Napa Valley Vintners, the region's nonprofit promotional organization, will make its Far East debut later this year with the first Premiere Napa Valley Hong Kong auction, in partnership with Christie’s. The Nov. 3 sale will feature 25 lots of five cases each created exclusively for the event, from Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) member wineries like Dalla Valle, Hall and Shafer.
The Premiere Napa Valley auction proper is held at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Calif., each February, where mostly small-production, single-vineyard Napa Cabernets are up for bid. The flagship auction, which raised $5 million this year, will continue, with a sister event now in Hong Kong.
Simon Tam, head of wine for Christie’s Asia division, has high hopes for the event, pointing out that each bottle sold will be hand-labeled, numbered and signed by the winemaker. “Our clients hold top provenance with esteemed regard,” said Tam. “The wines on offer at this auction are all ex-cellar direct, the finest provenance possible.”
Wine educator Debra Meiburg conducted a pre-auction tasting at the Dynasty Club in Hong Kong on Monday, and a Premiere Napa Valley Hong Kong promotional tour will pass through the Shanghai and Beijing markets in September.
Winemakers are already feeling the positive effects of the increased brand awareness abroad. “At our small winery, we’ve never really stepped out to look for distribution," said Andy Erickson of Favia. "Now … we’re selling our wine in Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.” The winemaker, who will be the chair of the 2017 Premiere auction in St. Helena, is confident that demand for Napa wines in China is on the rise. “Now that we can come and present 25 wines from Napa Valley, I think this will show serious wine people that we can do something special.”
The Hong Kong auction announcement comes just weeks before the 36th annual Auction Napa Valley, also presented by NVV, which begins June 2. Last year's auction raised $15.8 million, and excitement is building for this year's event thanks in part to the participation of Argentinean chef Francis Mallmann from Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence–winning restaurant Siete Fuegos. Mallmann will bring a new highlight to the auction next month: The chef will be preparing his signature open-fire cuisine from an 1,800-square-foot pit dug into the Meadowood Napa Valley golf course.
While this is the first time NVV will have an event-based presence in China, it has an experienced partner in Christie’s. Beginning this Friday, May 27, the auction house celebrates its 30-year presence in China with a wide-ranging sale of art, fine jewels, wine and more. The rare wines auction will be held Saturday, May 28. In 2015, Christie’s brought in $19.3 million from Hong Kong sales.
“We are very pleased to bring the delicious West to the thirsty East,” said Tam. “There are many great gems in Napa and our clients are eager to discover them.”