On April 2, 2016, the Willamette Valley hosted the region’s first-ever trade auction at the Allison Inn and Spa, Willamette: The Pinot Noir Barrel Auction, drawing over 400 attendees and raising $476,000. Sixty-six of the top Pinot noir producers from the Willamette Valley showcased their one-of-a-kind lots of handcrafted wines for an elite, trade-only audience from around the country.
“We are thrilled at the success of this event. It was an amazing opportunity for retailers, restaurateurs and distributors from all over the world to not only obtain rare bottlings from our best cellars but to further delve into the complex and world class story of Oregon’s Wine community, said Josh Bergström, the Chairman of the auction. “It was time for an event of this caliber in the Willamette Valley. The Oregon wine community sits in a unique moment of time where pioneers and young visionaries are standing together at the same table raising the quality of Pinot noir for the world.”
Bidding on the first lot, five cases from Bergström Winery, quickly soared to $10,000 in a room of eager paddle holders bidding with enthusiasm and beaming to be part of this historic moment. Exceeding expectations, in less than 90 minutes, the auction raised close to a half a million dollars, averaging over $1,000 per case and further signifying the region’s presence on the world wine stage.
Notable highlights include the five case lot of never before bottled estate grown Pinot noir planted at Bethel Heights in 1994. Winemaker Ben Casteel’s custom bottling for Bethel Heights Vineyard sold for $10,500 to an active group of bidders from Frederick Wildman & Sons in New York City. A single barrel wine made exclusively from the Antica Terra vineyard by Maggie Harrison for Antica Terra Winery sold for $13,000 to the Sea Island Resort in Georgia. Ten cases of Pinot noir crafted from the Yamhill-Carlton and Dundee Hills AVAs by renowned Oregon winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash for Penner Ash Wine Cellars sold for $16,000 to Houston restaurant, Plonk Bistro.
In addition to the recognizable brand names, the inaugural auction premiered wines from notable newcomers to the Oregon wine industry. Nicolas-Jay, the partnership between Jean-Nicholas Méo and Jay Boberg, auctioned their first wine ever released for sale to the public. Industry veteran, Greg Ralston and acclaimed winemaker, Isabelle Meunier, auctioned their first ever cuvee under the brand Lavinea.
Both of these lots were purchased by Ellen Spicknall from Wine Cellars of Annapolis, who commented after the event: “To have an opportunity to get in on the very first vintage of Lavinea was something we couldn’t pass up… The entire event was marvelous, and the people I met are as world-class as their wines. That’s why we love to introduce Willamette Valley wines to our customers at the Wine Cellars of Annapolis. We will be back next year.”
All proceeds from the auction will support the marketing and branding efforts of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association. The event was facilitated by the nation’s foremost auctioneer, Fritz Hatton. The second annual auction has already been scheduled for April 1, 2017.
For more information about Willamette: The Pinot Noir Barrel Auction and for a complete list of participating wineries please visit www.willamettewines.auction.
About the Willamette Valley Wineries Association:
The WVWA is a non-profit industry association dedicated to achieving recognition for Oregon’s acclaimed Willamette Valley as a premier Pinot noir-producing region. Currently, the WVWA has more than 210 members representing wineries and tasting rooms throughout the Willamette Valley region from Portland to Eugene. Memorial Weekend in the Wine Country and Wine Country Thanksgiving are the two oldest WVWA-sponsored touring events in Oregon. The WVWA also publishes an annual guide to wineries with a touring map. For more information or to request a touring map, please visit www.willamettewines.com, call 503-646- 2985, or follow on Twitter @wvwines and on Facebook.