The SOMM Journal

February / March 2017

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Page 49 of 116

{ } 49 More than 200 of Napa Valley's winemak- ers have crafted small, one-of-a-kind wines to be offered at this year's sold-out Premiere, ranging in size from a minimum of 60 to a maximum of 240 bottles. In the mix are special blends, unique varieties not normally crafted by the producer and bottlings from an array of barrel regimes or from grapes sourced from high-profile vineyard rows. None of the wines is available anywhere else, and the purchaser becomes the exclusive owner of these lots—a big plus when selling to your restaurant guests or retail customers. The Wine Side "What's so wonderful about Premiere Napa Valley is the week leading up to the auction," says vintner Doug Shafer, of Stags Leap District's Shafer Vineyards. "Having the trade up here and getting buyers to kick the dir t, walk the cellars and taste bar - rel samples with us is what makes this so wor thwhile for everyone." Shafer has been a par t of the celebration and auction since 1997. "We indulge the trade buyers with our open houses, break - fasts, lunches and dinners and often team up with other wineries. So this is not just a one-day event; it's five to seven days leading up to the auction: an intense time of meet- ing and greeting for industry professionals who may only get that one-time-a-year oppor tunity to be in Napa Valley and meet winemakers in person." The star of Shafer's auction lot is a six- acre block called "Sunspot" from his esteemed Hillside Select site. Shafer tells The Somm Journal, "The fruit is always tip-top, and we always pull out a separate barrel of this Cabernet Sauvignon to offer for the auction. Last year five cases went for $80,000—that's $1,600 a bottle. We're definitely on the high end for bidding." While Shafer attests that prices range across all levels, he adds, "It blows me away how adored these wines are, how respected the event is and that all proceeds go to the Napa Valley Vintners to promote and protect Napa Valley worldwide. The Valley's prominence is akin to a National Park: it's important to continue research to sustain and protect it as one of the most important wine-growing regions in the world." The star of Doug Shafer's auction lot is a six-acre block called "Sunspot" from his esteemed Hillside Select site. John Skupny, proprietor/ winemaker of Lang & Reed Wine Company, is offering the only Chenin Blanc to have appeared at Premiere Napa Valley in its 21-year history. The grapes are grown at an Oak Knoll District vineyard of less than one acre, and the wine is a collaboration between John and his son, Reed. PHOTO COURTESY OF DOUG SHAFER PHOTO: JASON TINACCI

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