At Auction

Cheers to Napa Valley

It's a good thing that the 26th Auction Napa Valley—the American wine world's premier benefit fundraising weekend (June 1–4)—coincides with my 28th wedding anniversary. DEPARTURES is an official Friend this year, and it's a good cause, with every cent ($10.5 million last year) going to Napa charities. But given the temptations, I could get into some deep financial trouble. Prestigious Napa vintners will dig deep into their cellars to donate rare vintages and formats no longer available. I'm sure I could resist the bottles dolled up in dubious artistic drag. (I'd never allow some of those amateurish designs on my table.) Instead, I'd go for the deals combining amazing wines with amazing access. The idea of having a bottle of the Bryant Family Vineyard's legendary Cabernet Sauvignon over dinner with Don Bryant or spending quality time with Francis Ford Coppola over rare bottles from his Rubicon estate might prompt me to do something disastrous. I've actually done both for articles I've written, so I know they'd be worth almost any amount of money to do again. The only problem: Auction Napa Valley has just expanded its online bidding component, so I may not be as safe at home as I imagined. Tickets, $400–$7,500