I just returned from the Premiere Napa Valley Wine Auction and the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. A new star has emerged from the Auction - Scarecrow - by winemaker Celia Welch. A Japanese importer paid $125,000 for a 5 cases, or $2083 per bottle. Two years ago that same lot went for $80,000.
The Auction took place at the Culinary Institute of America, Napa Valley, where the crowd of 1,000 consisted of vintners, retailers, restaurateurs, distributors, brokers and media from across the country and around the world. The PNV Wine Auction began in 1997 as a "bake sale" by the Napa Vintners Association to preserve and protect the Napa Valley appellation and has evolved into a week-long event. The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers featured attendance from 85 of the most well-know editorial wine writers including Susan Kostrewza (Wine Enthusiast), Richard Bradley (Worth Magazine), Karen MacNeil (The Wine Bible), Lettie Teague (The Wall Street Journal).
Do we have a new wine star? A new Screaming Eagle? The buyer of the Scarecrow lot, Ichizo Nakagawa, owner of Tokyo-based Nakagawa Wine Company, receive a standing ovation from a record crowd. He said he was determined to buy the lot "no matter what",
"I'm amazed, I'm shocked," said Scarecrow owner Bret Lopez stepping outside to catch his breath. "We never dreamed we'd reach this stature and (winemaker) Celia Welsh is a genius, a humble genius who coaxes the sublime flavors from the old men," referring to the 66-year-old-vines that produce just a 1/2 ton per acre.
Here are some of the other statistics from Premiere Napa Valley courtesy of the Napa Vintners Association:
Premiere Napa Valley 2011 – By the Numbers
- Nearly $2.4 million in sales
- 23% y/y increase
- Topped record year 2008 ($2.2 million) by 5%
- Successful bidders: 68
- Cases purchased: 1530
- Average price per case: $1546 ($128/bottle)
- Rounding out the other top ten highest earning lots of the day: Schrader Cellars, Ovid, Levy and McClellan, Shafer Vineyards, Robert Mondavi Winery, Reynolds Family Winery, Duckhorn Vineyards, Silver Oak Cellars and Beringer Vineyards.