Auction of Washington Wine is a three day celebration and fundraiser that kicks off with the Barrel Auction and Picnic with Wine Makers.

Shayne Bjornholm

Barrel Auction Emcee, Shayne Bjornholm

This year, 20 wineries donated a barrel of their wine to the auction. Since each barrel is five cases of wine, there isn’t just one winner but five winners. The top 5 bidders for each barrel receive a case of that wine once it is bottled.  The highest bidder receives a barrel top marked with the winery name and signed by the wine maker.

Barrel Auction

Barrel Auction

The stage area of Chateau Ste Michelle is devoted to the Barrel Auction. Picnic patrons can taste barrel samples and learn about the wines from the wine makers. It is a great opportunity to interact with the wine makers, which is one of the highlights of this fun event. Last year, many of the barrel samples were gone by the time I made my way down to the stage, so I started with barrel tasting first. I still didn’t make it to all of them before they were gone, but that was because I spent as much or more time talking about wine than I did drinking it!

Here are some of the barrel tastings that captured my attention:

  • Adams Bench 2009 Red Willow Cabernet:
    Adams Bench

    Erica Blue, Adams Bench

    Erica and Tim Blue were pouring the elegant, complex and smooth 2007 vintage. It was a great way to start the event.

  • Cadaretta 2008 Springboard: Red Bordeaux blend with bold and sturdy tannins that don’t hold your tongue hostage. The fruit persists throughout the lengthy finish but this isn’t a fruit bomb. It is resplendent with notes of leather, earth and subtle wood.
  • Des Voigne Cellars 2009 “Untitled” Red Wine: An intriguing red wine blend of  45% Syrah,  35% Cab Franc and 20% Petit Verdot. This is a big inky wine with bright fruit flavors and smooth tannins. It was a steal with the highest bid of only $650!
  • Grand Rêve Collaboration VI: This newest collaboration utilizes the considerable talents of James Mantone in creating this Rhone style blend of 52% Mourvedre, 25% Syrah, 23% Grenache.  Scheduled for 2011 release, this wine will benefit from that time to mature but even so, it was one of those wines that I will continue to think about and eagerly anticipate its release.
  • Hedges Family Estate 2009 Syrah Limited: When I first sipped this Syrah it was really tight, to the point it was almost difficult to gauge its full potential. But then I got into a conversation with Pete Hedges about our blog and told me how he used to be a brewer. By the time Dick Boushay joined us to talk about the Big Time Trombipulator, the Hedges Syrah had really started to open up and began to entice me with its spicy characteristics. Pete suggests that your patience will be rewarded if you open a bottle of Hedges wine the night before you wish to drink it to allow it to open up to its true potential.
  • Walter Dacon

    Ann Anderson, Walter Dacon Wines

  • Walter Dacon Wines 2009 C’est Magnifique Syrah:The 2007 vintage was just awarded 93 points by Wine Spectator and the 2009 vintage is looking to be stellar as well.

Two other barrel tastings were getting rave reviews but they were all gone before I worked my way over to that corner: Sleight of Hand Cellars 2008 The Illusionist Cabernet Sauvignon and the Woodward Canyon 2009 “Old Vines” Cabernet Sauvignon.

Beyond the Barrels

Apolo Ohno

Apolo Ohno autographed Eroica Ice Wine

There was a lot more wine to enjoy than just the barrel samples. Over 65 wineries had wines available for tasting at large tents. In addition, many of those wine makers were roaming the grounds pouring their wines for patrons to enjoy at their picnic.

In addition, there were lots of wines available in the silent auction. Gift boxes of wine, verticals, private tastings, magnums and wines signed by celebrities like Apolo Ohno were just some of the items available to bid upon to benefit the uncompensated program at Children’s  Hospital and the Washington Wine Education Foundation.

Fun and Games

The Auction of Washington Wines Barrel Auction and Picnic puts the fun into fundraising.

Wine Wheel

Nicole takes a spin to win!

  • Restaurant Balloon Pop – $50 gave you the opportunity to pick and pop a balloon from a pretty volunteer. Inside the balloon, a gift certificate to a local restaurant for $50. A win-win option to support Seattle Childrens AND get a great meal!
  • Wine Bottle Ring Toss – $25 gives you three ring tosses and guaranteed bottle of wine. I had a great time watching the volunteer “help” back that guarantee by standing just a couple of feet from the tosser for the third toss.
  • Wine Wheel – $10 gave you a spin on the wheel for your chance for a prize. Prizes ranged from wine coolers to wine bottles to wine books and tickets to the very popular Lamb Jam!


Tulalip Lamb

Tulalip Lamb

What is a picnic without food?

Proscuitto Wrapped Pecan Crusted Chicken

Proscuitto Wrapped Pecan Crusted Chicken

Tulalip Resort and Casino provided a pleasing assortment of foods. I always appreciate Tulalip  cuisine at wine events because they are skilled at crafting tasty tidbits that enhance versus compete with the wines. The dish that was getting the biggest buzz was the Star Anise braised lamb with macademia nut cherry jasmine rice, Thai curry sauce, crispy taro green papaya salad.  Boldly flavored but not to the point where it overwhelmed the wines, this dish was amazing paired, especially with the Merlots and Syrahs.

Wait there is more…

The Barrel Auction and Winemaker Picnic starts off a grand weekend of wine and fundraising. Tonight’s AWW Wine Makers dinners have sold out but there are two more events this weekend.