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Wine Country Chic, Napa Valley Style

What does "wine country casual" mean?
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When the invitation says "wine country casual," what does that mean? That's what attendees of this year's Auction Napa Valley, on the first weekend of June, had to think about when deciding what to wear. The four day long event includes dinners at wineries, a food and wine festival with a barrel auction, and the live wine auction.

Thursday night dinners at wineries are perhaps the most casual of the events, a low key way to ease into the weekend. At St. Supéry Vineyards, Kara Butler wore a Tilly's denim jacket, Express white dress and Ariat boots. "These are the same cowboy boots that I where when I go through the vines so I thought what's better than that?"

Pam Prahm chose an Anthropoligie top, thinking about dining in the vineyard. "Just something casual and fun."

At Friday's barrel auction, held at Raymond Vineyards, stripes and long dresses trended for women.

Lots of hats too, a necessity under the hot Napa Valley sun.

Vintner host Jean-Charles Boisset, who you could certainly call Napa Valley's first man of style, was exhilarated, showing off his winery and grounds, fully biodynamic, organic and now completely solar.

"Wine country casual is a a combination of Napa chic and being relaxed," he says. "Napa Valley has a great style from the people to the architecture, so Napa Valley chic is a combination of the countryside with a little bit of city feel and a natural elegance." Jean-Charles is head-to-toe Napa chic, wearing a Dolce & Gabbana jacket, his own label JCB custom shirt and red socks and Dior shoes. The Salvadore Dali lips are a playful colorful accent. He certainly knows how to bring on the glam, yet keeps it understated, and well, chic.

Trending for men at the auction, colorful Robert Graham shirts, as worn here by Johnny Carros, along with his True Religions.

Auction chairs Shari and Shannon Staglin were colorful, Shari in a purple TSE top and Armani trousers, Shannon in an ALC top and BCBG shorts. Both were decked out in Bulgari jewels, "a bit more bejeweled than I normally am," says Shannon, but that's because Bulgari participated in a live auction lot with the Napa Valley Vintners, offering a trip to Rome and a custom-designed piece of jewelry. Shannon says for her, wine country style is "casual elegance and low key."

The ladies were also sporting pedicures with a nail polish, designed by OPI for the auction called, naturally, Napa Valley Cabernet. It has a little sparkle to it. Shannon says "I was kind of floored no other nail polish company has done that before," and hopes we'll see Pinot or Chardonnay. All proceeds of the sale of OPI Napa Valley Cabernet go to charity.

Small bags, especially cross body or messenger bags were also trending, better to keep hands free for wine tasting.

For many Napa Valley fashionistas, a local boutique, Reeds, in St. Helena, is their destination for finding the perfect auction outfits. Margrit Mondavi, the original WineFashionista (IMHO) credits Reeds for her Crea Concept ensemble. "Today it's just casual," she says. "Wine country style is to be comfortable, with a sense of coordination and color, and that you feel good in it but don't try too hard." She is amazed by the women she sees walking around in sky-high heels. "I admire them but you can't be comfortable if you're going to an event like this in 10 inch heels."

Ann MacQuoid and Val Chin of Parallel Wines also turn to Reeds for "style that is absolutely classic country chic," says Ann. But today their attire is inspired by the parallel wines of their wine label, carrying on the striped meme of the day, Ann in Galiano pants and Val in a Vince top. "Women in Napa Valley really love comfort they love loose flowing kinds of clothes," says Ann. Val adds, "it's also more understated than overstated."

Totally fitting in with the chic and understated look are attendees Erin Martin, wearing an Isabel Marant dress and Henry Beguelin shoes, and Maria Franke donning head to toe Chanel. She didn't know about the auction lot offered by Colgin Cellars that includes a private tour of Coco Chanel's apartment in Paris.

On Saturday at the main event, the live auction at Meadowood Napa Valley, dresses were trending and it was surprising to see a number of white dresses too (I'm always leery of wearing white when red wine is around).

Otherwise color was everywhere, from a purple Catherine Malandrino, to a bright pink silk dress bought just that morning at Tay & Grace in Yountville to Far Niente Winery owner Beth Nickel in a Pucci-esque vintage long dress.

Wine country's dapper man of style, Judd's Hill vintner Judd Finkelstein, was sporting an "off the rack" seersucker suit, complete with a red paisley bow tie and pocket square. "Seersucker just seems to keep me cool," he explained.

Fashionista Carolyn Butler, owner of Footcandy in St. Helena, chose a rag and bone top, Etro print leggings, bright blue Manolo Blahniks and a Chanel bag.

A trio of stylish attendees had on a colorful array of outfits, from Trina Turk, Tory Burch and Caché.

Once again, Margrit Mondavi embodied Napa Valley chic, this time in a white and green striped Issey Miyake top.

Topping it all off, Elaine Mellis of Charles Krug Winery wears a vintage black dress and big floppy Mud Pie hat.

When the last gavel went down at the auction on Saturday evening, a record-breaking $16.9 million dollars was raised to benefit healthcare and youth education within Napa Valley, the most raised in the auction's 33 year history.