself. He can spend time with a winemaker any day (he is married to vintner Dawnine Dyer) but he would love the extravagant visit to City Winery in the new Mercedes Sprinter Limousine for a reception, dinner and show on a private balcony with an overnight stay in deluxe King rooms at the Westin Versa.

David Stevens of St. Helena’s 750 Wines said the Tango party at Viader ‘sounds like a hoot’, with great views at the winery to boot. The winner and eleven of his or her closest friends will watch and take part in Argentine tango with a South American meal prepared by French Laundry-trained Mariela Viader.Lightmatter_napa_valley

Winemaker Jac Cole recommends the Ceja family package because the winning bidder will spend personal time with owners Amelia and Pedro Ceja. The family’s incredible story, from vineyard workers to winery owners, is inspiring, and the win will be tasty as well—wines from the Cejas’ private cellar will be sipped along with authentic Mexican bites prepared by Amelia herself.
Called the M. Coz History Lesson, Dave Stoneberg, editor of the St. Helena Star, chose the rare vertical of Napa Valley wines (1988 to 2010) which winners will taste with vintner Mitch Cosentino.

Cindy Webber of the Napa Valley Register favored the Turnbull lot for its superb 2008 Black Label wine—which a good number of vintners chose as their favorite wine. She also preferred this lot’s ‘more manageable’ size. The winning bidder will have an overnight guesthouse stay and pizza party, then depart with a 9 Liter bottle of wine.

Winemaker Kristin Belair chose the joint package from Chimney Rock Winery, Rutherford Hill and Markham. Kristin explained that “these amazing wines are all made by amazing female winemakers”. The winner receives three dozen wines, a VIP tour, tasting and gourmet lunch with the three winemakers–who are all featured on the PBS series “Vintage Napa Valley 2012”.

Sean Scully, the new editor at the Napa Valley Register was intrigued most by Peju’s Up, Up and Away package. This lot, he says, has a generous dose of activities that are usually enjoyed by visitors to the valley, but secretly desired by locals. Several panelists immediately agreed that they were eyeing this package’s hot air balloon ride. The winner and guests will also attend a harvest dinner, VIP tasting, and receive over two dozen bottles of wine.

With EX-PERIENCE lots now live, aren’t you curious what else Napa Valley is offering?

The full list of online auction lots are viewable now here.


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