HILLSBORO, Ore. — Willamette Valley Vineyards founder Jim Bernau and St. Innocent winemaker Mark Vlossak were honored by their Oregon wine industry peers earlier this month during the 23rd annual ¡Salud! Oregon Pinot Noir auction, which raised $722,000 for vineyard workers’ healthcare.
Bernau, who in 1983 began transforming a plum orchard into the Turner, Ore., showpiece vineyard and winery, was presented the Los Heroes de ¡Salud! Award. Vlossak, with 26 years at his Eola-Amity Hills winery, received the Legacy Winemaker Award amid the two evenings of festivities in the north Willamette Valley.
“We are so grateful to all of our auction guests and the participating vintners,” Corby Stonebraker-Soles, ¡Salud! steering committee co-chair, said in a news release. “These donations are crucial to our continued programming to support our dedicated vineyard workers. With these funds, we will continue to provide necessary health screenings, vaccinations, dental care and continue the success of our recently launched mobile unit.”
The weekend began Nov. 14 with the sold-out ¡Salud! Cuvée Tasting and Big Board Auction at Domaine Drouhin Oregon. The Dundee Hills soiree drew 475 attendees and raised more than $200,000, a record for that evening.
A day later, the sold-out Saturday Dinner and Auction Gala — staged for the first time at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg — gathered 340 patrons and raised $522,000 through live and silent auctions, ticket sales and sponsorships.
Chehalem, Elk Cove, Ponzi donate 2-generation winemaker dinners
A pair of winemaker dinners drew the most interest among the auction items. First- and second-generation vintners from Ponzi Vineyards (Luisa Ponzi and her father, Dick), Chehalem (Wynne Peterson-Nedry and her father, Harry) and Elk Cove Vineyards (Adam Campbell and his father, Pat) offered to team up for a group winemakers’ dinner. The dinner sold twice, raising a total of $23,000.
The top single auction item was a custom trip to New Zealand donated by Argyle Winery that generated $13,000.
¡Salud! was created in 1991 by a coalition of Oregon winery owners — led by Nancy Ponzi — in collaboration with Tuality Healthcare Foundation to offer services for seasonal vineyard workers and their families. This fall, ¡Salud! rolled out its new mobile wellness clinic that makes it easier for vineyard workers to receive care.
The mobile clinic, which also will save the program more than $30,000 a year by reducing contract service providers, was funded in part by the Erath Family Foundation and Willamette Valley Vineyards.
This year’s ¡Salud! Vintners Circle includes Adelsheim Vineyard, Alexana Winery, Amalie Robert Estate, Antica Terra, ArborBrook Vineyards, Archery Summit, Ayres Vineyard, Beaux Frères, Bergström Wines, Bethel Heights Vineyard, Brittan Vineyards, Brooks Winery, Chehalem, Cristom Vineyards, Dobbes Family Estate, Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Dukes Family Vineyards, Dusky Goose, Elk Cove, Erath Winery, Gran Moraine, Hamacher Wines, Ken Wright Cellars, Lange Estate Winery, Patricia Green Cellars, Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Ponzi, R. Stuart & Co., Raptor Ridge Winery, ROCO Winery, Scott Paul Wines, Shea Wine Cellars, Soléna Estate, Soter Vineyards, St. Innocent, Stoller Family Estate, Trisaetum, WillaKenzie Estate, Winderlea Vineyard & Winery and Witness Tree Vineyard. Winery partners include Argyle, Sokol Blosser and Willamette Valley Vineyards.