Napa Valley’s “other” annual auction, the Premiere Napa Valley barrel auction, raised more than $2.16 million at its 11th running Saturday, February 24. That’s a 16% increase from the record-setting 2006 auction that collected $1.81 million.
Unlike Auction Napa Valley, the annual charity fundraiser also conducted by Napa Valley Vintners, this event is solely for the trade, and almost 1000 wine buyers from restaurants, stores and distributors attended to bid on the 192 lots.
Alan Arora of Gray Cliff Hotel and Restaurant of the Bahamas celebrates a winning bid. Photo copyright 2007 Jason Tinacci
Vintner-members of the organization donate 5, 10 or 20-case lots (roughly one-quarter, half or full barrel) of wine futures, which are delivered when the wine is ready. Proceeds support the Vintners’ marketing and legal efforts to protect the Napa Valley name.
Most of the wines were big reds from 2005, and won’t reach their bidders for a few years. Predominantly members of the Cabernet family, they are unique blends and wines not normally sold by the wineries and are in great demand by restaurateurs and retailers for their choice customers.
The highest bid was $50,000 for a five-case lot of Rombauer Vineyards 2005 Stice Lane Block D Cabernet Sauvignon. The winning bidder was V.J. Jazirvar of the Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City, who also bought the top lot in 2006, a Rombauer offering that went for $85,000.
The top bidder was once again Gary Fisch, owner of Gary’s Wine and Marketplace with three wine stores in northern New Jersey. He bought 21 lots totaling 145 cases, paying a total of $331,000, up from 115 cases at $220,500 last year.
In all, 71 winning bidders spent an average $1,781 per cases.
A satisfied bidder leaves with an armload of bottles received as “thank yous” for the auction lots his group purchased. Photo copyright 2007 Jason Tinacci
The winning bids were almost exclusively for well-proven names, not newcomers like those that got many of the big bids at the height of the dot-com boom. One exception was newcomer Hourglass, which shared the second place honors for $42,000 with Lewis Cellars.
Other high bids include $40,000 for both Shafer Vineyards and Joseph Phelps Vineyards, $38,000 for Cliff Lede Vineyards and Robert Foley Vineyards and Switchback Ridge, $36,000 for Viader Vineyards (a rare 20-case lot), $35,000 for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, $30,000 for Revana Family Vineyards made by Heidi Peterson Barrett and also for Beringer Vineyards, $28,000 for D.R. Stephens Estate and Jones Family Vineyards, and $26,000 for Duckhorn Vineyards, Hartwell Vineyards, Saintsbury and also for Pride Mountain Vineyards, another wine made by Bob Foley.