Fred Schrader had plenty to celebrate on Saturday night.
His wife, Carol, hosted an elaborate sit-down dinner at Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood for his 60th birthday, where lots of great wines flowed freely.
Earlier in the day the Schraders sold $511,000 of Cabernet from their cellar in a historic offering through Zachys' fall Los Angeles auction. This sale of 195 lots included every wine Schrader has made and featured many rare large-format bottles, up to 9 liters in volume.
You could easily make the case that Schrader is the hottest Napa Valley Cabernet producer these days, with a string of amazing wines from the past few vintages.
Why the sale? (And two more, one in New York and another in Hong Kong?)
"First of all, people have asked ad nauseum about special bottles. We had more wine in our library than we realized, so we saw this as accommodating those who wanted it in the fairest way," Fred Schrader told me. "We tried to do the fair thing."
The sale prices were high, often two to three times their release price, but not off the charts, averaging about $275 a bottle, Schrader said
For example, while most 750ml wines were sold in 12-bottle case lots, a bottle of 2003 Beckstoffer To Kalon sold for $150, compared to $75 on release. A 2004 bottle of the same wine brought $260, up from $95. A 2006 Beckstoffer To Kalon went for $420, compared to a release price of $125. And the 2007 Beckstoffer To Kalon, due for release next year, sold for $420 a bottle. Schrader said the retail or mailing-list bottle price for the 2007s will remain $150, as will the price for the 2008 wines.
The sale established what the wines are worth on the open market, Schrader said. "We wanted to know what's the reality price? Very little [of our wine] comes up for auction and this gives us more of a global reach."
He said bidders from England, Germany, South America and the Pacific Rim were among the online buyers. Bidders paid an 18 percent buyer's premium to Zachys. Two more, smaller auctions are slated for this year.
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