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Pouring 2015 Pinot Noir only. ##Photo by Aubrie LeGault
Auctioneer Fritz Hatton encourages guests to increase their bids during the 2017 Willamette: The Pinot Noir Barrel Auction. ##Photo by Aubrie LeGault

Paddling Pinot Noir

WVWA trade-only auction raises $472,000

The second installment of Willamette: The Pinot Noir Barrel Auction, a trade-only showcase of rare wines hosted by the Willamette Valley Wineries Association (WVWA), is a wrap. Sixty-nine Oregon producers contributed one-off Pinot Noirs from the lauded 2015 vintage for auction. The event drew more than 400 attendees and raised close to a half million dollars in sales for the regional association.

Bidders enjoy themselves and glasses of Pinot at the trade-only affair inside The Allison Inn & Spa. ##Photo by Aubrie LeGault

“The response to this event has been nothing short of remarkable, and we could not be more pleased,” said Pat Dudley, vintner and auction co-chair. “At the same time, I’m not entirely surprised. 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. There is nothing else like it.”

The festivities began March 31 with three welcome parties featuring a variety of wines paired with favorite local food. Guests were shuttled to a nearby winery for each event and sampled library wines and current release Pinots as well as Chardonnay and sparkling wine.

On Saturday, guests tasted through the line-up of 69 lots at The Allison Inn. It was obvious immediately that the 2015 Oregon vintage is living up to the excitement. These limited-production results of careful selection and blending represent the pinnacle of Oregon’s most famous region.

Auctioneer Fritz Hatton energized the audience at the live auction in The Allison ballroom. Antica Terra’s five-case lot of #55 Pinot Noir quickly sold for $20,000 to Unwined in Alexandria, Virginia. Domaine Serene’s five cases of East Meets West Pinot Noir sold for $17,500, and participants applauded as Walter Scott’s five-case lot reached $15,000.

After only 80 minutes, all 69 wines were sold for $472,000, and guests streamed out to the post-party ready to celebrate. A Big Bottle bar of coveted library selections, festive sparkling wine, and local beer with iconic Portland food perfected the evening.

Exceeding expectations, this year’s auction averaged more than $1,100 per case — compared to last year’s average of $1,000 — and further signifying the region’s presence on the global wine stage.  The unique wines are bid on by members of the national and international wine trade, ultimately to appear in select retailers and restaurants throughout the country.

WVWA is a nonprofit 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 230 members representing wineries and tasting rooms throughout the Willamette Valley region, from Portland to Eugene. For more information, visit www.willamettewines.com.

The organization already looks ahead to next year and the third consecutive Pinot Noir Barrel Auction April 7, 2018.

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