On a perfect California evening in early June of 2005, around 1,000 wine lovers and wine makers gathered at the Meadowood Resort in Napa for the 25th Auction Napa Valley. It was the most successful event to date, raising $10.5 million for charity with the help of Jay Leno, who was on hand to warm up the crowd and make cracks during the live auction.
While Joy Craft, owner of a California investment firm, wasn’t the highest bidder of the evening, the loot she took home that night included the lot Wine Spectator called “the auction’s sentimental favorite”: 60 bottles produced in a one-off collaboration between the original Mondavi brothers.
This lot represented the latest work of the two men who played arguably the biggest role in making California wine the player on the international stage that it is today. But, more importantly, the barrel of wine brothers Robert, then 92, and Peter, 90, donated to the auction that year was also the first they had produced together in 40 years.