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Auction of Washington State Wines Private Barrel Auction Raises $300K for Charity

Benefits Seattle Children's and Washington State University (WSU) Viticulture and Enology Program
by L.M. Archer
August 16, 2019
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Auctioneer Ursula Hermacinski and Steve Warner - Private Barrel Auction, Auction of Washington State Wines

Woodinville, Wash., - It’s good to be a premium winemaker in Washington state. On August 15, Auction of Washington State Wines Private Barrel Auction raised $300,000 at Novelty Hill-Januik Winery to benefit Seattle Children’s and Washington State University (WSU) Viticulture and Enology Program.

Part of the three-day Auction of Washington Wines (AWW) program, the Private Barrel Auction provides wine trade, collectors and industry members the opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind Washington state prestige wines unavailable elsewhere. Auctioneer Ursula Hermacinski gaveled with gusto, with a little assistance from Steve Warner, President of Washington State Wine. Now in its fifth year, over forty Washington state wineries from Walla Walla to Woodinville offered up their best lots, blends and barrels.

“I think that this is a really unique style of auction,” says Private Barrel Auction Executive Director Jamie Peha. “It follows in the footsteps of Premiere Napa Valley, the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Auction, and the Sonoma County Barrel Auction. We’re all looking for the same audience, which is the trade who want to buy something unique for their top clients. And we’re also trying to raise the acclaim of Washington wine across the country.”

Peha upped the auction ante this year by introducing new ‘Barrel Series’ and ‘Vintner’s Blend’ lots. Barrel Series #1 synced wunderkind sommelier-turned-winemaker Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen of W.T. Vintners (with growers Dick and Luanne Boushey. The partnership produced a single barrel of 2018 Syrah from Boushey Birdhouse Block and Grand Côte, two cool-climate sites. Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen said Barrel Series #1 “defies logic,” made with about 85% whole cluster, foot-trodden, followed by spontaneous fermentation and malo, then aged in neutral barrique. “We actually blended this lot after pressing,” he says, “So it’s been together since day one. It’s not even born yet - it’s got a long way to go in it’s evolution, but I’m really excited for its future.”

Vintner’s Blend #1 combined the triple talents of winemakers Chris Peterson of Avennia, Louis Skinner of Betz Family Winery, and Jason Gorski of DeLille Cellars with sommelier Nelson Daquip of Canlis. Together, they made 15 cases of 2017 Bordeaux Blend. “One of the reasons that we created the Vintners’ Blend,” said Peha, “which is a combination of wineries and a local sommelier, is to develop a unique wine for the local trade to purchase, so they can build awareness for the Private Barrel Auction brand - something just for them. This very first Vintner’s Blend we sold entirely to local trade, retailers and restaurateurs, so we came into the auction with that already on the books.”

Treveri Cellars presented a 2017 Blanc de Blancs brut of 100% Chardonnay, and Syncline Winery offered a 2014 Scintillation Extended Tirage Blanc de Noirs produced from almost 50 year old Pinot Noir vines grown in the Columbia Gorge.“This is the first time we’ve had white wine at all,” admits Peha, “and wines from the Gorge.”

Quilceda Creek commanded over $18,000 for their individual lot of 2016 Syrah from Champoux Vineyard on Horse Heaven Hills. “Every year, I come back, and the quality just keeps getting better and better,”Quilceda Creek’s Alex Stewart said, “And it goes to support an incredibly great cause.”

Newcomer Liminal turned heads with their inaugural Red Mountain 2018 Syrah. Formerly launched as Red Mountain Elevated, Liminal’s entry made a statement. “This is us jumping in with both feet head over barrel into Red Mountain, and we couldn’t be more excited about it,” says Marty Taucher of Avennia, who joins forces on the project with winemaker Chris Peterson and Weathereye Vineyard’s Cameron Myhrvold and Ryan Johnson. “It’s a great time to take advantage of fantastic interest and attention, not just around the Private Barrel Auction, but around the whole Auction of Washington Wine, which is a spectacular event. And, we’re raising money for Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology program, which is really important for the future of the industry.”

For host winery NoveltyHill-Januik, it was also a chance to give back to the Washington state wine community. “We’ve been very fortunate in our lives in the Washington wine industry,” second-generation winemaker Andrew Januik said. “It’s provided us a livelihood for over 30 years, and a sense of community. So this is a way for us to pay back slightly what we’ve gotten from it. And it’s fun having everybody here, bringing their different and unique wines. We’re just trying to do our little part.”

Participants traveled from all parts of the country to attend the event, from Florida to Colorado, California and Oregon. “We hit another record at $300,000 for the Private Barrel Auction, which is great,” Peha said. “I think that hitting another record two years in row is pretty awesome. And this is just something great to build on.”

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Novelty-Hill Januik Winery - Auction of Washington State Wine Private Barrel Auction
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Andrew Januik and Dr Thomas Henick-Kling, Washington State University Viticulture and Enology program
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Jamie Peha, Executive Director - Private Barrel Auction, Auction of Washington State Wines with Randy McLeod of A Good Year Wine

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