Auction of Washington Wines grows Private Barrel lots by 55 percent

By on June 6, 2018
private barrel auction 2017 richard duval images - Auction of Washington Wines grows Private Barrel lots by 55 percent

Members of the wine trade and participating winemakers toast the 2017 Private Barrel Auction for the Auction of Washington Wines. (Photo by Richard Duval Images)

WOODINVILLE, Wash. – Donations have reached a record number and 15 new wineries will be participating in the Auction of Washington Wines Private Barrel Auction with 31 exclusive five-case lots up for bid Aug. 16 in Woodinville at Novelty Hill-Januik.

Each of the 31 wineries were invited to the Private Barrel Auction based on ratings of 92 points or greater through major wine publications and impressions from Auction of Washington Wines co-chairs Bob Betz, Master of Wine, and Juan Muñoz Oca, head winemaker of Columbia Crest.

“Each wine offered at this auction is a unique blend, each built on that winery’s foundation of excellence, some exploring new varieties, new vineyards, new techniques or barrels, but each wine a reflection of the very best that winery makes,“ Betz stated in a news release.

The Private Barrel Auction helps kick off the three-day Auction of Washington Wines, which Allen Shoup, a Washington Wine Hall of Fame inductee, helped launch in 1988. Last year’s event ranked as the fifth-largest charity wine auction in the country after raising $4.1 million for Seattle Children’s Hospital and Washington State University’s viticulture and enology program.

In its 31 years, the Auction of Washington Wines has raised more than $41  million.

Private Barrel Auction limited to licensed trade

Juan Muñoz Oca is the head winemaker for Intrinsic.

Juan Muñoz Oca, head winemaker for Columbia Crest, also is behind Intrinsic, the fascinating Cabernet Sauvignon made in an unusual way. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Licensed members of the wine trade will be allowed to sample and bid during the course of six hours. All money raised goes to wine education at WSU and research at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Wine Science Center in Richland. The Private Barrel Auction’s first three years have led to $270,000 in funding.

“This auction is a very special opportunity for members of the trade to bid on extremely rare wine lots, while also supporting the future of our industry,” says Shelley Tomberg, who is in her second year as executive director of the Auction of Washington Wines.

Newcomers to the Private Barrel Auction lineup for 2018 include Aquilini Red Mountain, Avennia, Baer Winery, Cadence, Dunham Cellars, Intrinsic Wine Co., JM Cellars, Lauren Ashton Cellars, Mullan Road Cellars, Rasa Vineyards, Rôtie Cellars, Seven Hills Winery, Sparkman Cellars, van Löben Sels and Walla Walla Vintners.

Last year, there were 11 fewer lots, so organizers anticipate an increase in wine buyers from more than a dozen states. The buzz created by the barrel lots will be used by merchants to entice clients looking to line their cellars with one-of-a-kind wines. Bottles are labeled by the Auction of Washington Wines, which notes the beneficiary and the limited production number on the label. Only 60 bottles of each wine are made.

Top lot from cult producer hit $15,000 in 2017

Jeff Cox - Auction of Washington Wines grows Private Barrel lots by 55 percent

Jeff Cox, wine buyer for PCC Community Markets in the Puget Sound, placed the winning bid last year for the Leonetti Cellar 2015 Mill Creek Upland Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which raised $11,000. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

The Private Barrel Auction website shares specifics on every lot, and each winemaker shares insight on their wine in a video. Consumers can find out where to purchase past Private Barrel Auction wines under the Locate Wines tab on the website.

Winning bids from last year’s Private Barrel Auction ranged from $4,000 to $15,000. Highlights included:

  • Quilceda Creek 2015 Champoux Vineyard Estate Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills. The winning bid of $15,000 translates to $250 per bottle for the 5-case lot. It was purchased by Whispering Vine Wine Co., in Reno, Nev.
  • Leonetti Cellar 2015 Mill Creek Upland Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley. Puget Sound grocer PCC Community Markets paid $11,000 for the winning lot.
  • Woodward Canyon 2016 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills. Tulalip Resort Casino near Marysville won the item at $8,000.

Licensed trade and wine media may register online at

Event sponsors include TN Coopers, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Signature Mobile Bottlers, M.A. Silva USA, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Novelty Hill Januik, Washington State Wine Commission, Woodinville Wine Country and Bloom, A Growth Platform for Modern Wineries.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the President and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for a decade. He is a frequent wine judge at international wine competitions throughout North America and orchestrates 10 Northwest competitions each year.

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