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Weekend auctions in Washington wine country: Nearly $1M for FareStart & $130K for Entwine

Posted in Marketing, Non-profits, Wineries

Reynvaan wine, washington wine, FareStart

A quick report on last week’s post about auction season in Washington wine country.

The FareStart auction had a big night on Sunday. The annual gala raised more than $906,000 for the Seattle non-profit that helps homeless and disadvantaged individuals by training them for the food service and hospitality industries. More than half of the total came during the paddle call, an astonishing 15 minutes or so that generated more than $422,000!

The wine section of the silent auction featured more than 75 lots, many of them from some of Washington’s most high-profile wineries. I focused my attention on large format bottles (despite the growing belief that these bottles are just auction candy) and picked up some beauties – a 2009 double magnum (3L) of Reynvaan’s sublime ‘In The Rocks’ Syrah (right) and a pair of magnums (1.5L) made by Chuck Reininger in Walla Walla, one filled with his ’07 Carmenere and the other with a seductive ’03 Bordeaux blend called Desiderata.

The matched pair of magnums from Cayuse, including a ’09 Impulsivo Tempranillo, quickly jumped out of my budget range… sigh!

For the first time since we’ve been attending the FareStart auction, a Washington winery hosted a tasting table during the silent auction reception. FIGGINS and Doubleback poured their ’09 blend and ’09 Cab, respectively. Beautiful wines, and the table was crowded throughout the reception. The FareStart crowd is a well-heeled, wine-loving bunch and this is great exposure – I wonder if other Washington wineries will try to jump on this next year.

Over in Walla Walla on Saturday night, Entwine raised more than $130,000 to benefit educational initiatives at Walla Walla Community College, including the Center for Enology and Viticulture and the school’s prestigious culinary program.

One of the evening’s highlights was watching the students in action, said Doug Bayne, WWCC’s director of resource development. “It was very rewarding for those of us at the college to see students from our culinary and arts programs and E&V center for transforming the Dietrich Dome into a festive setting and delivering a gourmet meal with world-class wines for 280 guests.”

Another highlight was the excellent video produced by WWCC students that profiled graduates from the school’s E&V program and culinary program. When the video ended, you could have heard a pin drop in the room, Bayne said. Cue the paddle call!

… a peek into Washington wine heaven for large-format geeks

Of course, no wine auction is complete without wine. Three lots that caught my eye from the Entwine bid book:

FIGGINS Estate Package: Etched magnums of Leonetti merlot and FIGGINS Estate red, plus 25 lbs. of natural grass-fed beef from Figgins Family’s Lostine Cattle Company and a spot on the Leonetti allocation list. Lostine & Leonetti – it’s what’s for dinner!

Cayuse Winery Package: An etched, signed and waxed 3L of 2010 Callioux Vineyard Syrah, plus a spot on the Cayuse allocation list.

Entwine Advisory Board package of Large Format bottles: This one was a peek into Washington wine heaven for large-format geeks. A collection of eight Jeroboams from Ensemble Cellars, FIGGINS, L’Ecole, Leonetti, Pepper Bridge, Rulo, Walla Walla Vintners and Woodward Canyon. Add 50 pounds of chips and dip, and you’ve got yourself a helluva party.

As I said last week, this is the best small-market wine auction in the U.S., largely because it reflects the friendly, inclusive nature of Walla Walla and its burgeoning wine community. The bad news: We couldn’t attend this year. The good news: We have it penciled in for 2013.