News courtesy of The Willamette Valley Wineries Association.
Registered trade bidders from across the country vied for the top wines from the Willamette Valley on Thursday, August 5 at the sixth annual Willamette: the Pinot Noir auction held in-person and via live-stream online from WillaKenzie Estate located in the heart of Yamhill, Oregon. The Auction celebrated the 2019 vintage with 85 lots of one-of-a-kind Pinot noir and seven Chardonnay lots from past and present Auction chairs. Each wine was produced in quantities of five, 10 or 20 cases, and will become available to the public through resale by the winning bidders. Competition was high under the outdoor auction tent, and bidders raised an impressive $611,000 on wine lots, with additional sponsorship funds bringing the Auction total to $705,100. A majority of funds raised will help fund future marketing and education initiatives of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association.
Auctioneer Fritz Hatton returned to the stage in a festive Hawaiian button-down, gavel in hand, for what was for many an exciting afternoon of bidding. Paddles were raised high, both in-person and virtually, as bidders entered furious competition for lots from Adelsheim, Antica Terra, Lingua Franca, Elk Cove Vineyards, 00 Wines and more. It was fitting that 00 Wines ranked among one of the top lots as Winemaker Wynne Peterson-Nedry’s father Harry Peterson-Nedry was the champion of Willamette Valley’s recently earned European Union Protected Geographical Indication Status approval. At the halfway point of the Auction, Harry Peterson-Nedry stepped to center stage to address attendees about the honor.
The hybrid event showcased a new normal for the region’s wine events. Registered trade members were offered the opportunity to bid in person or online in real-time via bidding software ClickBid. All bidders were invited to participate in preview tastings via online Zoom seminars Jul. 26-30. The day of the Auction kicked off with a walk-around, in-person preview tasting followed by a seated lunch on the expansive grounds of WillaKenzie Estate. Registered bidders included distributors, restaurant buyers and retailers.
The average price per lot this year reached $6,641, representing a 34% increase over the previous year. This year’s Auction had 17 first-time winery participants for a total of 89 wineries represented, the highest winery participation rate in the Auction’s history. The highest selling lot from a first-time participating winery was Lot 39: Goodfellow Family Cellars “First Pick” Pinot noir which sold for $7,000 for five cases. Of the seven Chardonnay lots offered in 5-case quantities, Soléna Estate and Domaine Divio’s “Francophilia” fetched top dollar at $11,000.
• Lot 92: Five cases of Adelsheim Pinot noir “Cheers to 50 Years”: $17,500
• Lot 57: Five cases of Antica Terra Pinot noir “Alder Creek”: $17,000
• Lot 73: Twenty cases of Maison Noir Wines Pinot noir “Lamb of God”: $16,000
• Lot 49: Five cases of 00 Wines Pinot noir “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”: $13,500
• Lot 84: Five cases of Lingua Franca Pinot noir “Up & Up”: $13,000
• Lot 87: Five cases of Soléna Estate Pinot noir “L’élégance”: $12,000
• Lot 43: Five cases of Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot noir “The Matterhorn”: $12,000
• Lot 52: Five cases of Big Table Farm Pinot noir “THE LOVE NINJA II”: $12,000
As the Auction came to a close with Lot 92: Adelsheim “Cheers to 50 Years” Pinot noir, Auction Co-Chair and Adelsheim President and CEO Rob Alstrin rose to his feet and called on attendees and those watching from home to bid high for the final lot, and the excitement in the air was palpable.
“We are just so thrilled to be able to come together with our friends in the wine buying community to raise funds for the Willamette Valley Wineries Association,” said Alstrin. “Those that purchased these special bottles from the 2019 vintage will be treated to wines that are sure to age for decades to come.”
“The outcome of this year truly shows that Willamette Pinot noir is continuing to grow in global recognition,” continued Auction Co-Chair and National Sales Manager of Northwest Wine Company Jessica Endsworth.
A portion of the Auction proceeds will also serve as the initial funding in the establishment of the Willamette Valley Wine Foundation (WVWF). The charitable recipient of the 2021 Willamette: the Pinot Noir auction is the Home that Wine Country Built. The Home will be built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity to benefit a local wine community family. A contribution from this year’s Auction will support the Willamette Valley Wineries Association’s (WVWA) $100,000 funding of this project.