Late night TV talk show host Jay Leno will repeat his stint as emcee/entertainer for the 28th annual Auction Napa Valley this weekend.
Leno proved both star attraction and bid catalyst at the silver anniversary event in 2005, where funds raised for valley health care, youth endeavors and housing efforts topped the $10 million mark for the first time.
He’ll be back to kick off the main event on Saturday — a live auction and dinner held under a festively decorated giant white tent on the fairway at St. Helena’s Meadowood Resort.
The popular NBC talk show host was a favorite with auction-goers three years ago, providing the added cachet sponsoring Napa Valley Vintners had hoped for. Neither of the two emcees following Leno — Ryan Seacrest in 2006 and Dana Carvey in 2007 — created the kind of buzz that Leno did.
Chairing this year’s Auction Napa Valley is the Heitz family, which has owned and operated Heitz Wine Cellars in St. Helena since 1961.
The auction weekend kicked off last night with a valley-wide block party. Those attending the auction received invitations from participating vintners to drop by wineries and homes for an evening of wine and food.
Taste Napa Valley will be held today at Trinchero Family Estates, providing an opportunity for members of the local community and live auction paddleholders to check out the 42 “ultra” lots slated to go on the block Friday evening, to attend the popular barrel tasting and auction, and to sample food and wine at the Marketplace.
At the barrel auction, 120 vintners will preview futures of aging wine, pulling samples directly from the barrels for attendees to taste. Nearby is the E-Auction, where those in attendance can bid against online bidders from around the world for rare bottles, special verticals and wine collections.
At The Marketplace, dozens of area restaurateurs and artisan food purveyors will team up with close to 100 vintners for a special afternoon of food and wine pairing.
Then in the evening, auction-goers will have an opportunity to tuck into lavish dinners hosted by participating vintners, either at their homes or in winery cellars around the valley.