SAINT HELENA, Calif. — All week long, smiles abounded, and spirits were high as wine trade members arrived in Napa Valley for the 26th annual Premiere Napa Valley wine auction. Saturday’s live auction, conducted by Sotheby’s, capped off a week of forging relationships and doing business all the while exploring Napa Valley’s excellence in winemaking.
“We were thankful to be able to connect with so many of our long-time partners in the wine business this week. It was a true homecoming event. We were humbled by the support shown and the incredible passion for our wines and our region,” said Linda Reiff, President and CEO of Napa Valley Vintners.
Interest in the unique wines that are Premiere Napa Valley was evidenced by the fervor of bidding in the room and online from Europe and Asia. Buyers competed for 109 lots in this year’s Premiere Napa Valley wine auction as Sotheby’s auctioneers, Jamie Ritchie and Quig Bruning, playfully cajoled bidders.
Wines sold at the 2022 Premiere Napa Valley wine auction will make their way to 14 states and six countries.
“It was a pleasure to be in Napa Valley with the vintners and the global wine trade to taste the innovative wines that make Premiere Napa Valley so special. The camaraderie and support for the Napa Valley wine region was illustrated by the enthusiasm of bidders both in the room and online. Building the reach of Napa Valley is one of our key goals, so we were pleased to see that close to 30% of the buyers placed their bids online,” said Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Wine.
This year’s Premiere Napa Valley wine auction included wines from the 2019, 2020 and 2021 vintages. Debuting at this year’s auction was the much talked about 2020 vintage.
Vintners making a 2020 Premiere Napa Valley red wine were pleased on Saturday as the average price per bottle was $234 proving that demand exists for high quality, excellent wines made in the most difficult of vintages.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised. There have been a lot of big question marks about what kind of quality was going to be coming out given the challenges of the vintage, but they’ve been bright, vibrant, really great quality. I’m excited to have them hit the market,” said Wendy Heilmann, Director of Wine and Spirits, Pebble Beach Resorts.
Napa Valley is known for its collaborative spirit. Some of the highest selling average bottle prices were those of joint lots by Favia and Hourglass, Buena Vista and Charles Krug and Reynolds Family Winery and Canard coming in at an average of $325 a bottle.
Also impressive was the zeal for white wines in this year’s auction with an average price of $108 per bottle. In addition, winemakers displayed the variety of grapes grown in Napa Valley with lots focused on Malbec, Syrah, Nebbiolo, Riesling and Albariño in the auction.
“It’s really great to see how Napa is doing so many different things and doing them all very well,” said Molly Brooks, Wine Buyer & Director of Events at Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas San Diego, CA.
The highest caliber of safety was followed as all guests were required to be vaccinated and were COVID tested prior to admittance each day. Ritchie closed the auction by inviting vintners to join him on stage and thanking the bidders for a fun afternoon.
Both this year’s Premiere Napa Valley chair, Josh Widaman, Estate Winemaker at Pine Ridge Vineyards and next year’s chair, Priyanka French, Winemaker at Signorello Estate, joined fellow vintners in cheering on bidders vying for the last lot.
Sotheby’s first endeavors to bring more of the wines from Napa Valley to audiences around the globe brought in an impressive $2.7 million including wines sold in the Library Wine Auction, Premiere Napa Valley and the Perspective Wine Auction. All proceeds from Premiere Napa Valley directly fund programs to promote, protect and enhance Napa Valley.
–Napa Valley Vintners