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Napa auction nets more than $3m

Napa Valley’s Premiere Auction has netted a record amount, with a 31% increase on last year’s total.

The fast-paced bidding brought in a million dollars an hour at the Napa Valley Premiere Auction event held on Saturday, 25 February, at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California.

Over the course of three hours, trade members from across the US and several countries including the UK, bid on 200 different lots of unique Napa Valley wines made specifically for this event.

The annual fundraiser for the Napa Valley Vintners, the non-profit trade association promoting and protecting Napa Valley, brought in a total of US$3.1m dollars this year, surpassing the $3m dollar mark for the first time.

This figure surpasses last year’s by 31% and is considered a great indicator of a healthy market for Napa Valley wines.

“The buyers for these wines would not have put forth this kind of investment if they didn’t feel – with real security – that they could sell these wines,” said Pine Ridge Vineyards’ CEO and the Premiere Napa Valley 2012 chair, Erle Martin.

The Saturday 9:00am barrel tasting event, preceding the auction, started comfortably enough, with room between winery barrels to stop and taste easily. By eleven o’clock, the historic barrel room at the CIA was packed with more than 1,000 attendees.

Trade guests came from a total of 88 retail shops, 84 restaurants, 86 importers and distributors and 100 from media outlets. They purchase these one-of-a-kind wines and bring them back to their customers as rare and special offerings.

The event also provides an opportunity for trade to greet the winery owners and winemakers, who all attended this special event.

The 200 different lots were sold in either five, 10, or 20-case offerings. They will be bottled at various dates, upon further aging. Purchasing the 200 lots were 64 successful bidders, buying a total of 1,495 cases of wine. That makes the average purchase price for a case of wine at $2,069, according to the Napa Vintners.

While the majority of the wines offered are Cabernet Sauvignons (145 different lots), there were also: 28 red wine blends, 8 Cabernet Francs, 6 Pinot Noirs, 5 Merlots, 3 Malbecs, and one Chardonnay, one Sauvignon Blanc, one Pinot Meunier and a 1996 late disgorged sparkling wine.

The top bidder was Mark Pope, of Bounty Hunter, a Napa retail outlet and bar which has one of the finest private wine clubs available to wine lovers and collectors. Other top bidders include: The Wine House, West Los Angeles, CA; Nakagawa Trading Co, Tokyo, Japan; Total Wine and More, Potomac, MD; Petroleum Club, Oklahoma City, OK; Beverage Warehouse, Marina del Rey, CA; Gary’s Wine and Marketplace, Madison, NJ; Imbibe Wine and Spirits, Bakersfield, CA; Meritage Wine Market, Encinitas, CA.

While last year there was a frenzy surrounding one or two select producers, this year showed lively bidding for dozens of lots.

The top earning wine lots for 2012 were: Dana Estates ($70,000 for 5 cases, Kapcsandy Family Winery ($60,000 for 10 cases), Ovid Napa Valley ($55,000 for 5 cases),  and other top figures for Checkerboard Vineyards, Vine Hill Ranch,  Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Amuse Bouche Winery, Duckhorn Vineyards, Silver Oak Cellars, Levy and McClellan and Shafer Vineyards.

We expect a good year for Napa Valley wines, if the Premiere auction results are a true indicator of things to come.

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