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Premiere Napa Valley auction earns US$22m

The Napa Valley Vintners’ (NVV) annual barrel auction, Premiere Napa Valley (PNV), brought record earnings of more than US$22m in the event held earlier this year. Still, winemakers and trade representatives felt that many lots sold for less than they might have in the past.

Over 600 members of the wine trade and press from the United States, Canada and Japan attended the event, which featured 200 lots of one-of-a-kind wines offered in five, 10 or 20-case lots. Revenues from the auction benefit NVV’s efforts to promote and protect Napa Valley Appellation.

The bidding was diverse, with 67 bidders placing successful bids, a 4% increase over 2007, 27% were first-time successful bidders, including two of the top 10.

The top 24 lots in 2008 earned more than the top 24 lots in 2007. The top-selling lot for the day was US$62,000 for five cases of Shafer Vineyards Sunspot Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. The second-highest-earning lot was US$55,000 for 10 cases for Joseph Phelps Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Both lots beat the 2007 high of US$50,000 for a Rombauer Vineyards lot.

There was a sense in the room that some lots were being sold from less than they might have in the past even though many lots earned more that last year. One high-profile restaurant’s buyer told American Wine Business Monthly that he was able to obtain the same lot as he had in 2007 at half the coast as last year. Still, overall earnings were up from last year.

PNV 2008 was chaired by the Duncan family, owners of Silver Oak Cellars and Twomey Cellars. PNV 2009 will take place on Saturday 21 February in Napa Valley and will be chaired by Bryan Del Bondio, president of Markham Vineyards.

American Wine Business Monthly May 2008

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