Harlan Wines, Aston Martin Lead $16.9 Million Napa Sale

An Aston Martin DB9 Volante, a 20-year vertical of wines from Harlan Estates, and a tour of Coco Chanel’s apartment helped the 2013 Auction Napa Valley charity event raise a record $16.9 million.

Gary Rieschel, founder of Shanghai-based Qiming Venture Partners, paid $800,000 on Saturday, the top single bid during the sale at Meadowood Napa Valley, California -- causing the crowd in the tent to go wild, waving orange pompoms and tossing confetti.

Rieschel and his wife Yucca won Lot 20, Harlan Estate’s “The Works,” an eight-person package including the first-ever vertical tasting of 20 vintages (1990-2009) of Harlan’s pricey cabernet blends (the 2010 sells for $750 a bottle), a stay at Meadowood resort in St. Helena, and dinner at its Michelin three-star restaurant.

The event raised twice as much as last year’s $8 million, more than the previous high of $10.5 million in pre-recession 2005, according to Napa Valley Vintners, the event organizer.

There were plenty of opportunities to spend at the various parts of the sale, from Friday’s 100-lot barrel auction and 170-lot e-auction at Raymond Winery to the 46-lot live auction on Saturday at Meadowood as well as a $1000-a-ticket raffle for an orange 2014 Audi R8 Spyder.

Aston Martin

Other flashy cars paired with wines in various live-auction lots. One bidder paid $280,000 for a lot that included a 2006 Aston Martin DB9 Volante, double magnums of cabernet from Bure Family, Morlet Family and Vineyard 7 & 8, plus wine tastings and dinners.

When two bidders brought the price of Dana Estates winery’s lot, “Discover the Soul of South Korea,” to $510,000, Dana’s South Korean owner Lee Hi-Sang announced he’d provide a duplicate lot to the second bidder, boosting the sale to $1.02 million. It includes a seven-day customized trip to South Korea, and a collectible set of double magnums of the winery’s three expensive cabernets.

All auction proceeds will help fund three dozen resource and service organizations in the valley, including the St. Helena hospital, Children’s Health Initiative, and Calistoga Affordable Housing.

Coco Chanel

Aria Mehrabi, co-founder of Pacific Star Capital, a Los Angeles real-estate investment fund, who is also owner of Mithra winery, splashed out $300,000 for double magnums of two virtually unobtainable Colgin wines, tickets to haute couture shows in Paris and a private tour of Coco Chanel’s apartment.

“My wife loves Chanel,” he said, “and I love Colgin’s wines.”

Other top bids included $500,000 for 2010 Screaming Eagle in a Balthazar (12-liter) format, the first-ever produced by the estate, $450,000 for 40 bottles of rare Joseph Phelps Vineyards wines plus a trip to Italy, and $400,000 for the Staglin winery’s lot, an epic golf holiday in Scotland, which included custom golf clubs and four double magnums of Staglin’s smooth, rich cabernet, vintages 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Like many others bidding big at the auction, Gary Rieschel has formed an emotional bond with certain vintners.

“Bidding is a way of honoring the people who put out the wines that have given me so much enjoyment,” he said outside the auction tent.

(Elin McCoy writes on wine and spirits for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Scott Reyburn on the art market, Martin Gayford on European art shows, Elin McCoy on wine and Jeremy Gerard on U.S. theater.