Cape Winemakers Guild

Bid, buy, enjoy!

All you need to know about bidding at the Nedbank CWG Auction

Online sales have become the lynchpin for the survival of the wine industry in Covid times, and for Auctions, it is no different. As a result, the Cape Winemakers Guild embraced this new industry-wide shift. Although many are new to online Auctions, including a generation that grew accustomed to the drama and buzz of ballroom-hosted Auctions, this new direction didn’t seem to have discouraged buyers. On the contrary, auction houses globally reported a surge in online activity, and by the looks of it, this format is here to stay.

In less than 72 hours, the sought-after Nedbank CWG Auction will go live and online on 2 October, hosted by the international auction house Bonhams, and offers a spectacle of some of the finest wines in South Africa. 

But why even buy wines on Auction? And can you feel confident and safe about doing this online?

There is something to be said about auction houses being around since the 18th century (Bonhams since 1793), surviving centuries of changing trends. And, if you are serious about collecting exceptional wines only available in small quantities, an auction of this stature far exceeds what you can typically expect on a retail level. The prices achieved are often not as inflated as one can expect from retail and restaurants either. Another plus of this online world is that you have access to the opinions of respected and experienced palates offering invaluable insights on the wines. 

The CWG wines were made exclusively for the 2021 Nedbank CWG Auction with the sole objective of offering wine enthusiasts wines of excellence traversing both regional and varietal expressions. Read the feedback shared by some of the world’s leading wine writers, including our own Wine Wizard – Michael Fridjhon, as well as the likes of Dr Jamie Goode and Lauren Buzzeo

Yet, it can be daunting if you are new to online auctions, so let us put you at ease. You might find that a live-streamed auction is not so far off from what you know and, in fact, way more convenient. According to Giles Peppiatt, one of the Bonhams auctioneers conducting the live and online Auction on 2 October, online auctions work the same way.

Here are the auctioneers’ five top tips for Auction Day

1.     Study the Auction Catalogue before the Auction
It is strongly encouraged to familiarise yourself with the Auction Catalogue, available online. It offers a comprehensive summary of both the Protégé Programme Auction and the annual Auction with detailed information about the wines, the members of the guild and the objectives of each Auction. The catalogue will have every lot listed for sale in the order in which it will sell. 

2.      Know what you want
Ask yourself what you want: Are you starting up your wine cellar or looking to diversify your current cellar? Are you buying wine to put away for a few years, or are you buying wines to be accessible now? Are you perhaps looking at wine as an investment, or are you after different vintages of CWG Auction wines to complete your collection? This will help you plan and strategize beforehand and make Auction Day more enjoyable.

3.     Register in advance
To register for the Auction, you need to create a bidding account with Bonhams and complete the online form. This can still be done 24 hours before Auction Day. In addition, you will need to provide them with a PDF copy of your proof of address and identification. Once this has been done, Bonhams will confirm your bidding account number. If you have created a bidding account with them in the past five years, you don’t need to repeat this process, log into your account, and update any details if necessary. You then just need to navigate to the auction you want to bid on, click on Register and you’re set to bid!

4.      Set a limit
Remember that all bids are binding. It is easy to get carried away with “spur of the moment purchases”. Set a limit beforehand and bear in mind that the purchase price excludes any VAT, duties, taxes, or delivery fees. All wines are sold in ZAR/Rands. No Buyers Premium or Commission is added to your Auction purchases.

4.     Online Auctions work the same as live auctions
There is no need to feel intimidated by an online auction; they work the same way as a spoken or live auction. The only difference is that you bid through your laptop or smartphone, and at the auction end, the highest bid wins. 

5.    Start small
If you are entirely new to Auctions, the CWG Protégé Programme Auction might be an excellent place to start. You don’t have to experience the urgency of making fast and calculated decisions, and you can buy smaller lots like a single bottle of wine. And it is for a charitable cause.

6.    Basic Auction jargon to know
The hammer price refers to the final price that the auctioneer voices as the hammer falls. The lot is the number of the item in the sequence of the auction. You are bidding per lot, not by case. A ‘lot’ could be a bottle, multiple bottles, or a case of wine.

Frequently asked questions
Now that you have a good idea of what to expect, there might still be a few unanswered questions. Like, what if you are not available to bid on the day?

Absentees have the option of commission (proxy) bidding. Clients leave bids for the auctioneer to enact based on the maximum they are willing to pay for a lot. If yours proves to be the winning bid, you will be charged no more than one bid step above the competing bid, no matter how low. 

And the bidding increments, how does that work?

The bidding increments will be as follows:

R1 000 – R2 000: by 100s

R2 000 – R5 000: by 200 / 500 / 800s

R5 000 – R10 000: by 500s

R10 000 – upwards: by R1 000s

When Auction Day is over, the best is yet to come – your wines! But before that can happen, here are some answers to questions you may have:

When do I pay?
You will receive an invoice for your purchases and delivery (if required) via email. The wine will be dispatched from 1 November 2021 provided you have settled your invoice.

How does the shipment of my wines work?
South African buyers can collect their wine from The Vineyard Connection, from the wineries or have their wine delivered to them. International deliveries can also be arranged. Please check before you bid whether you can accept wine in your country or state. It remains the purchaser’s responsibility to arrange the shipment of their wines, and all shipping costs will be for the purchaser’s account.

Can my wine be stored?
It is essential to maintain the provenance of the wines sold on Auction. All the wines were stored in ideal temperature and humidity-controlled storage facilities, and we advise you do the same to protect the wines’ integrity. Storing facilities at Wine Cellar in Observatory (Wine Cellar rates apply) can be arranged. 

Finally, what are the real benefits of online bidding?
Besides the fact that waving at a neighbour will not be misconstrued by your digital auctioneer as you are raising the bid on an unwanted lot, it is super safe and convenient. Moreover, online Auctions invite a more extensive international audience to enjoy the best wines from South Africa that benefits the whole industry. A longer bidding window for the Protégé Programme Auction helps to expose new markets to exceptional wines and the efforts put in to build the South African wine industry for future generations.

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In order to take part in these Auctions, you will need to follow three simple steps before bidding.