2017 Premiere Napa Valley Auction Raises $4.2 million

Low in yield but big in reward, 2015 Cabernet fueled a bidding frenzy at the Premiere Napa Valley auction this year, cementing the vintage's reputation.
Attendees place their bids at the 2017 Premiere Napa Valley Auction / Photo courtesy Napa Valley Vintners

Exploring the 2015 vintage of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, this year’s Premiere Napa Valley continued the theme of great vintage, great wines and big money being raised.

Held at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, the event attracts hundreds of members of the wine trade to sample barrel lots of wines, most of them Cabernet Sauvignon and the majority this year (87%) hailing from the 2015 vintage.

While the 2015 vintage is widely being trumpeted as fantastic in quality, its yields were lower than the 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages, causing the overall amount spent by bidders, landing at $4.2 million. This is down from last year’s $5 million as well as the previous year’s record-breaking pull of $6 million.

Premiere Napa Valley Barrel Auction Raises $5 Million Total

Premiere wines are made exclusively for the event and sold to bidders as futures, in lots that number as little as 60 bottles (5 cases) to as many as 240 (20 cases). Merchants, restaurateurs, distributors and importers make up most of the attendees.

A total of 216 barrel lots showcased the Cabernet-heavy selections this year.

The top lot of the day beat the top lot from last year: $200,000 was spent for five cases of 2014 Scarecrow Toto’s Opium Dream Scene 4 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, made by Celia Welch, a 100%-varietal wine from the J.J. Cohn Estate made from vines planted in 1945 on St. George rootstock. It bested the previous year’s high of $130,000 for a single-lot sale.

Another big draw was the five-case lot of 2015 Alpha Omega Dr. To Kalon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a 50-50 blend of Beckstoffer Dr. Crane and Beckstoffer To Kalon grapes. It quickly sold for $100,000, igniting a bidding war that energized the room, and beating the winery’s previous record of $55,000.

“In 2015, tannins were definitely part of the equation,” said Alpha Omega Winemaker Jean Hoefliger. “You were able to get the silkiness of Dr. Crane and the structure from To Kalon.”

Wine purveyors from 32 states and six countries now have these one-of-a-kind wines. Collectors can read descriptions of the wines and learn where to find them at premierenapavalley.com.

The next Premiere Napa Valley is set for Saturday, February 24, 2018.

Published on February 28, 2017
About the Author
Virginie Boone
Contributing Editor

Reviews wines from California.

Contributing Editor Virginie Boone has been with Wine Enthusiast since 2010, and reviews the wines of Napa and Sonoma. Boone began her writing career with Lonely Planet travel guides, which eventually led to California-focused wine coverage. She contributes to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and Sonoma Magazine, and is a regular panelist and speaker on wine topics in California and beyond. Email: vboone@wineenthusiast.net



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