The water level has been THE story of the last several months, but with the end of February, Premiere Napa Valley takes center stage.  This two part picture displays the difference an hour can make, taken just as the doors open and again, at mid-morning this last Saturday, in the barrel room of the CIA in St. Helena.  Members of the Napa Valley Vintner’s Association present wine that is still in barrel, auctioning off “one and only” wine lots that give wine merchants an opportunity to possess something unique.  Originally, this auction raised money to build the association’s offices.  Over twenty years later, the funds we raise are now used to cover the costs of bringing wine writers to Napa for a week long symposium, or hosting a group of young somms from all over the US, who have never seen or tasted the wealth of diversity Napa wines offer.  Additionally, member vintners can now travel as a NVV group to various market hubs, including VinExpo in Bordeaux, presenting our wine to audiences that can’t make it to Napa.  It has expanded our market and our influence very successfully, and in the process, has given the merchants that cater to collectors some very sweet catnip – after all, what serious collector doesn’t want to own an exclusive wine no one else can ever have?