Appetizers
February 26, 2008
Trickle-Down Economics

The Sacramento region's slumping housing scene is affecting at least one dealer in high-end wine. Roseville wine merchant Marcus Graziano, customarily a big buyer at the Premiere Napa Valley barrel auction each winter, spent just $80,000 on unusual wines during this year's sale last weekend.

"Our business is still growing, surprisingly, but a lot of my clients are in home building," said Graziano in explaining why he cut back his bidding this year. A year ago he spent about $250,000 at the sale and the year before he invested $174,000. "I've been looking at the economy, and when you see those prices (for which auction wines sell) you go at it with a little different perspective," said Graziano, who owns Capitol Cellars Diamond Creek.

The four lots he bought are largely from "under-the-radar" wineries whose reputation for extraordinary cabernet sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends will rise as they become better known, Graziano is confident. The lots he bought - five cases each - were from Roy Estate, Alpha Omega, Bressler and O'Shaughnessy. The wines won't be bottled and released for another year or two.

Sales at Saturday's auction totaled a record $2.2 million, up slightly from last year's total, but there were 200 lots this year compared with 192 a year ago. Gary Fisch of Gary's Wine and Marketplace with two stores in New Jersey was the day's top bidder, paying a total $429,000 for 30 lots. The top-selling lot was five cases of 2006 cabernet sauvignon by Shafer Vineyards in the Stag's Leap district; Susan Owens of Ultimate Distributors in Atlanta paid $62,000 for the lot.

Each lot is a one-of-a-kind wine available only at the auction.

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