Wine and song

  • The Silverado Pickups, Jeff Gargiulo, left, Shane Soldinger, and David Duncan perform during the Napa Crossroads album release party at City Winery in Napa, Calif., on April 28, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

The Silverado Pickups is a rockabilly band and who would have guessed its honky-tonk musicians are moonlighting Napa Valley vintners?

By day, David Duncan is the CEO of Silver Oak Cellars and Twomey Cellars, as well as a chief organizer of this year's Auction Napa Valley with its big rollout this weekend.

Between rehearsing and helping to plan the auction, Duncan has had to step up his pace.

"People don't realize what goes into an event like this, how much generosity there is even before the bidders show up," he said.

Events begin Thursday, with the main attraction Saturday's live auction at Meadowood Resort in St. Helena. Another popular draw is Friday's Napa Valley Barrel Auction at Charles Krug in St. Helena.

This year's theme — "Sweet Home Napa Valley" — comes with an oversized prop: a colorful hot-air balloon that will be anchored at the Meadowood grounds.

Duncan and his wife, Kary, have teamed up with Jeff and Valerie Gargiulo of Napa's Gargiulo Vineyards to co-chair the auction. It's been a year-long preparation.

"We've been very active in recruiting to bring in new bidders as well as past bidders to the auction," Duncan said. "Last year was amazing. It was a perfect storm of lots and bidders in the room."

Last year's take was record-breaking; the live auction reeled in $14 million, while the grand total for the entire weekend was $16.9 million.

Courting bidders proved to be a successful strategy, so vintners were at it again this year, hosting eight different events throughout the year in cities that included Shanghai and Hong Kong.

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