Napa Valley Vintners gear up for 26th
annual charity auction
By L. PIERCE CARSON, Register Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 30, 2006 1:13 AM PDT
After fine-tuning last year' 25th anniversary remodel, members of
Napa Valley Vintners are putting the finishing touches on plans for
this year's Auction Napa Valley taking place Saturday at St.
Helena's Meadowood Resort.
One of the world's most successful wine charity events, the 2006
edition kicks off Thursday evening as more than 1,000 bidders,
guests and media gather for dinner at more than two dozen
hospitality venues throughout the valley.
While the event's main feature doesn't take place until Saturday
night, auction bidders arrive early for a few days of festive
run-ups to the live auction.
An array of dinner parties, a community celebration and popular
spin-offs -- an auction of wines still in barrel and a cyber-themed
e-auction -- are planned this year.
Since its inception in 1981, the Napa Valley Vintners charity wine
auction has raised more than $61.5 million for local health care
providers, youth programs and housing endeavors meeting the needs of
low income residents and farm workers.
Wine aficionados and collectors come from all over the county and
abroad for the four-day event. Many are regulars eager to donate to
the organizations that benefit from their largesse.
With the auction's record-breaking $10.5 million take last year, the
local trade association was able to realize one more goal --
establishing a $1 million 25th Anniversary Fund for Children's
Health -- the largest-ever single industry or non-foundation private
gift to a children's health initiative in California.
This year's goals
Last year's grant launched the Napa County Children's Health
Initiative to help underwrite health insurance for low- and
middle-income youth under age 18.
"Napa Valley Vintners intends to make sure all children in the Napa
Valley have health insurance," said Jack Cakebread, whose family is
sharing chairmanship duties of Auction Napa Valley 2006.
"Vintners and volunteers come together every year to help the people
of Napa County who need it," added Cakebread. "In addition, we
endeavor to make our guests feel warm, wanted and comfortable -- and
I think we do it with understated class."
Jack and Dolores Cakebread did not talk about a lot of hype or
over-the-top predictions about Saturday's bottom line. Instead, they
expressed gratitude to volunteers for their year-round efforts and
to sponsors who are underwriting everything from new cars to
airplane tickets, luxurious accommodations to opulent cruises.
"General Motors has donated two vehicles for this year's auction,"
the family patriarch declared. "One is part of the Chairs' Lot -- a
Corvette Z06, a street version of the Le Mans racing Corvette with a
532 horsepower engine. I got to pick the color -- blue. If you're
high bidder on this lot you also need to know how to drive it, so
we'll be sending you by private jet to the Bondurant School of High
Performance Driving in Phoenix. And the Corvette will be full of our
family's favorite wines.
"They're also donating a hybrid van which the high bidder will end
up donating to one of our charities after he or she picks the name
of the recipient out of a hat," said Cakebread.
Cakebread went on to sing the praises of the 270-member trade
organization sponsoring the annual charity event. "They can't say no
... all these years of giving and giving and giving. This teamwork
of our bidders and sponsors and vintners has resulted in
considerable benefit to the community."
A busy schedule for
Dolores Cakebread said bidders as well as vintners were contacted
after last year's auction to find out what possible changes could be
made for the 2006 event.
"The biggest change from last year -- which was a basic overhaul of
the auction model in place for more than two decades -- was doing
away with the formal dinner following the auction. This year we're
going to have a party with a dance band," said Jack Cakebread.
While Jack is overseeing all aspects of this year's auction, Dolores
is concentrating on visuals. Sara Cakebread is maintaining liaison
with recipients and Bruce Cakebread is coordinating all aspects of a
new Saturday morning event at Copia.
Teaming up for the party following the live auction are Karen
Cakebread -- in charge of food during and after the auction -- and
Dennis Cakebread, who's in charge of entertainment.
Four well-known chefs are creating and serving up a variety of
finger foods Saturday from demonstration kitchens set up outside the
giant auction tent on the Meadowood fairway. The post-auction
culinary lineup includes Traci Des Jardins, of Jardinire in San
Francisco; John Folse, of Chef John Folse & Co. in Louisiana;
Suzanne Tracht, of Jar in Los Angeles; and renowned pastry chef and
author Mary Cech.
An Idol time at auction
Sixty one-of-a-kind wine, adventure and luxury lots will be put on
the block, starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, as Auction Napa Valley
retains its late afternoon/early evening block of time. Master of
ceremonies is Ryan Seacrest, host of "American Idol" and the
world's most popular countdown show, "American Top 40."
Meadowood chef Vincent Nattress and Cakebread Cellars' chefs Brian
Streeter and Richard Haake are teaming up to create an 18-course
hors d'oeuvre menu to accompany a lavish array of Napa Valley wines
during the live auction.
After a successful inaugural year, the Friday Auction & Festival
featuring "Pride in Season" returns to Trinchero Family Estates on
Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event features wineries pouring
their latest releases, top Napa restaurants and local specialty food
purveyors, live entertainment, barrel tasting and auction of 107
lots, plus an e-auction featuring 162 lots comprised of rare wine
and wine collections.
Attendees at this year's auction can attend private hospitality
events on both Thursday and Friday nights, hosted by participating
New for Saturday is "Good Morning Napa," featuring cooking demos,
breakfast goodies and wine tasting with vintners at Copia. On
Sunday, there are winery open houses throughout Napa Valley.