The Buzz

Premiere Preview: A first look at the Premiere Napa 2020 Wine Auction

Stories Patty Malesh

When it comes to wine, anyone who is anyone will be at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone on February 22 for Premiere Napa Valley’s Live Auction. If ever there were an elite community of extreme wine aficionados whose precise palates and pocketbooks were poised to possess the rarest vintner creations, this would be its Winter Olympics (or maybe, more accurately, its X-Games). And while this is an “invite-only” event for trade purveyors and private collectors, regular folk can pop over to Napaland to soak up the wine vibes from February 19 to 22, when Napa will be, if this is even possible, more of a wine wonderland than usual. 

The Majesty of Micro-Production 

Wine-making and collecting is often compared to art, and Premiere Napa is no exception. Approximately 190 Napa wines are up for auction, each one a unique selection crafted by Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) member winemakers for “just one moment in time, never to be replicated.” Lots are limited to 60 to 240 limited edition hand-numbered bottles that are then initialed by each winemaker. 

Because wine-makers are unencumbered by the commercial viability of these micro-lots, collectors can expect to bid on wines that represent deep dives into hyper-specific sourcing and production methods. A wine whose essence is umami and forest floor heavy might, for instance, source only from an atypical varietal hidden away in the mountains. Another might play with an unpopular type of barrel toasting meant to bring out the coconut notes of a fruit-forward Malbec from the Spring Mountain district. All of these one-of-a-kind wines are meant to showcase not only the wines and production practices each vineyard thinks of as its unique best but also the creative minds of their winemakers. 

Premiere Napa at the Nucleus 

With so many all-star wine collectors and purveyors in town to scoop up treasured rare wines, you can bet Napa will be fronting its vintner A-game this weekend. Even though you may not be among the bidders on auction day, a trip to Napa is a good idea while Premiere Napa is happening. During that time, you are guaranteed the best that Napa has to offer, whether you head that way for some winery day drinking or evening fine dining in Yountville. Reservations and conversations with strangers strongly suggested. 

Subscript: All wines created for Premiere Napa are produced by NVV members and the auction is a fundraiser for NVV. Created in 1944, this nonprofit trade organization celebrates its 76th anniversary in 2020. With approximately 550 members, the organization is dedicated to protecting, promoting, and advocating for Napa as a globally recognized wine region. 

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