Willamette Valley wineries raise $472K in 80 minutes with barrel auction

Willamette: The Pinot Noir Auction raised $472,000 in less than 90 minutes at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Ore. The event featuring Oregon Pinot Noir from the 2015 vintage raised marketing funds for the Willamette Valley Wineries Association.

Willamette: The Pinot Noir Barrel Auction raised $472,000 in less than 90 minutes at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Ore. The event featuring Oregon Pinot Noir from the 2015 vintage raised marketing funds for the Willamette Valley Wineries Association. (Photo by Aubrie LeGault Photography/Courtesy of Willamette Valley Wineries Association)

NEWBERG, Ore. — The allure of Oregon Pinot Noir raised $472,000 in 80 minutes on Saturday afternoon as 69 auction lots from the 2015 vintage were donated by winemakers to fund marketing initiatives for the Willamette Valley Wineries Association.

Willamette: The Point Noir Barrel Auction 2017 returned to the stylish Allison Inn and Spa for the second annual trade-only sale of unique lots of wine. The auction again inspired more than 400 merchants and collectors from across the continent to lift paddles after conducting research.

“The response to this event has been nothing short of remarkable, and we could not be more pleased,” Pat Dudley, auction co-chair and co-founder of Bethel Heights Vineyard, stated in a news release. “At the same time, I’m not entirely surprised.”

Most of these special five-, 10- and 20-case lots bid on by members of the national and international wine trade are expected to appear on wine lists at high-end restaurants and be available through specialty wine merchants throughout the country.

This year’s auction raised an average of more than $1,100 per case, a $100 increase over the inaugural auction. Winery participation increased from 66 to 69, but the auction total was off by $3,000 from last year’s debut at $476,000, a product of smaller lots being donated by the wineries, organizers said.

Bidders research lots by Willamette Valley wineries

David Adelsheim of Adelsheim vineyards

David Adelsheim planted the Pinot Noir behind him in 1972, a year after he moved from Portland to the Chehalem Mountains near Newberg, Ore. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

On the eve of the auction, Adelsheim Vineyard, Alexana Estate and Penner-Ash Wine Cellars each staged welcome events featuring wine from the auction wineries paired with favorite local cuisine. Shuttles transported guests among the events to sample library wines, current release Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and sparkling wine.

On Saturday, bidders and guests met at The Allison and tasted through the lineup of 69 lots. Acclaimed wine auctioneer Fritz Hatton orchestrated the afternoon bidding at The Allison.

“In truth, there is no other auction source in the world for the most sought-after bottlings of Pinot Noir, outside of Burgundy’s Hospice de Beaune, than the Willamette Pinot Noir Barrel Auction,” said vintner Josh Bergström.

A five-case lot by Antica Terra set the tone for the auction when UnWined Gourmet Wine & Cigars in Alexandria, Va., won it with a bid of $20,000. Antica Terra’s team held that single-barrel production in such esteem that it used stones from Alder Creek to fill head space rather than standard wine to top the barrel.

Dundee Hills cult producer Domaine Serene’s five cases of East Meets West Pinot Noir sold for $17,500. A five-case lot by Walter Scott Winery generated $15,000.

“The Willamette Valley has come to be recognized as one of the most exciting wine regions in the world, and this auction offers the highest expressions of Pinot Noir from our top producers,” Dudley said. “There is nothing else like it.”

Response by the bidders prompted the Willamette Valley Wineries Association to set the date of the 2018 Pinot Noir Barrel Auction for April 7. Those will spotlight wines from the 2016 vintage.

The WVWA is a nonprofit group with a stated goal of achieving recognition for the Willamette Valley as a premier region for Pinot Noir production. Executive director Sue Horstmann and her 230 members represent wineries and tasting rooms throughout the Willamette Valley region from Portland to Eugene.

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