Wine lovers dueling online and in renowned Napa Valley shrugged off the dismal global economy, bidding millions of dollars for vintages at a charity auction.
More than 5.7 million dollars in bids were logged by the time the final gavel fell at the recent 29th annual Auction Napa Valley, organizers revealed this week.
"The outpouring of generosity from our bidders, vintners and community is heartwarming, said Janet Trefethen, whose Napa wine making family headed the event.
An "E-Auction" that opened online in May culminated with bidders from locations around the world competing with rivals gathered at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa.
Three six-liter bottles of Arietta Winery went for 13,500 dollars, the top bid in the online auction. Included in the lot is a guarantee that the winery's piano-player owner, Fritz Hatton, will show up at the winning bidder's home with sheet music and a case of wine for a celebratory soiree.
Bidders from as far away as China virtually joined in auction action, according to organizers that referred to the E-Auction as "Napa in your pajamas" because people could take part from their homes.
The fund-raising event finished off with a gala dinner and live auction featuring acrobats, dancers, live music, and "vintner antics" at a resort in Napa Valley.
A three-way bidding war for a lot of Antica Napa Valley-Antinori Family Estate Wine ended with the vintner tripling the offering to appease all parties and bring in more than a million dollars in total for the charity event.
Top bids included nearly 1.1 million dollars for 120 barrels of "wine futures" from To-Kalon Cellars and 45,000 dollars for 10 cases of wine from Shafer Vineyards, according to event organizers.
Unofficial master of ceremonies Kevin Zraly, author of "Windows on the World Wine Course," crowned the auction "a perfect event."
"The vintners accomplished what they set out to do -- raise a lot of money for charity," Zraly said.
Since it was started in 1981 by the Napa Valley Vintners association, the annual auction has reportedly channeled 85 million dollars to youth programs, health care, and affordable housing in the region.