To capture the color of the auction weekend – the hijinks, the humor, the bidding mentality – here’s this year’s list of “bests,” from best quote, to best lot, to best dish. For those who went to the auction events and for the curious who didn’t, here are some snapshots.
Most bizarre lot:
Lot #12, which sold for $150,000, features a one day Naval SEAL immersion experience for 4 at the Naval Special Warfare Center SEALs training ground in San Diego. The thought of wine drinking Navy SEALS makes me quiver.
When Auctioneer Fritz Hatton introduced the lot of Screaming Eagle, he actually crooned the name, rousing cult cab enthusiasts. The lot, featuring a 12-liter bottle of the Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, sold for $500,000. While a savvy auctioneer, Hatton can be dangerous with a microphone.
Referring to the hot globe-trotting lot that whisks people to wine estates in Europe, David Goldberg said: “I will become gay and marry the guy who bid on that lot.” The lot, which eventually spiraled to $1.6 million, features a two-week trip to the top wine producers and estates, including Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Beaucastel and Pol Roger. Goldberg, a Lexus manager of sales, said it’s the crème de la crème of lots.
Most outrageous snack:
Delivered to bidders tableside were packages of sea lettuce chips. The salty, green-speckled chips drew more than a few inquiries. The server simply replied, “they’re just like kale chips.” Since when did kale chips go mainstream?
Most romantic bottling:
In-between sipping and bidding, Becky Harris and husband Jack of Louisiana had a minute to spare to tell the backstory of their romantic bottling. They were at St. Helena’s Hall Winery Friday tracking bids on five lots at the Napa Valley Barrel Auction. But they stopped mid-bid to reveal they double as winemakers. The couple explained how they produced their own wine label for their daughter’s wedding called “Everlasting.” They made the wine at St. Helena’s Raymond Cellars during the winery’s “Winemaker for a Day” workshop.
Peter Sirota of Quantcast came from San Francisco to Friday’s Napa Valley Barrel Auction to expand his ever-growing wine cellar of 2,000 bottles. He was tracking bids on 10 to 15 lots. “I don’t want to spend more than $20,000,” he said. “That’s my highest limit. That’s my absolute limit. My highest amount. My absolute limit.”
Best bidding advice:
Cabanne Gilbreath of TCG Advisors, a wealth management company, was lingering at the live auction display at Friday’s Napa Valley Barrel Auction. Gilbreath’s bidding advice? “If there’s something you really want, then go for it,” he said. “Generally you don’t regret doing special things like this.” Gilbreath, from Austin, Texas, appeared to be listening to his own advice as talked about the lots he wanted.