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Naples Wine Auction hit by economic woes

In another sign the global economic downturn is affecting the wine world, the Naples Winter Wine Festival, held this weekend, raised $5m – just over one third of last year’s total.

The auction, which raises money for local childrens’ charities, has been held annually since 2001. It rose in popularity to become the top-earner among charity wine auctions in the US.

The auction was founded, and continues to be supported, by wealthy residents of Naples, Florida. Last year, the auction raised US$14m.

One of the attendees, Tim Mondavi, who arrived with his stepmother Magrit, admitted financial challenges had affected the wine industry.

‘Everyone is going to be more careful about how they spend their money – wine producers and consumers both,’ said Mondavi, of Napa Valley’s Continuum winery.

Winemakers attending included Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Sir Peter Michael of his eponymous Sonoma winery, Bill Harlan of Harlan Estate and Ann Colgin of Colgin Cellars, who served as an auctioneer.

Top wine lots included US$150,000 bid for five magnums from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, including 1999, 2000 and 2001 La Tache; a double magnum vertical of Screaming Eagle with a private vintner dinner for US $110,000, and US $60,000 bid for 28 magnums donated and signed by all 28 of the participating winemakers.

The wine festival and auction has raised more than US$74.5m since 2001.

Written by Janice Fuhrman

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