Sunday, May 29, 2011

Boxers or Briefs?

Napa in your pajamas.

Sounds like some fun! Barrel tasting with a group of Victoria’s Secret Models! But wait, it’s only fifty five degrees in the barrel room. I guess they’re all wearing flannel. Bummer, dude!

Perhaps I’m being too literal. What I’m actually trying to get across is that it's easy to participate in Auction Napa Valley! This year our E-Auction features over 150 lots. Even better than the convenience of browsing, bidding, and even winning these lots from home is knowing that all the money goes to support health, youth, and affordable housing non-profits in the Napa Valley.

…and oh, how technology has changed since we started…

When the E-Auction was introduced in 2005, there were no iPhones, iPads, Androids, and what Blackberrys were around were clunky monstrosities. DSL in your home was a luxury. If you asked someone about “WiFi”, the response would probably be “WTF”.

Today, we are so connected, you can reach out and connect to the 2011 E-Auction with so much ease…it’s all around you. You can bid from any number of places:

  • While sitting on the beach
  • From the gym
  • Join the Mile High Club! Many airlines now offer WiFi on board.
  • During a dental cleaning
  • Inside a confessional booth

While I hope you all share my unbridled passion for the E-Auction, there are certain places I highly recommend you please do not check on the status of your bid, including:

  • During a job interview
  • While breaking up with someone
  • A public restroom at the airport…that double click may be mistaken for a foot tap.
  • From a funeral

…and, in all seriousness, please do not bid while driving.

The quality, diversity, and sheer fun creativity behind all the lots this year are unparalleled. Have fun browsing! Bid early, bid often, and have a great time with us online as we strive to pass the $100 million mark in funds raised for our community!

Andy Schweiger
Schweiger Family Vineyards
E-Auction Chair

Auction Napa Valley 3.0

This year marks the 31st anniversary of Auction Napa Valley and as with most things, the auction keeps improving with age. While we've dabbled in technology and social media in past years, in 2011 we decided to jump in - feet first. So whether you're joining us next weekend for the wine charity event of the year or following all the action from home, read on for all the new tech-friendly ways you can plug into Auction Napa Valley.


SCVNGR is a cool new iPhone and Android application in which participants do challenges, earn points and collect rewards. To up the 'technie ante,' we decided to jump on the bandwagon and develop a fun SCVNGR game for our guests at the Friday Barrel Auction & Marketplace event. So get your camera phones ready and brush up on your texting skills - SCVNGR will be your guide to a new Auction Napa Valley experience!

1. Download SCVNGR via your app store or at
2. Click on ‘Treks’ in the main menu and select ‘Auction Napa Valley’
3. Click on ‘Auction Napa Valley’ above the map to complete challenges and earn points
4. View point progress and unlock your reward under the ‘Info’ tab


Auction Napa Valley is on Twitter! Whether you're tweeting at the event or keeping up with the latest news from home, be sure to use the hashtag #ANV11 to share your experiences with other Auction Napa Valley followers.

Unless you have a penchant for mentally blocking big screen TVs from view, you won't be able to miss the #ANV11 tweets at the Friday event - three Twitterwalls placed throughout the event will follow the #ANV11 conversation.

QR Codes & the mobile E-Auction

Don't want to type a long web address into your mobile phone to bid at the e-Auction (which, by the way, is open to bidders across the globe)? No problem! Simply scan the E-Auction QR code at the right to be brought to the e-Auction bidding page. And oh, did we mention that the E-Auction site is mobile phone friendly? Check!

Online 3-D Catalog

Left your Auction Napa Valley catalog at home or simply looking to browse (and drool) over the Live Auction lots? It's all online - no really, the whole thing! Check out the 3D version of the catalog here.

