My Weekend at the 2014 Premiere Napa Valley
2014 Premiere Napa Valley (PNV) just concluded with a record-breaking auction after a week of tastings, events and dinners. Being a member of the Steering Committee as well as the Stags Leaps District board I wanted to share my “insider’s” perspective on this wild and fun – yet important – annual event.
Premiere Napa Valley has been taking place for the last 18 years bringing together the top media, trade and restaurateurs to the Valley for one week full of NAPA! Wineries donate 5, 10, and 20 case lots of wine uniquely made for the culmination of the PNV: the auction. This serves as a barometer for how the vintage (in this years’ case the much anticipated 2012 vintage) will be received in the market and gives an opportunity for bidders to experience and potentially buy truly one-of-a-kind, ultra small production wines.
My PNV week started on Thursday afternoon where we poured our 2009 Allwin Syrah in a tasting that featured “unique wines of Napa Valley.” The lunch hosted at Trefethen was a part of a weeklong boot camp for twenty handpicked sommeliers from across the country. This group of ‘somms’ was picked from many applicants through the Guild of Sommeliers. I was a little nervous showcasing a personal favorite in front of the firing squad of professional tasters and critics but our Syrah showed beautifully and earned some great praise!
Friday of PNV Week is traditionally known for being able to share Premiere wines with the bidders in a more intimate setting. As in years past we participated in the annual Stags Leap District “House of Cab” tasting hosted by Pine Ridge in their caves. The barrel tasting features wines exclusively found in the Stags Leap District and once again showed that this pocket of the Valley (celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year as an American Viticultural Area) is producing the best wines in Napa.
Saturday I awoke with great energy and started blasting “Eye of the Tiger:” it’s Game Day! Out of 225 lots I have to stand out and share my excitement about our lot with hundreds of bidders, media professionals and other vintners to make Baldacci Family Vineyards memorable! Our winemaker Rolando created a 5 case lot that was one of the top tasting wines in the room. 9 o’clock sharp the gates opened at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in St. Helena and were soon filled with eager palettes and empty glasses. Myself, our general manager Debi Cali, and my father Thomas Baldacci took turns pouring and sharing our wines as well as tasting some of the other lots that were in the room. Personal highlights for me included trying Rolando’s wine from his winery Mi Sueno and a newer production called Saunter Wines from our very own vineyard manager Josh Clark and acclaimed winemaker Thomas Brown.
The barrel tasting portion lasted until 12:30 and we enjoyed lunch that had been prepared by the students at the CIA. The Greystone restaurant at the CIA is a hidden gem that can be overlooked amongst the amazing restaurants in this valley but I believe offers a unique experience to try foods be prepared by the next generation of great chefs.
At 1:00pm the first lot kicked off the auction and it was a race to the finish from there with 225 lots taking just over three hours to bid through. The bidding was fast and the generosity from the bidders was amazing. By the time the gavel struck on the last lot the auction had raised an astounding $5.9 million dollars… a new record for PNV!
Yet at the end of all the PNV events, this week serves a great and important purpose in the Napa Valley. All of the proceeds from the PNV Auction go into our collective vision as vintners to grow and showcase the reputation of the Napa Valley as the world’s premiere wine growing region. Amongst all of us Napa Valley vintners we enjoy a truly collaborative and cooperative environment aimed at making Napa Valley wines the best in the world, and every year we get to prove that.
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