Originally published BY SONOMA MAGAZINE STAFF
On Saturday, Nov. 6, Don Steiner placed a bid of $1 million for a six-liter bottle of The Setting Wines 2019 Glass Slipper Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon at a charity auction in New Orleans. He walked home with the bottle (or maybe he rode home in a Rolls-Royce) and thus the highest bid for a single bottle of wine at an auction was entered into the record books.
While nothing was revealed about the highest bidder beyond his name, we do know that the bottle of cabernet was made by Jesse Katz, a Healdsburg winemaker. (Grapes for the wine were sourced from the Glass Slipper Vineyard, located in Napa’s Coombsville viticultural area.)
Katz, 36, founded The Setting Wines in 2014, with friends Jeff Cova and Noah McMahon. He also is the founder of Aperture Cellars and Devil Proof wine labels and recently built Aperture Estate, an avant-garde production facility and tasting room south of Healdsburg, with investment assistance from Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.
Katz also produces estate wines for Montage Healdsburg (he designed the hotel property’s vineyard). He previously made wine for such world-renowned wineries as Petrus in Bordeaux, Screaming Eagle in Napa Valley, Viña Cobos in Argentina and Lancaster Estate and its sister label, Roth, in Sonoma.
The auction in New Orleans benefitted celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse’s foundation and raised $3.75 million to support its mission to “enable youth to reach their full potential through culinary, nutrition, and arts education, with a focus on life skills development.”
“It is such an honor to have set the world record for most expensive single bottle of wine ever sold and raise $1 million for a cause that is so close to my heart,” said Katz in a written statement. “Knowing how many children’s lives will be changed for the better by this single bottle is a joyful reminder of why we founded The Setting Wines. I’m still pinching myself.”
If you’d like a taste of the good life, a 750 ml bottle of 2019 The Setting Glass Slipper Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is “only” $185. But it may be hard to get your hands on: Only 75 cases (900 bottles) were produced. And the one six-liter bottle already sold, of course — so, unless you know Don Steiner, you won’t be sipping that anytime soon.
Speaking of record-setting wines, a bottle of Bordeaux aged in space — a Château Pétrus 2000 — was offered for immediate sale via Christie’s in May. The wine, which spent 14 months on the International Space Station (ISS), was expected to fetch around $1 million.
After the Château Pétrus returned to Earth to be sold, the news made the rounds on CNN, The New York Times and NPR. But then the trail went cold: We weren’t able to find out if the bottle ever sold. And so, for now, Don Steiner remains the proud owner of the most expensive wine to be auctioned on this planet.