Premiere Napa Valley® Futures Auction Receives Positive Response To Vintage 2002 And 2003 Wines
Wholesalers and Retailers Invest Nearly $1 Million in Napa Valley Reds
2/23/2004 - St. Helena, CA - A prestigious gathering of national and international wine wholesalers, retailers and restaurateurs gathered Saturday, February 21st at the eighth annual Premiere Napa Valley® (PNV) to preview and purchase five-, ten- and 20-case lots of wine futures.
A total of 158 lots were sold, raising a total of $987,200 to help support the many important programs sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), official hosts of the auction.
Before the bidding began, a tasting of the barrel wines, primarily vintage 2002 and 2003 red varietals, offered more than 500 trade and news media an opportunity to taste wines created from special vineyard blocks, using innovative winemaking techniques - resulting in wines that are unavailable anywhere else in the world. The wines are scheduled for private release, to the successful bidders only, between Fall 2004 to Spring 2007.
Competing for the 158 lots this year were more than 270 paddle holders stretching from New York to Hawaii, and Canada to South Korea. A total of 1,065 cases of wine were sold to 60 winning bidders, and this year, an impressive 83 of 149 past successful bidders returned to purchase Premiere wines. The highest single bid of the day was $35,000 for a 20-case lot of Silver Oak Cellars 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon blend.
The Auction kicked off with the Chairman's Lot, courtesy of Premiere Napa Valley Chairman Joel Aiken, vice president of winemaking, Beaulieu Vineyard. Ultimately, the gavel came down at $13,000 for the Chair's Lot - 20 cases of Beaulieu Vineyard 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 6, with an estimated release date of January 2005.
"Premiere Napa Valley is such a great event for the Napa Valley Vintners," said Aiken. "It's an opportunity for us to spend time with old friends and to make new ones."
"Today's outcome is a great example of the trade's ongoing support for these specially crafted wines. The effort they make to market and establish the Premiere Napa Valley brand to customers and clients is unbelievable. Recognition for Premiere wines has never been so high," he added.
As was the case last year, the top bidder of the day was Gary Fisch, owner of Gary's Wine and Marketplace in Madison, New Jersey. Fisch spent $203,900 on 20 different lots, including the Shafer Vineyards and the Stag's Leap Wine Cellars lots, both five-case lots selling for $28,000 and $21,000 respectively.
Fisch has participated in Premiere Napa Valley for the past six years. Last year, he spent $115,500 on 10 different lots.
"We come to Premiere for the quality of the wines," said Fisch. "Last year, when we started tasting the 2002 samples we were really excited about the quality. Today, tasting them again, we found some really great wines. The vintners are doing a wonderful job creating interesting individual lots and in fact, the wines I purchased today are already sold - our customers trust whatever my paddle buys," he enthused.
One of the day's most surprising bidders was Dr. John York, owner of the San Francisco 49ers. York is a wine aficionado and participated in PNV as a representative of Butler Catering, Stadium Club, Candlestick Park - home of the NFL franchise. York purchased a ten-case lot of Bennett Lane Winery's 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon blend, and a five-case lot of Vinoce 2003 Merlot.
"I've always enjoyed good wine and by being in nearby San Francisco I have always supported Napa Valley vintners. I had never tasted either of the wines I purchased today, but they're fantastic," said York.
"I also came to support my friend from Youngstown, Ohio, Frank Husic," he added. Husic Vineyards is a new member of the NVV and a first-time participant in PNV. The Husic 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon five-case lot sold for an impressive $13,000.
Because Premiere Napa Valley is a barrel "futures" auction, the lots are primarily cabernet sauvignon and other red varietals. This year, special attention was given to Napa Valley soils in a morning seminar and tasting focused on merlot. Five pairings from different parts of the Napa Valley were tasted to demonstrate how soil types create distinctly different characteristics in a single varietal. Wine writer and educator, Karen MacNeil moderated the seminar. She was joined by Joel Aiken; Bob Steinhauer, president of the board of the NVV and senior vice president, vineyard operations, Beringer Vineyards; and, Tony Truchard, owner, Truchard Vineyards.
PNV is held each year at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone (CIA), in St. Helena - the heart of the Napa Valley. It is the only fundraising event designed specifically to support NVV programs. Of special note, $100,000 of the total proceeds generated by Premiere Napa Valley 2004 will be donated by the NVV to the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the CIA. Each year, for a total of five years and $500,000, the NVV will contribute $100,000 to the Center, further demonstrating the association's commitment to important community pursuits and partnerships. With this year's contribution, the NVV will have contributed $200,000 of the $500,000 pledged to the Center.
Top Lots at Premiere 2004
Silver Oak Cellars $35,000
Shafer Vineyards $28,000
Joseph Phelps Vineyards $26,000
Pride Mountain Vineyards $26,000
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars $21,000
Viader Vineyards & Winery $18,000
Vineyard 29 $17,000
Beringer Vineyards $14,500
Duckhorn Vineyards $14,000
Lewis Cellars $14,000
Staglin Family Vineyard $14,000
Beaulieu Vineyard $13,000
Darioush Vineyard $13,000
Husic Vineyards $13,000
Spottswoode Vineyard & Winery $13,000
Top Bidders at Premiere 2004
1. Gary Fisch, Gary's Wine & Marketplace, Madison, NJ
2. Mark Pope, Bounty Hunter, Napa, CA
3. J.P. Richard, Cache Road Liquor & Wines, Lawton, OK
4. Hi-Sang Lee, Nara Food Company, South Korea