Napa Valley Vintners’ Barrel Tasting and Auction Raises More Than $4.1 Million

The barrel room abuzz at Premiere Napa Valley 2018 / Photo by Alexander Rubin for Napa Valley Vintners
The barrel room abuzz at Premiere Napa Valley 2018 / Photo by Alexander Rubin for Napa Valley Vintners

If the 2016 vintage of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon on display at this year’s Premiere Napa Valley trade auction is indicative of the year’s overall quality, wine drinkers are in for a selection of beautifully balanced, elegant wines.

Held at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, the annual auction drew hundreds of members of the wine trade to Napa Valley to sample barrel lots of exclusive wines.

The total raised was down from last year’s $4.2 million, which was down from the previous year’s $5 million and 2015’s record-breaking haul of $6 million, which signaled the excitement over the stunning 2013 vintage. The funds are used to support the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) group which promotes and protects the region.

Wines for the Premiere trade auction are made exclusively for the event and sold to single bidders as futures in lots that are as small as 60 bottles (five cases) and as large as 240 (20 cases). Merchants, restaurateurs, distributors and importers make up most of the attendees.

A Region Rebounding

For many of the buyers, this was their first time back to the area following October’s wine country wildfires. “This week was a testament to how much our trade partners value their connections to Napa Valley, our vintners and their wines,” said Linda Reiff, president and CEO of the NVV. “We are deeply grateful for their positive spirit and outpouring of support, from last fall through today.”

Some 230 lots were offered, most Cabernet Sauvignon-based.

While top bids included familiar names such as Duckhorn Vineyards (go, Merlot!), Alpha Omega, Robert Mondavi Winery, Shafer, Staglin and Silver Oak, newcomer Quilt Wines also did well. It was the third-vintage Cabernet Sauvignon release from Joe Wagner of the Caymus family and Meomi.

Among the barrels were such gems as Schramsberg Vineyards’ 1977 Late-Disgorged Sparkling Reserve, a one-of-a-kind bottling that rested on the lees for 20 years.

Meanwhile, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc-specialist Spottswoode Estate poured a 2016 Petite Syrah, a soft, supple standout made from vines bordering its property in St. Helena.

Other lots of note included Farella Vineyard’s Terrace Reserve from Coombsville and Favia Erickson Winegrowers’ 2016 Cabernet Franc from a high-elevation site in Oakville.

The 2016 Mountain & Bench Cabernet Sauvignon from Accendo Cellars, the newest project from the Araujo family, also stood out as structured and classic, as did the Cask Block Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon from Inglenook, named for the first block planted on the property in 1879 by Gustave Niebaum.

Published on February 26, 2018
Topics: California
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:

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