So the moral of the story is...if you love technology, social media and Auction Napa Valley, don't forget your cell phone charger next weekend!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: A Q&A with Martin Estate's Frederic Delivert

Martin Estate's eight acre Rutherford vineyard and the winery nestled among the vines have never looked better, and large amounts of credit are due to Martin Estate Winemaker Frederic Delivert (pictured at right, with Meadowood Resort's Master Sommelier Gilles de Chambure). The French born and trained enologist with a Masters in agricultural sciences has been slowly transforming the property since his arrival several years ago. It always amazes us that Frederic managed to improve upon wines that were already excellent to begin with. Of course, he credits Petra and Greg Martin with much of that success, saying "they have spared no expense in order to give me the tools to achieve such prestigious levels."

Frederic took some time away from the vines - where he and vineyard manager Josh Clark have been t-budding a few blocks with new Cabernet clones along with some Petit Verdot - in order to answer a few questions about his winemaking genesis and what makes the vineyard at Martin Estate so extraordinary. We invite you to pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of wine, and get comfortable.

1. First, tell us about your winemaking background, both here and abroad.

I took extensive courses on winemaking and viticulture during my college years while completing my Masters in Agricultural Sciences. Each school year included an internship requirement, and I used them to immerse myself in the wine industry. I worked my first harvest in 1991; this year will be my 18th. In France, I worked predominantly in the southwest regions and the Languedoc. When I relocated to Northern California, I knew that when it came to the best soils, climate and what we Frenchmen call terroir, the Napa Valley was the preeminent AVA (American Viticultural Area). Over the last two decades, I have worked for five different wineries in this valley.

2. Were you raised in a winemaking family? What was the genesis for your love of wine, and when did you decide to enter into the winemaking profession, which is not as luxurious as it is often portrayed.

I was not raised in a winegrowing or winemaking family. I grew up mostly in the countryside, where wine was always a part of our culture. My friends were from farming families; their parents had a block of vines from which they made their own wine. It is essential to realize that wine is an everyday drink in France. It is always around. Don’t ask me what is the legal age to drink over there…

Growing up surrounded by farmers, I fell in love with agriculture. And, the more I studied the wine industry, the more I realized it mixed a variety of intriguing aspects – farming, science, marketing, art; even the barrel programs and elements of packaging from the corks to the labels and glass. Of course, I always enjoyed drinking the final result, too.

3. How did you meet the Martin family? What drew you to them and to Martin Estate? Why did you decide to leave a more corporate winery atmosphere for a small estate winery?

I met the Martins through a common friend. A small estate affords you the opportunity to concentrate on the entire process, from vineyard to bottle. It was important for me to be able to put my feet back into the vineyard. The roots of a good wine are good grapes. In fact, 75% of winemaking happens in the vineyard, yet so many positions offered to me did not include any real vineyard work. In order to make world-class wine, the vineyard needs to be spectacular, and the perfect example is Martin Estate.

Managing a small single vineyard estate allows us to have complete control of our fruit. Because the vineyard is literally steps from the winery, we can intensely observe all facets of the growing season. We don’t have to rely upon someone else’s farming standards, which means we are never surprised by the condition of our fruit. The viticultural practices we perform – when and how we prune our vines, our irrigation methods, the decision to green harvest each year – in order to raise the quality of the grapes are crucial to the end result. Martin Estate’s size is ideal for this intensive style of winemaking; in many ways it is an extended garden. I can go from vineyard to winery in a couple of minutes.

Last but not least, Petra and Greg Martin are as committed as I am to making the highest quality wine, and have spared no expense in order to give me the tools to achieve such prestigious levels.

4. What is it that makes the Martin Estate vineyard so special?

First: the fact that we have only the first generation of vines on the property. I know of no other Napa Valley property that can make that claim. Second: the size, which makes it a true boutique winery. Third: the rich history of the property, that inspires me every day I drive through the gate. How many people can say they work in a 19th century chateau where Georges de Latour made his first wine, on grounds that in the 1850s belonged to Captain George Yount.

5. What are the greatest joys in working for a small, family winery?

Human size, flexibility, tight relationships. The peace that comes with knowing I have everything under control.

6. What are the greatest challenges?

When something unexpected happens, things can get hectic very fast; we are a small team. That is when the tightly knit relationships and flexibility prove invaluable, as everyone is committed to staying after hours and helping each other, even if it is not in his or her official “field.”

