West Coast auctions hotting up

West Coast auctions hotting up News Wine News
  • Friday 5 September 2003

America's newest wine-auction house is expanding into California.

Chicago-based Edward Roberts International plans its first-ever brick-and-mortar auction in San Francisco on 11 October and another next spring.

'It's a vibrant market out there,' Edward Robert Brooks, managing director of the two-year-old auction house, said.

'Our goal has always been to expand where and when we felt the timing was right,' he added. 'The New York market is saturated, but there is still great opportunity in California.'

The house, Brooks said, already has 'a good base of clients in California,' and the logistics fit. WineCommune.com, an auction and retail organisation in Berkeley, lists his auctions on its website and handles online bidding for him.

Brooks estimated the 11 October catalogue's value at $250,000 to $300,000. He said he had decided to compete in California before Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco began revitalizing its wine department. This British-owned house plans a 13 September auction, to be simulcast in Los Angeles.

Brooks is also going up against the aggressive Acker Merrall & Condit, the Manhattan house. It plans a 22 November auction in Los Angeles and perhaps two there in the spring, said John Kapon, its president and auction director. By the end of this year Acker will have held seven auctions in San Francisco and Los Angeles since 2001.

Christie's will hold sales in Los Angeles on 12 and 13 September, and again on 1 November, with the second part of a Château Latour sale that began in London in May.

In addition, Christie's and its partner, New York Wines, will sell, 'for the very first time outside Australia, a complete vertical of Penfolds Grange from 1951 to 1998,' including, it said, the 'superb early vintages of 1953, 1955 and 1963' on 24 October.

The Granges have been sourced from collections in Australia, Europe and the United States. Penfolds' new chief winemaker, Peter Gago, who is now responsible for Grange, is to be present.

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