The decadence at last Saturday’s Auction Napa Valley can be summed up in one image: the swanky Austin Healey sports car parked on the lawn of Meadowood Resort.
The fast car was part of a live auction lot intended to lure bidders with plenty of disposable income.
To capture the color of the auction — the fashion, the table talk, the humor — here’s this year’s list of “bests,” from “best lot” to “best dress” to “best dish.” For those who went to the auction and for the curious who didn’t, here are some snapshots.
Best lot for Hollywood wannabes: Frank Family Vineyards of Napa Valley which featured that cool walk on role in ABC’s hot new comedy “Modern Family.” Eric Stonestreet, who plays Cameron Tucker, took the stage to introduce the lot and had a squirt gun in hand, giving fair warning he’d shoot if bids didn’t spiral to his liking.
Best dish: Veal Crepinetta, a delectable highbrow patty that you’d never find at a burger joint.
Best dress: The satin yellow dress that bidder Holly Grochmal was wearing. It’s from Paparazzi in San Francisco, apparently the imported from Paris. Makes sense. That dress definitely had a French accent.
Best air conditioning: Auction organizers supplied each table with an arsenal of squirt guns, a playful way to temper the warm weather. As the afternoon wore on, the squirt gun warfare became more combative and more refreshing, I might add.
Best last number: The Bangles, who had finished the set, lingered, saying perhaps one more little known number … and then the girl band belted out “Walk Like an Egyptian.” It was great to hear the single that made the ‘80s band famous live. What made it even better was listening to it with a glass of wine — Heitz Cellars, 2005 Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon to be exact. Who says a hit single doesn’t pair well with serious cab?
Best rebound: Organizers raised $7.1 million, up from last year’s take of $4.3 million at the live auction. Paddle holders didn’t show restraint and when they won big, they didn’t appear to have any buyers’ remorse. Mary Miner of San Francisco, who owns Oakville Ranch Vineyards, spent the most on a single lot — $350,000 for 10 bottles of Napa Valley’s Harlan Estate and a dinner for eight. When asked what she plans to do with all the wine, she quipped: “Drink it. And oh yes, maybe share some with others at a party. I love parties.”
Best freeflowing bids: The Napa Valley Vintners, who put on the auction, managed to keep the generous bids flowing for local charities like Community Health Clinic Ole, Boys & Girls Clubs and Napa Valley Community Housing.