Best in Glass
Do serious wine collectors attend Auction Napa Valley, or are most people there just for fun?
I’d say 5 to 10 percent are serious wine aficionados, 30 to 40 percent enjoy the fine food and wine, and the other half simply are there to partake in the festivities and donate to charity.
How can first-timers prepare before the auction?
The auction itself is fairly easy to navigate. Attendees get the live auction catalogue ahead of time, but you can also go online and get a sense of a winery or an auction lot’s prestige, how unique or rare it is. From a winemaker’s perspective, a third-party review in Wine Spectator, for example, can greatly increase a wine’s value.
At Auction Napa Valley, there’s also the barrel auction marketplace, where you can taste wines right out of the barrel before you bid. That’s a real rarity for a wine auction.
Is wine a smart investment?
If you buy the right wine, it will appreciate with age. Some people collect art or cars but the beautiful thing with wine is that you can always decide to drink your investment and share it with friends and colleagues.
Typically, bigger body red wines age longer, like Cabernet and Merlot. Many new-world wines are intended for immediate consumption. Americans usually buy wines they can drink right away, but they have great potential.
So let’s say I do my homework, bid and win big. How can I protect my investment?
Potential value depends on where a wine is stored. If you pay $20 for a bottle, the basement should be fine. Someone spending hundreds of dollars will have their own wine storage unit, or cellar, or keep it off-site at a special wine-storage facility.
A wine auctioneer will point out unique characteristics in an older bottle like aging and patina. And, as with art, you have a better chance of making a good investment if you know the artist and their reputation.
KR Rombauer is the national sales director for Rombauer Vineyards.
Auction Napa Valley takes place June 2 to 5, 2011. More than 250 auction lots will be up for bids, including rare bottles, one-of-a-kind vacation packages and try-before-you-buy lots at the Barrel Auction & Marketplace (June 3). Proceeds from the event support non-profit programs for health, youth and affordable housing. To date, Auction Napa Valley has given $97 million to charity.