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Premiere Napa Valley breaks $3m barrier

The annual Premiere Napa Valley charity wine auction raised a record total of US$3.1m, breaking through the US$3m barrier for the first time.

Bidding for Lot No 1, Pine Ridge Vineyards

In total, 64 successful bidders bought 200 lots, containing a total of 1,495 cases of wine. The total taken was 31% up on last year.

Lots sold at an average case price of just over US$2,000, 34% up on 2011 and another record.

The lots were dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends, with wines from Ovid Napa Valley, Joseph Phelps and Duckhorn Vineyards among the top-earning items.

About 1,000 people attended the event, organised by Napa Valley Vintners, including representatives of 88 retailers, 84 restaurants, 86 distributors and importers, and 100 media.

Proceeds from the auction, first held in 1997, are used to fund initiatives and programmes to promote the wines of Napa Valley, including educational programmes and environmental projects.

Although it is a charity auction with lots attracting correspondingly high bids, Premiere Napa Valley, like Burgundy’s Hospices de Beaune and other major charity events, is considered to be a barometer of the health of the market.

‘The result of this auction is a true measure of the market,’ said Premiere Napa Valley 2012 chair and Pine Ridge Vineyards CEO Erle Martin.

‘The buyers for these wines would not have put forth this kind of investment if they didn’t feel – with real security – that they could sell these wines.’

The top three lots were five cases of Dana Estate for US$70,000, purchased by The Wine House in Los Angeles; Kapcsandy Family Winery, five cases for US$60,000, and five cases of Ovid Napa Valley for US$55,000, both purchased by the Nakagawa Trading Co in Tokyo.

Held on Saturday at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St Helena, the auction coincided with the 8th annual Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley.

Written by Richard Woodard

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