Willamette: the Pinot noir auction
Photo credit: Easton Richmond

The Willamette Valley Wineries Association’s summer fundraising event, Willamette: the Pinot noir Auction, is just days away, on Thursday, August 5! If you have a license to sell wine and customers who enjoy good Pinot noir and Chardonnay, this is your opportunity to buy exclusive lots made by some of the best wineries in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Love these wines but don’t have a resale license? Ask your favorite wine shop or restaurant to attend the auction, either in-person or virtually, and buy some for you!

Since COVID-19 is still very much circulating the globe, the Willamette Valley Wineries Association is limiting the number of people attending the in-person auction event. An outdoor tasting of all the special wine lots before lunch and the auction allows wine folks that attend to sample the wines beforehand. Even fully vaccinated, I am grateful for the precautionary measures they are taking to limit possible exposure. The ability to bid online is great for those buyers unable or unwilling to travel to Oregon this year.

Now in its sixth year, the auction celebrates the best Pinot noir and Chardonnay Oregon has to offer. Willamette Valley Wineries Association members make small wine lots of 5, 10, or 20 cases that are not available to buy or taste anywhere else but at this auction. The event proceeds will be used for association marketing, branding, and education.

I am beyond excited to be attending this auction! Matt will be wearing his wine buying hat and I am going as a member of the wine media. It just so happens that August 5 is my birthday and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate! Neither Matt nor I have participated in any wine industry tasting events since February 2020 and we both are looking forward to seeing our wine friends again in real life.

All the wines available for auction are from the 2019 vintage. After several very warm vintages, grape growers and winemakers appreciated the return to a more typical Oregon growing season. Mild frost in late April led to a slightly cooler growing season with few heat spikes. Then significant precipitation during late June and early July kept everyone on their toes. Sunshine without high temperatures through the rest of July and August was just what we all wanted, including the grapes! However, by September, the rain had returned, bringing with it cooler temperatures and disease concerns. As harvest neared, grape growers and winemakers fretted over ripening levels and just when to pick their fruit. Weather like this causes angst and nail-biting in Oregon’s wine industry but similar vintages in the past have proven that they offer the ultimate reward– elegant, highly ageable wines.

These are the vintages I especially love! I can’t wait to taste more 2019 Pinots and start stocking my cellar with them.

“We challenged the wineries of the Willamette Valley to present the very best their 2019 vintage had to offer and we are blown away by the results. The 2019 vintage was a return to a classic Willamette Valley growing season, complete with late summer rains that characterize the Pacific Northwest. The vintage is really defined by elegant complexity with wines that are built to age.”

Auction Co-Chair Rob Alstrin, president and CEO of Adelsheim

Durant Vineyards winemaker Spencer Spetnagel recently offered me a sample of their auction contribution. Named Rule of Thirds, the lot of 5 cases will be available to purchase during the auction. Made from grapes grown at three different elevations in the Durant Vineyard, each block was fermented and barreled separately (three barrels in total) before being blended together. Thirty-three percent was whole cluster and 33% was aged in new French oak. That’s quite a lot of threes and thirds!

2019 Durant Vineyards Rule of Thirds Pinot noir

Oregon wine: 2019 Durant Vineyards Rule of Thirds Pinot noir

Bouquet:

Rose petals // sour cherries // baking spices // whiff of earth // red plums // rasbperries // sliced almonds

Palate:

Rose hips // red plums // tart // baking spices // sour cherries // forest floor // cardamom // vibrant // laser-like focus // long finish

Click here if you haven’t yet read my Why Wine? interview with Spencer!

Tickets are still available to join the auction both virtually and in-person at host winery WillaKenzie Estate.

Follow this link to read more about the auction

If you’re already sold on attending, click here to go directly to ticket sales

Online bidder registrations will be accepted until Wednesday, August 4 at 6pm PDT. And, for any last-minute bidders, in-person ticket sales are open through August 5.

If you attend the event at WillaKenzie, I wish you good luck on your bids and please say hi while you’re there!

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About the Author: Michele Francisco

Michele Francisco, a founder and regular contributor to Winerabble, a blog primarily about Pacific Northwest wines, is living the dream in Portland, Oregon. Her passion leads some to believe she's got wine running through her veins. Contact Michele at michele@winerabble.com & be sure to visit her online portfolio at www.michelefrancisco.com.

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