Auction of Washington Wines Raises More than $4 Million for Charities

Over 2,000 wine lovers gathered near Seattle on a sunny weekend to raise a toast to Washington State’s burgeoning wine industry and raise money for several good causes. The 36th annual Auction of Washington Wines (AWW) pulled in more than $4 million for children’s medical care and winemaking research from Aug. 10 to 12. That total was nearly identical to last year’s event. The weather during the live auction gala matched the festive mood of the participants, who gathered in the gardens of Chateau St. Michelle winery, just north of Seattle, to enjoy delicious food, wine and music.

The three-day event included a winemaker picnic and barrel auction, the gala dinner auction, and a special celebration dinner called Toast! to honor Washington wine leaders. Attendees also had a chance to participate in online bidding for special lots of Washington wines, as well as a silent auction before the gala.

“Since the auction started in 1988, we have now raised a total of $63 million,” said Jamie Peha, the auction’s executive director. “This is exciting for our charities, and it also helps to elevate consumer perception of Washington wines.”

The money raised this year goes to Seattle Children’s Hospital, Washington State University’s Viticulture & Enology Research program and Vital, an organization providing healthcare access to vineyard workers and their families. Representatives from these organizations were invited to speak at the different auction venues.

Magnum-sized bidding

The live auction on Saturday evening was held in a white tent decorated with golden chandeliers and extravagant bouquets of dahlias on beautifully set tables. More than 600 guests feasted on a five-course meal, featuring local salmon, black cod and beef filet topped with smoked oysters, paired with many different Washington wines.

Stacy Lill, this year’s board president for the auction and co-owner of DeLille Cellars, welcomed the guests. “This is our 36th anniversary auction of Washington wines,” she said. “It is meaningful because it brings together our whole community—including luminaries, pioneers, emerging leaders and consumers—for a positive cause.”

A total of 30 lots, all including wine, were available for live bidding, led by auctioneers Fred Northup, Jr., and Chris Cashman. The live auction lots brought in $1.16 million. The top grossing lot was an 8-night African Safari sponsored by Betz Family Winery, which sold for $120,000. The next highest-selling lot, at $100,000, was a two-day VIP experience at a Seattle Seahawks game for four people with L’Ecole winery.

A paddle raise lot, where attendees were invited to donate any amount they wanted to Children’s Circle of Care, raised an additional $1.9 million—with three donors each raising their paddle to donate $100,000.

The annual Parade of Magnums was also quite popular, with the winning bidder taking home a magnum of wine from multiple wineries, including Quilceda Creek, Pepper Bridge, Fidelitas, Mark Ryan, Long Shadows, Cairdeas and Matthews. Winery owners paraded their magnums through the crowd to loud applause. The lot raised $12,000. An 18-vintage vertical of magnums from Leonetti Cellars brought in $32,500.

A cause and a community

Consumers at the event enjoyed the opportunity to support great causes and also interact with wine dignitaries. “I’ve attended this auction for the past 15 years, because I enjoy interacting with the winemakers and supporting the charities,” said Dave Fitzgerald, an attendee from San Francisco. “We know [grapegrower] Dick Boushey, and we like to meet with winemakers who produce wines made from Boushey vineyard grapes.”

Local physicians and wine collectors Stephen and Ann Bergert credited both a love of wine and the desire to support children’s health as a draw. “We’ve been coming to the auction for 35 years now, and we’ve purchased a magnum of wine each year,” said Stephen. “As physicians, we are very interested in helping to…

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Auction of Washington Wines Raises More than $4 Million for Charities Auction of Washington Wines Raises More than $4 Million for Charities *Auction of Washington Wines Raises More than $4 Million for Charities