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150 Napa wineries launch two-day online sale

With wineries closed during the coronavirus pandemic, over 150 Napa Valley estates are opening their cellars today for a two-day online sale that includes wines that are normally only available at the cellar door.

Consumers can peruse the wines each winery has up for sale on the website, then during sales hours link directly to the individual wineries to complete the purchase. The site goes live at 10am PDT on Tuesday 14 April and the sale continues until 11:59pm on Wednesday 15 April.

Organised by Napa Valley Vintners, Open the Cellar will offer over 250 wines ranging in price from $25 to $600. The sale features wines from 20 vintages and an array of grape varieties.

One of the oldest wines on sale is Frog’s Leap 1991 Zinfandel made by John Williams. Photo credit: Cellar Tracker

“During this time of shelter in place, Open the Cellar is uniting our winemaking community to offer unique wines for sale and enjoyment at home,” said Teresa Wall, Napa Valley Vintners’ senior director of marketing communications. “Each sale supports the employees and family businesses of Napa Valley.”

The oldest wines in the sale are a Frog’s Leap 1991 Zinfandel and a 1996 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, both made by legendary Napa Valley winemaker John Williams

“Thankfully, older wines have gained some favor in the last 10 years, largely driven by millennials, who seem to crave history and authenticity in their wine buying,” said Tom Farella, who will be offering the Farella 2015 Malbec and its 2015 Syrah in the sale.

“I think story narrative has really become precious, and that really works for me.”

Napa Valley tasting rooms shut on 16 March, the day after California governor Gavin Newsom called for voluntary closure of most of the state’s public-facing businesses.

Although a necessary health measure, the closures cut off the primary source of revenue for winegrowers who welcome over 3.8 million visitors annually to the region.

Of the valley’s 475 wineries, 90% are family owned, 78% make fewer than 10,000 cases annually, and 68% make fewer than 5,000 cases.

“Most people don’t realise that most wineries exist based on passion and thin margins – at least in my sector,” Farella told db. “Most of us are always in a state of balance between paying bills and receiving money owed.”

Chris Howell, winemaker at Cain Five, called the Open the Cellar initiative a “brilliant response” to the shock we’ve all felt in the onset of the pandemic. “As we’re sheltering at home, each of us in our domestic bubble, what could be more important than the simple things we love?”

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