The sixth annual Willamette: Pinot Noir auction took place on August 5th. This year’s event was led by Jessica Endsworth, National Sales Manager for Northwest Wine Company, and Rob Alstrin, Adelsheim’s President and CEO and was sponsored by the Willamette Valley Wineries Association.
This year’s auction, held by WillaKenzie Estate in the heart of Yamhill County, used a hybrid format that featured both in person, on-site and via livestream in a celebration of the 2019 vintage.
Registered bidders from across the county battled for 85 lots of unique Pinot Noir and seven Chardonnay lots from past and present auction chairs. Each wine was produced in quantities of five, 10 or 20 boxes. Winning bidders have the option of making bottles from their lots available to the public, even if they are not required to do so.
The competition under the outdoor auction tent was heated. The bidders raised an impressive $ 611,000 on wine lots, with additional sponsorships bringing the auction to a total of $ 705,100. A majority of the funds raised will help fund future marketing and training initiatives from the Willamette Valley Wineries Association.
Auctioneer Fritz Hatton, who had a festive Hawaiian buttons down and the gable in his hand, was back to oversee the case. Paddles, both personally and practically, bubbled up and down, as bidders furiously refused to secure rare lots for parties from Adelsheim, Antica Terra, Lingua Franca, Elk Cove Vineyards, 00 Wines and more.
Many of the parties represented unique joint ventures between otherwise rival wineries with fruit from several vineyards that had never been vinified or blended together before.
The hybrid event showed a new norm for the region’s wine events. Registered traders were offered the opportunity to bid in person or online in real time via the bidding software ClickBid. All bidders were invited to participate in pre-tastings via online Zoom seminars between July 26 and July 30.
The auction day kicked off with a tasting that was tried in person followed by a seated lunch on the large plot of WillaKenzie Estate. Registered bidders included distributors, restaurant buyers and retailers.
The average price per Lot this year reached $ 6,641, representing an increase of 34% 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 in the auction’s history.
The best-selling batch 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 numbers offered in quantities in five cases, Soléna Estate and Domaine Divio’s “Francophilia” fetched top dollars for $ 11,000.
· Lot 92: Five cases with Adelsheim Pinot Noir “Cheers to 50 Years”: $ 17,500
Lot 57: Five cases of Antica Terra Pinot Noir “Age Creek”: $ 17,000
Lot 73: Twenty cases of Maison Noir Wines Pinot Noir “Lamb of God”: $ 16,000
· Lot 49: Five boxes of 00 Pinot Noir wines “Oh, the places you come!”: $ 13,500
Lot 84: Five cases with Lingua Franca Pinot Noir “Up & Up”: $ 13,000
Lot 87: Five cases of Soléna Estate Pinot Noir “Elegance”: $ 12,000
Lot 43: Five cases of Elk Cove Vineyard’s Pinot Noir “The Matterhorn”: $ 12,000
· Lot 52: Five cases with Big Table Farm Pinot Noir “THE LOVE NINJA II”: $ 12,000
When the auction ended with lot 92: Adelsheim “Cheers to 50 Years” Pinot Noir, the chairman of the auction and the president and CEO of Adelsheim invited participants and those who watched from home to bid high on the last lot and noted:
We’re just so excited to be able to get together with our friends in the wine buying community to raise funds for the Willamette Valley Wineries Association. Those who bought these special bottles from the 2019 vintage will be treated to wines that are sure to age for decades to come.
According to Jessica Endsworth, Auction Co-Chair, National Sales Manager for Northwest Wine Company:
The result of this year truly shows that Willamette Pinot Noir continues to grow in global recognition.
Part of the auction proceeds will also serve as the initial funding for the creation of the Willamette Valley Wine Foundation (WVWF). The charitable recipient of Willamette in 2021: The Pinot Noir auction is the home that the wine country built.
The home will be built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity for the benefit of a local wine family. A contribution from this year’s auction will support the Willamette Valley Wineries Association’s (WVWA) $ 100,000 funding for this project.