7. What is your winemaking philosophy?

Getting the healthiest grapes to perfect maturity, and then using the tools that have proven their value to get the best expression possible from these grapes.

8. The French word “terroir” is so difficult for the layman wine drinker to define. How would you best explain “terroir?”

Let’s keep it simple and say that I consider it to be the combination of your site and its unique soils with the weather you get – but I would also like to add myself, as the human factor, to the package. Without the winemaker, terroir is just terroir. But what you taste in a Martin Estate wine is the terroir I bottled. Am I making sense or have I left you confused?

9. Just a little but I see your point. Since your arrival four years ago, Martin Estate has made some major changes in the way wine is produced – barrel fermentation, concrete tanks, state of the art sorting equipment for harvest. Can you tell us how these new pieces have affected the winemaking process?

While it is true that the only thing you really need to make a great wine is great fruit, I believe certain pieces of equipment and techniques can further enhance its quality. My main thought behind any change on the production end is that it has to benefit the wine’s quality. I also take into consideration the fact that we are a small company, so if it makes some tasks more efficient, that is a definite plus. Finally, the pieces have to be visually appealing, as preserving the aesthetic of this 19th century property has always been essential to the Martin family.

Let’s look at some changes I made and how they affected the winemaking :

- We now use clippers for our hand harvest, instead of the usual picking knife. We pick the grapes into small bins (30 lbs each versus half a ton in the past). This means the grapes don’t get damaged by hasty pickers, or crushed by being piled on top of each other. They arrive on the crush pad in pristine shape, and we don’t have oxidation problems or juice running off and getting lost.

- The advantage of our new state-of-the-art sorting system is tha it allows us to only put berries in the fermentation vats; any piece of leaf, stem or raisin has been thoroughly removed. The table allows us to process the fruit faster, too, so we don’t have grapes sitting in the sun for hours. Because our equipment doesn’t require light to properly sort the fruit, we are able to start picking our grapes at night, so the grapes come into the winery cool and fresh.

- We custom designed French concrete tanks, and the insulation and micro-oxygenation they provide, gives us a softer and fruitier wine. Because they were custom made in France to my specifications, it gives me the tool I need to accomplish my goal of making Martin Estate the best new world wine, using old world techniques.

And these are just a few examples. Since my arrival, we have improved our barrel program, which is now 100% French oak, as well as the wine chilling capacity, which allows us to perform cold soaks. But you better stop me right here, before I become too technical. May I suggest we have a glass or our wine, and let it speak for itself?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Auction Napa Valley Beneficiary Story: Welcome Every Baby

Welcome Every Baby is a is a free service available to all newborns and their families in Napa County that focuses on the very important relationship between parents and their babies.

Welcome Every Baby Story

This client was in her twenties and was considered significantly high-risk by the providers caring for her during her pregnancy and delivery. This was her first pregnancy and child. She had used drugs before she found out she was pregnant, had been the victim of domestic violence and the father of her baby was incarcerated. She had a history of difficulties in school and depression.

She was referred to the Welcome Every Baby program after delivery. The hospital staff was concerned that she had a very difficult labor and did not want anything to do with the baby. She had attempted to breastfeed but sent the baby to the nursery and did not want to spend time with her. Everyone was concerned about poor bonding and attachment.

A Public Health-Welcome Every Baby nurse began visiting her at her parent’s home soon after delivery. The PHN formed a supportive and empathic relationship with the client and helped her understand her baby’s cues, temperament and development. The nurse assisted and supported the new mom in becoming a good parent and “falling in love” with her baby which is a critical task for the baby’s future social, emotional, and cognitive well being, ability to learn in school and be successful in life. The nurse also assisted mom in getting the care she needed for herself and her baby including getting treatment and counseling for postpartum depression, and needed referrals to resources in the community.

