Auction Napa Valley Report: Lights, Camera, Oprah!

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EV_NapaAuction060908_200.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Known variously as The American Wine Classic and "the granddaddy of all wine auctions," Auction Napa Valley 2008 went down on June 9th at the lavish Meadowood resort, though the vibe was decidedly more subdued than in previous years.  Whether you blame the scaled back fanfare on the tough economic climate, the heat (though it's typically scorching in Napa every year around Auction time) or the recent passing of Napa scion Robert Mondavi, the auction was without a doubt more mellow than usual.  
Healthy Bidding
But it wasn't all ho-hum:  in spite of rising gas prices and worrisome unemployment figures, bidders at this year's auction raised a near-record $10.35 million for local charities, including nearly $1 million for a special tribute lot to Mondavi himself, who passed away just three weeks before the auction. Tonight Show funnyman Jay Leno cracked jokes for the VIPs throughout the evening, and megastar Oprah Winfrey - who I just missed glimpsing Friday at the pre-auction "Taste of Napa Valley" event - caused a stir as a first-time attendee (she was heard to quip "Napa Valley is my new favorite place").  Not a bad compliment, Napa.  Here's to hoping next year sees a return of high spirits and energy along with healthy bidding.  

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