Martin Wine Auctions Launches in San Francisco: Its Debut Event Features the Stellar Collection of an American Billionaire

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Martin Wine Auctions' inaugural Summer Sale, simulcast in San Francisco on June 16 and Hong Kong on June 17, features over 600 lots of fine and rare wines, estimated to bring over $3 million.

Greg Martin, founder of Martin Wine Auctions

It's been an exciting year for us so far," said Greg Martin of Greg Martin Auctions. "First, we reassumed management of the antique firearms auction house we founded in 2002. Now we're launching Martin Wine Auctions under the Martin Auction Group banner.

Martin Auction Group, LP, is pleased to announce the launch of Martin Wine Auctions, specializing in fine and rare wines from around the world. The first live auction, featuring the stellar collection of an American billionaire, will be simulcast from San Francisco on June 16 and from Hong Kong on June 17. The inaugural event also features over 250 lots from a Southern gentleman physician. In total, over 600 lots of extraordinary wines will go up for bid, with a sale estimated to bring over $3 million.

Martin Auction Group, LP, is the new corporate banner for Martin Wine Auctions and its sister company, Greg Martin Auctions, a leading auction house for antique arms, armor and historic memorabilia since 2002. Recently in the news, Greg Martin Auctions returned in early 2011 to private ownership and management by its initial founders, Greg Martin, John Gallo and Bernard Osher. This noted management team, which for decades led Butterfield & Butterfield (now Bonhams & Butterfields), is directing both companies under the Martin Auction Group banner. Based in San Francisco, Martin Auction Group has over 125 years of combined auction-industry experience and has marketed over $1 billion of property for clients.

Although the idea of these two auction houses – antique firearms and premier wines – in the same family might seem disparate at first, there are several important linkages that connect them. First, the target markets, although different, share a passion for collecting the finest in their fields of interest. Both groups are likely to be affluent, sophisticated and in pursuit of top quality. Second, this management team has a long history of success in these two auction areas. At Butterfield & Butterfield, they virtually formed the wine auction industry in the early 1980s, sponsoring the laws that introduced wine auctions to California. This evolved into decades of wine auctions featuring some of the finest vintages available. So too was the company’s prescient involvement with auctions of antique firearms, which began with one sale in 1986 and grew to become by the early 1990s the largest and most prestigious Arms & Armor department in the world.

The third connection is Greg Martin himself, who from a young age had a curiosity and enthusiasm for both antique guns and wines. Regarding the latter, Mr. Martin grew up on what was then a prune and a walnut orchard near San Jose, California, and is now Silicon Valley. Combining youthful curiosity with some grapes growing on the property, young Greg created his first batch of wine – a personal chemistry project that was undrinkable, he says. But persevering over the next few years, reading and experimenting, he learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t – like aspects of temperature, grape skins, leaves, yeast, sediment, vinegar and mold. After three or four years of trial and error, he succeeded in concocting his first drinkable batch.

Over the years, this interest in viticultural alchemy never left him. First, he became a wine collector, vacationing in Bordeaux to taste and buy. Then in 1996 he and his wife Petra purchased 12 acres in Napa Valley, growing grapes for Caymus until they finished their own winery and launched Martin Estate in 2000. Today they produce over 1500 cases of three red wines with different styles and flavor profiles; these are sold through Martin Estate’s wine club, in noted Bay Area restaurants, and most recently, in China.

With this as background, the move from auctions of antique firearms to wine doesn’t seem unusual, but rather a logical next step. And with Greg Martin Auctions’ founders reclaiming the company and returning it to its original roots, values and vision, the team agreed it was a great time to move in new directions as well. And thus, Martin Wine Auctions was born.

Building on its Napa Valley connections, Martin Wine Auctions specializes in fine and rare wines. The company’s goal is to pair passionate global wine enthusiasts, both buyers and sellers, with exceptional offerings from around the world. Martin Wine Auctions combines unique opportunities to acquire the world’s greatest wines in a dynamic auction format with personalized customer service. Every bottle offered is thoroughly inspected, so buyers can bid with confidence.

In addition to the management team at the helm, Mario Sculatti serves as Martin Wine Auctions’ president. Mr. Sculatti’s family has been involved in wine and grape growing for several generations in Napa Valley, where his grandfather’s cabernet sauvignon vineyard was located. He is now creating his own wine label. Mr. Sculatti has nearly 10 years’ experience in the wine industry, including Asia.

Martin Wine Auction’s first sale will be held at its San Francisco gallery on Thursday, June 16 at 6:00 pm PDT, located at 701 Bryant Street. The live event will be simulcast in Hong Kong on Friday, June 17 at 9 am HKT, at the Island Shangri-La Hotel. Over 600 lots will be offered at this exceptional auction, including the stellar collection of an American billionaire. In addition, property from a prominent Southern gentleman and doctor will be featured at the sale.

The Summer Sale highlights include:

  • Offerings from the world’s greatest châteaux, including 6 Liter imperials of Château Latour, Château Margaux, and Château Lafite Rothschild
  • Full wood case of 1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti
  • A seldom seem 1949 Château Lafite Rothschild, in desirable 2.5 Liter “Pot Gascogne” format
  • A single bottle of 1891 Château Lafite Rothschild, originally dating to the historic Heublein auctions
  • Coveted 2000 Château Mouton Rothschild – 12-bottle lot and 6 Liter imperial
  • 2000 Château Petrus in several lots, with full case quantities
  • Extremely rare bottle of 1937 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti
  • 1989 La Mission Haut-Brion, in a 12-bottle lot
  • Scarce and desirable bottles of 1937 Domaine des Lambrays Clos de Lambrays
  • Rarely seen single bottle of 1929 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle
  • 1982 Château Cheval Blanc, in a full case lot
  • 2005 Château Angelus, with 9 full, original wood cases

Martin Wine Auctions’ comprehensive approach includes state-of-the-art technology at live auctions; telephone, absentee and online bidding; illustrated print catalogs; and online catalogs available one month prior to auction. Sales schedules and collector information are available online. Now accepting consignments for future auctions, the company also offers complimentary appraisals.

For more information, contact Martin Wine Auctions by telephone at +1-415-543-9463; fax +1-415-777-4807; by email at; or online at


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