The baby is now nine months old and is a healthy, happy girl who is developmentally on task and thriving. Mom has developed excellent parenting skills and is nurturing, tender, and affectionate with her daughter. They share a strong attachment and mom is appropriately worried about her child and also very proud of her accomplishments. The client was able to get an apartment on her own. The PHN stated that this client has come so far and done such a good job when most people did not think it was possible. The PHN also stated that this is the only client she has ever had that filled out every single Ages and Stages Developmental Questionnaire and has been so excited about her child’s development. The PHN feels like this is the first time the client has ever felt so successful and proud, and that she now truly understands what a good parent she is and what a wonderful relationship she has developed with her daughter.

Friday, May 20, 2011

How to bid at the Auction Napa Valley Barrel Auction

At the Barrel Auction at the Taste Napa Valley event on June 3rd, there will be 100 barrel lots for guests to taste and bid up. How does one evaluate a barrel lot? How many cases are available? How does one place a bid? Demystify the Barrel Auction by watching this short video!

Not able to attend this year's Auction Napa Valley? There are more than 150 amazing e-lots that you can bid on as part of our e-Auction! Learn more here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Auction Napa Valley Beneficiary Story: Rianda House

Rianda House provides seniors in our community with an environment for social, educational and recreational activities in order to enhance dignity, encourage community involvement, support independence and promote healthy, active living.

Rianda House Story

A Rianda House regular invited an older woman (mid 80’s) who lives alone to join her for a game of dominoes that is offered weekly at the Center. Cautiously the woman showed up to play and realized she was having a lot of fun.

As time went on however, the woman clearly showed signs of ill health, frustration, dementia and her friends from “dominoes day” began to worry. When the woman didn’t show up one day, they were told by another group member that the woman wound up in the hospital after taking a bad fall.

Her friends wanted to take action and were able to made contact with a relative and learned that she was indeed in mental decline and as a result, was not eating well or taking care of herself. Knowing the resources available at Rianda House, her friends encouraged her to get more involved. Motivated by this outpouring of support and feeling comfortable with the familiar surroundings at Rianda house, she signed up for brain fitness and exercise classes, attended a Falls Prevention workshop and began to join in on the thrice weekly congregate meals.

Five months later, she now comes to the center almost daily, has greatly improved health and is laughing with her friends.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Auction Napa Valley Beneficiary Story: ParentsCAN

ParentsCAN (Parents-Child Advocacy Network), a beneficiary of Auction Napa Valley funding, is an organization that provides hope, peer-to-peer support, resources and educational opportunities for families in Napa County who have children with learning, mental, emotional, developmental or physical disabilities. This is a story about a family who found the support they needed through the ParentsCAN network.

ParentsCAN Story

Guadalupe and Jose have two children. Their oldest son Mario is 9 years old and was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2. Mario’s school referred Guadalupe and her family to ParentsCAN because they felt Guadalupe needed to find a support group.

During our initial assessment we quickly learned that indeed Guadalupe and her family were very isolated. They had no family in the area, nor did they know anyone else that had a child like theirs. But as we continued talking, Guadalupe began to express that she was very overwhelmed with the challenging behavior her son exhibited and many times she would stay behind with her son while her husband and daughter went out. The simplest outings, such as going to the grocery store, were filled with so much chaos and turmoil due to her son’s behavior that she would just rather stay home. She was also very fearful to leave Mario with anyone other than her husband. She was frustrated with her son’s school - Mario did not seem to be making any progress. Even after attending numerous meetings with his teachers, nothing seemed to be helping her son.

Although Guadalupe was referred to ParentsCAN to find a support group, after our initial assessment, she decided that a more immediate need for her was to find help for her son to be able to manage his behavior, without this there was just no way for her to even think about going to a support group. In turn, Guadalupe was assigned to a ParentsCAN advocate who is also a mother of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. For the first time Guadalupe talked to someone who she felt could really understand her situation and an instant connection was made. Guadalupe and her advocate developed a plan to help her find services and support for her son. Guadalupe was given information regarding Mario’s disability, she was able to understand why it was that he was having trouble in certain situations. She was registered for a workshop on special education that taught Guadalupe her rights and responsibilities so she could be more effective in her conversations with the school. Additionally, her advocate made several referrals to local agencies that could provide Guadalupe with in-home behavioral therapy.

