California Wine Investment Highlighted at Premiere Napa Valley Auction

By: Tsveta van Son
Tsveta van Son
Tsveta van Son is part of Invezz’s journalist team. She has a BA degree in European Studies and a… read more.
on Feb 26, 2013

On 25 February 2013, Decanter magazine reported that this year’s Premiere Napa Valley auction, one of the most important events on California’s wine calendar, fetched a total of $3.04 million (£2 million) in winning bids, close to last year’s record of $3.1 million. The Napa Valley auction results point to healthy wine investment interest in Californian wines so far this year and add to other positive auction results during February to suggest a widespread recovery in the fine wine market.

**Premier Napa Valley Auction Brings In $3.04 Million**
Although it is mostly French wines that attract the attention of investors and collectors active in wine investment, the most recent Napa Valley sale demonstrated robust interest in the production of a selection of California wineries. Decanter magazine reported that this year’s Premiere Napa Valley auction generated total sales of $3.04 million, with the average wholesale bottle price at auction being $160.75. The auction results neared last year’s record of $3.1 million, which broke the $3 million barrier for the first time.

In a press release, Napa Valley Vintners, a non-profit trade association, said that more than 80 percent of the lots featured in the auction were from the 2011 vintage, described as having had an “unusual growing season”.
“Today was a great chance to get a glance into the quality of the 2011 vintage,” commented Daniel Williams of Hi-Time Cellars in Costa Mesa, as quoted in Napa Valley Vintners’ press release. “I think there were some tremendous wines presented and I think the vintners have done a great job of putting their best foot forward in a vintage some might call ‘challenging’.”

Decanter reported that among the top performers at the Napa Valley auction was a Shafer Vineyards’ five-case lot from its Sunspot vineyard which sold for $50,000. Saintsbury’s Brown Ranch in Carneros fetched $36,000, whereas Rombauer Vineyards’ Atlas Peak was knocked down for $40,000.
**Sotheby’s Ex-Cellar Lots Sold Out**
Moving to the US East Coast and higher investment-grade wines, Sotheby’s (NYSE:BID) New York auction saw several ex-lots sell out completely, adding fuel to the growth in wine investment interest this year. The Sotheby’s press release advised that amongst the most notable performers at the auction were rare wines offered direct from the cellars of Ornellaia, Dom Perignon and Yquem, which helped bring the auction total to $1,463,201 (£968,170).

“Today’s offerings of Ornellaia, Dom Perignon, and Yquem were all 100 percent sold, again demonstrating the extraordinary appetite among collectors for wines with this perfect provenance,” noted Jamie Ritchie, president of Sotheby’s Wine for the Americas & Asia. In addition, several wines surpassed their high estimates, with The Drinks Business magazine reporting that a case of Peturs 2000 had sold for $42,875, comfortably over its upper estimate of $35,000. A case of 2011 Yquem yet to be bottled sold for $24,500, nearly two and a half times beyond its top estimate of $10,000.

!m[February Sales At Sotheby’s, Christie’s Point To Improving Fine Wine Demand](/uploads/story/1513/thumbs/pic1_inline.png)
**Bordeaux Demand at Christie’s**
On the other side of the Atlantic, Christie’s International London auction on February 21 also pointed to an improving wine investment sentiment. Bloomberg reported that Christie’s found buyers for 97 percent of the auction lots, signalling strengthening demand for investment-grade Bordeaux. The auction raised £960,569 with fees, with the total surpassing last year’s sale by 10.1 percent. Among the top performers at Christie’s was a 12-bottle case of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1982, which sold for £34,500, comfortably above its upper estimate of £30,000.

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