Premiere Napa Valley—the annual barrel tasting and auction held Saturday, February 20—drew crowds to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California, to sample barrel lots of one-time-only wines, most of which were 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon.
A total of $5 million was raised at the event—the third-highest amount in its 20-year history. In 2015, the auction brought in $6 million total and $5.9 million in 2014.
Premiere wines are made exclusively for the event and sold to single bidders in lots that number as little as 60 bottles (5 cases) to 240 (20 cases). Merchants, restaurateurs, distributors and importers made up most of the 1,000 attendees.
A total of 226 barrel lots showcased the wines, most of them Cabernet-based, with smaller smatterings of other options, from a Lang & Reed Chenin Blanc to a 1990 J. Schram Late Disgorged sparkling wine from Schramsberg.
Paddles were raised most for Cabernet Sauvignon. Among the top lots was one from newcomer Memento Mori, which brought in $130,000 for five cases of 2014 Inebriarie In Vitae Cabernet from the Dr. Crane, and another from Las Piedras Vineyards made by Sam Kaplan, who also makes the Arkenstone Vineyards wines.
Other big draws of 2014 wines included lots from Italics Winegrowers ($130,000), Nine Suns ($75,000), Realm Cellars ($75,000), Rombauer Vineyards ($75,000), Shafer Vineyards ($70,000), Tor Kenward Family Wines ($70,000), Duckhorn Vineyards ($60,000) and Silver Oak Winery ($60,000), followed by a multi-vintage Cabernet from ZD Wines ($60,000).