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How to still get a taste of Auction Napa Valley

The 35th annual Auction Napa Valley kicks off Wednesday, June 3, and even though the swanky, days-long fundraiser is sold out, that doesn’t mean you can’t get an idea of what it looks like.

The long weekend’s festivities consist of a string of events - tastings, tours and vintner-hosted dinners. The centerpiece of the weekend is the live auction Saturday at Meadowood Resort in St. Helena.

But there’s always opportunity to visit the auction venues without attending the auction - or breaking the bank. While the complete Auction Napa Valley Experience is $3,000 per person, most tasting room fees in the valley range from $30 to $100.

Hall Wines in St. Helena is the backdrop to Friday’s Napa Valley Barrel Auction. In addition to juggling bids for barrels on Friday, Hall will host the Marketplace, offering treats from local restaurants and food purveyors.

Visitors to the winery’s tasting room will want to focus on reds and particularly cabernet sauvignon. At Hall, cab is king.

With its light carbon footprint, it’s a leader in environmental stability. Co-vintners Kathryn Hall (who was U.S. ambassador to Austria from 1997 to 2001) and her husband, Craig, have made it a goal to inspire others to follow their lead.

“We were the first Leed GOLD certified winery in the state of California in 2009,” Craig said.

“We farm organically. I drive an electric car. We are working on a volunteer basis on some major water-saving projects for the state... From our standpoint, we hear a lot of ideal conversation, but what is really needed is action.

“We’re proud of the actions we’ve taken and would encourage some others to do more.”

The goal, Craig said, is to keep a steady eye on Mother Nature.

“Science is telling us that we as people living on this earth need to be more responsible or we’re leaving big problems for future generations that are unnecessary,” Craig said.

Three buildings on the St. Helena premises are worth perusing: the restored 1885 winery, the high-tech production facility and the visitors’ center.

This visitors’ center is not the controversial one planned in 2007. Back then, opponents argued the proposed ultra-modern, 10,000-square-foot glass building had no place in Napa Valley.

Kathryn said the economic downturn ultimately forced them to switch gears.

“We think Napa architect Jarrod Denton of Signum Architecture did a fabulous job,” Kathryn said.

“We love the new design. It’s responsible and exciting. It’s green... The lemon became lemonade.”

Staff writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-521-5310 or peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com.

Auction Napa Valley highlights

FRIDAY is the Napa Valley Barrel Auction at Hall Winery (401 St. Helena Hwy.) in St. Helena, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aside from bidding on barrels, guests will be able to preview live auction lots and graze at the Marketplace.

SATURDAY is the Live Auction at Meadowood Napa Valley (900 Meadowood Ln), noon to 8 p.m. This includes a pre-auction lunch prepared by Chef Michael Chiarello, the Live Auction, post-auction dinner prepared by renowned Parisian Chef Pierre Gagnaire, and after-dinner dancing.

The E-Auction is open for bidding at auctionnapavalley.org for good deed wine-lovers across the globe. Bidding will last nearly a week, with the E-Auction closing in waves starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 6.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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