The organizers of Sonoma Paradiso believe they made a smart decision to sit out auction season this year considering the Naples Winter Wine Festival’s plunge. The Florida auction, which has become the world’smost successful wine fundraiser, raised roughly $5 million in January, down from $14 million in 2008. Quite a steep descent.
Hard times for bidders? You bet. But the show will go on for Auction Napa Valley set for June 6, although organizers say they’re scaling back. No pricey headliner a la Jay Leno. And organizers are already lowering expectations, a pre-emptive public relations move. They say they fully expect economics to temper bidding.Translation? Don’t expect to see champagne-induced, runaway bids spiraling out of control under the white tent at Meadowood in St. Helena. The heyday of Silicon Valley’s unlimited cash infusion is over. At least for the time being.
What does all this mean for Auction Napa Valley’s fundraising? A plunge? Possibly. Or are high rollers recession-proof? It’s hard to predict. Any fortune tellers in the house?
Sonoma Paradiso, for the uninitiated, is sponsored by vintners Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke of Kendall-Jackson and Fred Furth and former wife Peggy Furth of Chalk Hill. Last year the auction raised $921,000, down from $2 million in 2007.
With auction season in the offing, what do you think? Is Sonoma Paradiso wise sit this one out? What do you think is in store for the Auction Napa Valley? Are bidders recession-proof?