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Digital innovation achieves record breaking $18.7 million at Auction Napa Valley

Published:  13 June, 2014

The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) non-profit trade association kicked off its 34th annual Auction Napa Valley on the 6th of June, but for the first time permitted bidding for the Barrel Auction via a mobile app.

US$18.7 miliion was rasied at Napa Valley Vintners' Auction Napa Valley held on June 6, boosted by bidding permitted with the use of a mobile app. Napa Valley Vintners' Auction Napa ValleyFor the first time Napa Valley Vintners' Auction Napa Valley allowed for bidding to take place via a mobile app, helping to raise a record breaking US$18.7 million.

"The American Wine Classic" Napa Valley Barrel Tasting and Auction at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California, welcomed an estimated 2,800 guests, 500 community volunteers and 500 member wineries over two days.

"We've had the E-Auction since 2005, but this is the first year we've incorporated the Barrel Auction and created a mobile app," explained Cate Conniff, Communications Manager for the NVV.

Whilst tasting and bidding at the Barrel Auction took place inside Charles Krug's recently renovated Redwood Cellar, the outdoor Marketplace featured 100 vintners pouring their current release wines and more than 40 local restaurants offering samples of their signature dishes.

"Most events tend to be lacking in certain areas, but not here. With this event everything is top notch, even the food," said David Grega, Assistant Winemaker at TOR Kenward Family Wines. "They go all out to create something really impressive."

The Barrel Auction featured 100 ten-case lots; each case sold to one successful bidder. The bidding was open from 11am to 4pm and as well as through the new mobile bidding app, allowing guests to bid and follow the action from their mobile devices from anywhere at the event.

There was general satisfaction among bidders and vintners alike toward the innovative addition to bidding protocol. The convenience of using a mobile device versus navigating through the crowd to place bids encouraged participation even among low-engagement guests. "With the new technology there is a lot more participation and things are moving a lot faster," said Kristi Meltroni, senior winemaker at Clos Du Val Winery.  "It's a big room so you would have to go out of your way to wind around to the bidding table; now you definitely notice more engagement."

Saintsbury Winemaker Chris Kajani added that bidders were also able to track the bids more accurately. "The app makes it easier for people to make sure their bids are up, as sometimes there is a delay on the boards," she said.

The vintners saw particular benefit from the app in that guests could place bids directly while tasting at a specific auction lot. Assistant Winemaker at Hall Wines Meghan Gunderson said: "People can bid right in front of the lot instead of getting distracted by another barrel on their way to the bidding table." In addition to the Barrel Auction, this year's bidders could also use the mobile app to access the E-Auction, which since its establishment in 2005 was only available on the NVV website. The E-Auction featured more than 175 lots up for bid, open to event attendees and wine lovers around the globe from June 1 to June 8 at 12pm, signalling the official close of the Auction Napa Valley 2014.

The NVV association reported a record-breaking year for its Auction Napa Valley fundraiser, raising $18.7 million for healthcare and children's education non-profits. Whilst Napa Valley Barrel Auction set a new record raising $1.7 million, the Live Auction Celebration held at Meadowood Napa Valley on June 7 generated more than $12.65 million from 50 lots of Napa Valley wines, trips and hospitality. The E-Auction raised $490,900 and Fund-A-Need brought an additional $3.8 million to the fundraising total.