It was a beautiful, warm day Friday at the Charles Krug Winery with an estimated 2,000 people enjoying barrel samples of wine inside and the day outside.
Inside, representatives from 110 Napa Valley wineries poured samples of their latest vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon, mostly 2016, for people to taste and bid on. Patsy McGaughy, communications director for the Napa Valley Vintners, said preliminary results indicate the barrel auction did very well and added it was “very successful.”
Friday’s Napa Valley Barrel Auction and Marketplace was the kickoff to today’s Live Auction Celebration, sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners. It begins at 1 p.m. at Meadowood Napa Valley Resort, continues with the live auction at 3:30 p.m., dinner afterward and an after party at 9 p.m. at The Charter Oak in St. Helena. Nine hundred people are expected at auction.
Outside on Friday, there were tables for sitting under shade trees in the grass as 14 restaurants prepared and served all kinds of picnic-sized portions to go with the different wines being poured. This year, the marketplace was organized by geographic regions as people wandered through the villages of the Napa Valley, from Calistoga to Napa. By design, the restaurants served fan favorites, including grilled chicken kale salad from the Rutherford Grill, fried chicken from Yountville’s Southside Café, burgers from Goose & Gander in St. Helena and Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches from All Season’s Bistro in Calistoga. Seventy-six wineries poured their wines to go with the food.
Jon Emmerich, winemaker for Silverado Vineyards, was one of those wandering through the villages. How did he like Friday? “It’s great. C’mon, were in Napa. The Napa appellation as a whole is hot, hot, hot and people love being here. We’re the center of the universe right now.”
Napa County Dist. 5 Supervisor Belia Ramos said it is always good being back in St. Helena, where she grew up and added the weather is “absolutely awesome perfect.”
She attended the barrel auction wearing her “Community Official” badge as did Supervisors Diane Dillon and Alfredo Pedroza, Napa Mayor Jill Techel, Yountville Mayor John Dunbar, St. Helena Mayor Alan Galbraith and U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena.), among others.
Ramos said, “The barrel auction is one of the great kickstarts to Auction Napa Valley tomorrow and for me, it is really important to support the auction, to show people our gratitude to the vintners for everything they do for our community.” She mentioned the millions of dollars that the Napa Valley Vintners donate through Auction Napa Valley for community health and children’s education. “We would not be the incredible place that we are without the generosity of the vineyards.”
Solo guitarist Jackson Rohm greeted guests as they arrived, before heading into the renovated Redwood Cellars where the barrel auction was held.
Like many others, Emerson was pouring a 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon. “I like the 2016s. It’s going to be a great drinkable vintage and I think people are really enjoying them,” he said.
Michael Beaulac from Pine Ridge Winery also was pouring his 2016 vintage, from Stag’s Leap District, “because that’s what we’re about. Our home is in Stag’s Leap District, we have 47 acres planted there and it’s the most compelling, interesting wine we make.” He said the 2016 vintage represents nice wines, “they’re round, they’re soft and complex.” He added, though, he’s “super excited to show off the 2017s, because “they are amazing wines, with a structure, complexity and intensity that is amazing.” The 2017s were picked before the Oct. 8 wildfires that swept through parts of the Napa Valley. Beaulac said in the Stag’s Leap District, all of the fruit was picked, in the house and down in the barrels before the fires began. “The wines are beautiful right now,” he said.
Outside under the large tents, the Northern California band, KJ All-Stars, entertained the crowd, while Elaine Jones from Jones Family Vineyards, spoke about “Funding the Future,” the last lot in the live auction, sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners. By bidding on that lot, donors can raise their paddles for the “gifts of safety, health, academic success and family cohesion … to tens of thousands of children and families who make up the fabric of our community,” Jones said, quoting from the auction catalog.
Jones said she is involved with the UpValley Family Center, the St. Helena Hospital Foundation and the business and hospitality aspects of Calistoga’s Jones Family Vineyards, which she owns with her husband, Rick.