My Latest in Wines & Vines: Washington Barrel Auction Raises $251,500

Washington Barrel Auction Raises $251,500

Largest total yet for trade-only barrel auction featuring unique wines from the state’s top wineries

by L.M. Archer

eft to right: Gilles Nicault, director of winemaking and viticulture, Long Shadows Vintners; Marie-Eve Gilla, head winemaker, Valdemar Estates; Mike Januik, private barrel auction host at Novelty Hill-Januik Winery and winemaker, Januik Winery. ©2018 L.M. Archer
Left to right: Gilles Nicault, director of winemaking and viticulture, Long Shadows Vintners; Marie-Eve Gilla, head winemaker, Valdemar Estates; Mike Januik, private barrel auction host at Novelty Hill-Januik Winery and winemaker, Januik Winery. ©2018 L.M. Archer

Woodinville, Wash.—The fourth annual Auction of Washington Wines private barrel auction raised more than $245,000 to benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Washington State University Viticulture and Enology Program, nearly exceeding the total from the previous three auctions combined.

“We’re popping our buttons!” said winemaker and master of wine Bob Betz. “It shows, especially to bidders from outside the area, Washington state’s presence on the world stage now.”

The auction is “private” to members of the trade who traveled from as far as Europe, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and California for a chance to bid on Washington state’s top-tier blends, including lots like Sparkman Cellar’s 2016 “Black Dragon,” made from 50% Malbec and 50% Petit Verdot.

“The winemakers really took hold of the concept this year and made unique wines,” said event director Jamie Peha. “These wines are made in exclusive, five-case lots so members of the trade, restaurateurs and retailers who purchase these wines can then market them for their top clients across the country.”

The auction has raised $270,000 in the past three years and that cumulative total was almost surpassed by this year’s auction that took place on Aug. 16 at Novelty Hill-Januik Winery in Woodinville. The 2017 auction raised $137,000. Helmed by auctioneer Ursula Hermancinski, the auction featured 31 lots and the top lots included Lot 7 2016 “Holy Roller” Cabernet Sauvignon by Leonetti Cellars in Walla Walla, and Lot 30 2017 “Old Block” Cabernet Sauvignon by DeLille Cellars in Woodinville, each selling for $16,000 per lot.

“The room is a who’s who of the best wineries in Washington State,” said Marty Clubb the managing winemaker and owner of L’Ecole No. 41 in Lowden. “Our goal is to out-do the other wineries. We all want to have the best wine on the floor. Of course, each one of us puts our best foot forward in making a stand-out, stand-alone wine.”

Chris Figgins, winemaker and owner of Leonetti Cellars, said of his top-lot wine, “Our other five vineyards are on hillside loess, but this wine is on the cobbles, down on The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. So it’s pretty exciting — it’s completely different stylistically from our other Leonetti wines.”

“The Sparkmans are very interested in both goals of education and research,” said Linn Scott, winemaker for Sparkman Cellars. “We were the featured vintner last year, and are really honored to be included this year again, both in the private barrel auction and the picnic auction tonight at Ste. Michelle.”  Read more here. Copyright © Wines & Vines.

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