Premiere Napa Valley Rings Up Record Sales

$3.1 million in wine futures sold at February trade auction

by Paul Franson
premiere napa valley mark pope
Mark Pope of Napa's Bounty Hunter was the day's top bidder. Photo by Jason Tinacci / Napa Valley Vintners
Napa, Calif.—Auctioneer Fritz Hatton set the stage for Saturday’s Premiere Napa Valley trade auction by declaring, “The stock market is near record highs, and stocks of Napa Valley wine are running low.” 

The comment seemed to inspire the crowd: Hatton and Ursula Hermacinski collected $3.09 million in bids from the audience of 1,000 retailers, restaurateurs and other members of the trade. The total represented a 31% increase over last year’s $2.36 million, which was slightly above the previous record set in 2008.

“The way our customers reacted, it strikes me that it was just that: a market response. The result of this auction is a true measure of the market. Clearly, even in a still-challenged economy, the retailers and restaurateurs have voted. The buyers for these wines would not have put forth this kind of investment if they didn’t feel—with real security—that they could sell these wines,” said Pine Ridge Vineyards CEO and 2012 auction chair Erle Martin.

premiere napa valley
“Premiere is usually an early indicator,” noted Jack Bittner, president of Clif Lede Vineyards. “The enthusiasm today portends well for future business.”

In the ever-interesting cost-per-case race, which is complicated because lots of five, 10 or 20 cases were sold, the average was $2,069, 34% higher than last year’s $1,546 per case. All the future releases were donated by wineries spanning the length of Napa Valley.

The top bid was for Dana Estates: $70,000 for five cases, $14,000 per case. That’s $1,167 per bottle and about $240 per glass.

Other high bids came in for Kapcsandy Family Winery, Ovid Napa Valley, Checkerboard Vineyards, Vine Hill Ranch, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Amuse Bouche Winery, Duckhorn Vineyards, Silver Oak Cellars, Levy & McClellan and Shafer Vineyards.

The event, which sold out six weeks in advance, included 1,000 attendees representing 88 retail outlets, 84 restaurants, 86 distributors and importers and 100 members of the media.

premiere napa valley
Premiere Napa Valley was founded in 1997 by the Napa Valley Vintners as a way for the association to raise funds and further its mission to promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley appellation. 

This year’s offerings included 145 Cabernet Sauvignons, 28 red wine blends, eight Cabernet Francs, six Pinot Noirs, five Merlots, three Malbecs and one lot each of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Meunier and sparkling wine.

Top bidders came from across the continent and around the world: Bounty Hunter, Napa, Calif.; The Wine House, West Los Angeles, Calif.; Nakagawa Trading Co., Tokyo, Japan; Total Wine and More, Potomac, Md.; Petroleum Club, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Beverage Warehouse, Marina del Rey, Calif.; Gary’s Wine and Marketplace, Madison, N.J.; Imbibe Wine and Spirits, Bakersfield, Calif.; Meritage Wine Market, Encinitas, Calif.

For more information visit Napa Valley Vintners.

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