THIRD ANNUAL PREMIERE NAPA VALLEY SHOWCASES UNIQUE LOTS; ATTRACTS KEY U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE
2/22/1999 - Premiere Napa Valley, a midwinter barrel auction for the trade, featured 108 lots of the region's most hard-to-find wines - many exclusive to the auction and not commercially available - to more than 500 members of the trade and their guests on Sunday, February 21, 1999. In total about 875 participated in the event Sunday, including vintners, volunteers and media from throughout the U.S. and the world. More than 100 of Napa Valley's top wineries offered lots for the auction sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners.
Excitement surrounding the third annual event, which focused on wines from Napa Valley's outstanding 1997 vintage, was punctuated by the flurry of competition that erupted as auctioneer Ursula Hermacinski opened bidding on the very first lot. The gavel came down at $3,800 per case for the Chairman's Lot, purchased by Masaki Inoue of Japan's Nakagawa Planning Company. The lot, a partnership blend presented by 1999 Premiere Chair and NVV President Tom Shelton and 1998 Premiere Chair Doug Shafer, featured a one-of-a-kind blend of 1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia and 1997 Shafer Vineyards Hillside Select.
"This was my third Premiere Auction and today I wanted to purchase really high quality, wonderfully flavored wines - I have and it feels great," Inoue said of his successful bid.
Competing for the 108 lots this year were some 220 paddle holders representing 32 states stretching from Hawaii to New York and four countries reaching across the globe from Japan to Sweden. A total of 675 cases of wine was sold to 57 winning bidders who paid an average case price of $934. Gross sales totaled $630,500 for the day.
"The uniqueness of the lots, the fact that these wines are not available elsewhere, is what drives this auction," Shelton said. "The enthusiasm among the trade here today was extraordinary - their show of support is a testament to the reputation Napa Valley has earned as one of the world's leading winegrowing regions."
In today's global wine market, he added, it was especially exciting to see the number of international members of the trade both attending and bidding at this year's event.
Another successful bidder from Japan, Masamichi Yamaguchi of the IKKO Corporation in Schizuoka summarized the upbeat mood of the day with his comments following his purchase of the Dalla Valle 1997 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. "I felt welcome here today, the vintners were very friendly. I will share the joy of this wine with friends."
Others spoke to the innovation and artistry of Napa Valley wines. "We found wines here today that we've never heard of - the 1997 vintage Napa Valley wines are showing really well with subdued tannins and amazing fruit," said J. P. Richard of Cache Road Liquor Company in Oklahoma City.
While Bill Lucius of Broadway Bottle in Jackson, Wyoming said, "We represent a broad-based population with an expanding palate. We're here today to find something special for our customers who are increasingly curious about Napa Valley wines."
The auction was preceded by a barrel tasting of the auction lots and a hearty seasonal lunch prepared by the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, location of the day-long event here in St. Helena.
The NVV is a non-profit, 154-member trade organization established in 1944. Wineries of all sizes work together to further the world-class reputation of Napa Valley wines. Proceeds from the Premiere Napa Valley trade auction will be used to support this goal.