Fritz Hatton is one of the nation’s most experienced wine auctioneers. His wine auction experience dates back to1980, when he joined Christie’s to help start the Wine Department in the United States. He was subsequently promoted to management and became Chief Operating Officer for the Christie’s U.S. and Far East. After a musical sabbatical in the early 1990’s he returned to Christie’s and served as Director of Christie’s U.S. Wine Department from 1995 to 1998. In this capacity and in partnership with the leading American wine retailer Zachys he was responsible for the largest auctions of wine ever organized in the United States, $4 million and $6.5 million; annual sales rose from $4 million to nearly $20 million. Numerous wine records were established by the department during his tenure, among them the highest price for a single lot of wine ($420,500 for 50 cases of Mouton-Rothschild 1982), the highest price for a single case of wine ($112,500 for a case of Mouton-Rothschild 1945), and the highest price for a single lot of California wine ($77,000 for 25 cases of Dominus 1994). In 2002 he joined the prominent retailer Zachys as auctioneer and consultant for its new solo wine auction venture. The sales conducted beginning in October 2002 have been resoundingly successful and Zachys has now assumed the number one position in the U.S. wine auction market.
Ursula has been standing at a podium from the very start of her career at Christie’s in New York. Ursula worked as a furniture and decorations generalist until Christie’s called upon her to actualize her passion for the grape. In the mid-1990’s Ursula established Christie’s New York wine department along with their original auction partner Zachys, the Scarsdale, NY fine wine mega-retailer. The Zachys-Christie’s New York wine auctions set new standards for the American wine auction market. Ursula eventually left Christie’s and jumped into the high adventures of the dot.com arena. Her pioneering interest in online wine auctions prompted Wine Spectator to profile Ursula in its article “The Changing Face of Auctions.”
Over the years, Ursula has been invited to work most of the country’s top ten benefit wine auctions. Ursula became the first woman to take the rostrum at the world famous Napa Valley Wine Auction and continues to appear annually. In June 2013, Ursula worked the stage with to hammer down the largest Napa Valley Wine Auction total to date: $16.9 million – the country’s largest benefit wine auction total in history. Ursula works personally with record-holding baseball player Rusty Staub, presiding each year over his foundation’s wine auction, which is the country’s fourth largest. Ursula has also joined forces with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse to wield the gavel for his foundation. She has worked with Robin Williams, Michael J. Fox, Heather Locklear and Teri Hatcher, each celebrity jumping on her stage to spice up the auction action. In addition to banging a gavel, Ursula has spoken at a number of wine conferences and symposia, including the Aspen Food & Wine Festival, The International Pinot Noir Celebration and the American Institute of Wine and Food National Convention. Ursula has been featured on CNN’s Marketplace and is a frequent guest on various radio shows dealing with wine and its investment potential. Additionally, you will have seen her profiled in Wine Spectator, Decanter, Wine & Spirits, Drinks, Town & Country, and Glamour magazines. Often called upon to comment on women’s position in the wine world, her comments are found in a recent Time.com article on wine marketing to women. Along with the wine world’s most influential figures in the international wine scene, Ursula is included in Ann B. Matasar’s, Women of Wine (University of California Press). Vanity Fair magazine included her as a definition in their 2005 Wine Snob’s Dictionary.
From 2006 – 2010, Ursula held the position as Estate Manager at California’s most elusive wine property Screaming Eagle. She was chosen for this position by the new owners who recognized that her connection to the Napa Valley, as well as her experience of the world’s finest wine, was a perfect fit oversee the continuation of excellence.
She is also the author of The Wine Lovers Guide to Auctions: The Art & Science of Buying and Selling Wine (Square One Publishers).
We were saddened to learn that our beloved auctioneer, David Reynolds, passed away while visiting his family in London in December, 2013. David spent over 30 years devoted to and developing the art of charity auctions. He was a leader in his field, a mentor for the thousands of auction personnel he guided and will be missed-immensely.
David Reynolds co-founded Reynolds & Buckley Auctioneers in San Francisco, California. A well-respected authority on the fundraising auction circuit and known for his British wit, colorful vests, high-energy performance style and ability to entertain while raising maximum dollars, he set the standard that so many others admired.
Born in London, England, David was considered the leading benefit wine auctioneer in the United States. He had been a wine retailer, wholesaler, sommelier, radio commentator and briefly, a winemaker. David was highly regarded in the wine community. Anthony Dias Blue has called him his “dream auctioneer.”
David will be missed by all of us here at the 16th Annual V Wine Celebration.