Several months later, a smiling Guadalupe attended her first support group. Although things were not perfect and her son was still having behavior problems, the school and her home program were now working together, her son’s behavior was slowly improving. As a result of a referral from ParentsCAN she had also qualified for respite care, with both of these services in place Guadalupe was able to leave Mario with a trained care provider giving her confidence to leave her home and attend the support group.

Recently Guadalupe has started volunteering for ParentsCAN; she makes phone calls to parents to invite them to the monthly support group, she arrives early to help the group facilitator set up and is always the first to volunteer to help with other projects. Mario is also doing much better at school and at home, on occasion he has tantrums but now Guadalupe knows what to do to manage his behavior. Guadalupe has been able to be at every support group meeting and shares her story with every new parent that attends the group.

Guadalupe found support that is much more than just a monthly meeting she can attend, she has found a place that gives her confidence, hope and a sense of empowerment to accept her son’s disability, be able to cope with her situation and has equipped her to advocate for the needs of her son and her family.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Auction Napa Valley - Beneficiary Stories

Since it's inception in 1981, Auction Napa Valley has given nearly $100 million to scores of non-profit programs throughout the Napa Valley. That's a pretty big number to digest - what exactly does $100 million mean to our community?

To help answer that question, we've collected stories from the organizations that receive funding through Auction Napa Valley grants. In the weeks leading up to this year's auction, June 2-5, we want to share these stories with you.

Our first story comes from Napa CASA - a voice for children. Napa CASA provides court appointed advocates for abused and neglected children who, through no fault of their own, have become dependents of the court. This story from Mary, a CASA volunteer, demonstrates how essential these services are to the children in our community.

A story from Mary, a CASA volunteer

I had heard about CASA and after I saw an ad in the paper, I called to learn more about the program. I did not realize that there was such a need until I was told of the number of children waiting for a CASA volunteer. I took the training after I retired from teaching school for 25 years. I had seen some of these children in my classroom so I had some understanding of their needs.

Being a CASA volunteer is a lot like being a detective. You have to talk to everyone involved. To help a child you have to really know what is going on and gather all the information you can. First I read the child’s complete case file. Then I meet with the foster parents and find out how the child was doing in the foster home. Then I meet with the child. The child thinks they are at fault. They worry about what is going to happen to them. They can’t understand why their mom can’t take care of them. They ask “Why does my daddy treat me like he does”?

Next, I meet with the parents. I tell the parents, “I’m here to help your child; I hope we can cooperate with each other." I tell them, “The goal is for you to parent your child. I want to see you be successful but my job is to focus on your child’s needs. I’m going to do what I think is right and I’m going to write a report to the court with my recommendations."

In my case the mother was not able to safely parent her child. She had alcohol and mental health issues. There also were allegations that the young boy was being abused by his father. They didn’t have enough information about that and were getting ready to send him back to his father. I talked to the boy’s foster mother and she said “you know they’re letting him visit on the weekends with his daddy. And after every visit, when he comes back to our house, he can’t sleep.” So I spoke to his counselor and told him that I was concerned about the visits. The young boy was asked, “When you go home to be with your daddy, why can’t you sleep when you go back to your foster home?” And he told us what had been happening. A lot happened after that, but today that child is doing well. He’s happy and he’s safe, and now he is going to be adopted.

As a CASA volunteer you show the child there is someone that cares about what happens to them - that there are good people in this world, that maybe they are not getting what they need at home but that somebody knows they are special. They grow up knowing that they are good people. By showing them something different, by making sure they are cared for, we can put these children on the right track.

Auction Napa Valley - Journey of the Weird Guy

How does Auction Napa Valley affect the local community? Judd Finkelstein of Judd's Hill Winery is out to educate everyone in Napa about Auction Napa Valley giving - no matter what it takes!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Auction Napa Valley 2011 - Coming soon!

There are still three and four day packages available for Auction Napa Valley 2011, June 2-5! Learn more here.