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Napa wineries report off-the-charts demand for $500-plus tastings

An unprecedented rise in luxury wine-tasting experiences points towards a wine tourism boom among the super wealthy.

Napa vintners say demand for luxury wine-tasting experiences has never been higher, with their loftiest offerings priced at $500 or more selling out in record speed. It’s a sharp U-turn from recent fears that Napa was sliding into a tourism downturn due to the double-pronged effect of Covid-19 and the 2020 Californian wildfires.

A conscious desire for social distancing may be one factor behind the soaring demand for more private, exclusive experiences, as well as people hankering after once-in-a-lifetime adventures following lockdown, reports the San Francisco Chronicle, which spoke to vintners about the surprising trend.

“June is typically not a big month for wine hospitality here,” said Tim Martin, owner of Immortal Estate, which has just begun offering a $550 four-pour tasting called the 100 Point Experience. “But requests are off the charts. I’ve not seen traffic like this for years.”

Angela Duerr, owner of luxury wine concierge service A Cultured Vine, agreed that interest in high-end Napa experiences is the highest she’s seen, and cites eyewatering price tags of around $13,000 per couple as being far from unusual right now. Racking up the bill are airfares, rental houses, private chef dinners and around $2,000 splashed out on wine at each winery visited.

Other extravagant wine-tasting experiences being snapped up include Tor Wines’ premium Black Magic Experience, where for $950 per person, visitors can tour marquee-name vineyards, whose fruit goes into the estate’s Black Magic Cabernet; Theorem Vineyard’s Baccarat Experience, which provides a custom-engraved crystal wine glass by the French company for a staggering $750 per person; and Aileron Estates’ biplane flight tastings where for $550, clients enjoy 20 minutes in a vintage, open-cockpit aircraft before heading back to ground for hosted wine tastings.

Quite how long the luxury boom will last is anyone’s guess but for now the high rollers are betting big on Napa.

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