Auction of Washington Wines (AWW) celebrated its 35th year by raising $4 million for Seattle Children's Hospital, the Washington State University Viticulture and Enology program and industry grant partner Vital Wines, which is "dedicated to ensuring vineyard and winery workers are recognized, valued, and have access to healthcare and other important resources." After going virtual for two years, most events—including the gala auction, winemaker picnic and barrel auction, and Toast!, a celebration of longtime and up-and-coming Washington wine industry leaders—were held in person on the grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle.
"For our 35th annual gala, we had the added bonus of being able to gather again in one large tent, and the energy in the room was palpable," Laura Kleinhofs, AWW associate director, told Wine Spectator. This year's festivities, which were held the second week of August, brought AWW's cumulative fundraising total to over $59 million.
The live auction gala raised more than $1.03 million. The top lot, which sold for $250,000, was "Best of Bordeaux," a five-night trip to some of the region's best wineries with DeLille Cellars founding winemaker Chris Upchurch. The next highest-selling lot, "Antinori Classico," also combined luxury travel and wine, offering two trips to the Antinori family vineyards in Tuscany to "discover the roots of Col Solare," the Red Mountain winemaking partnership between Antinori and Chateau Ste. Michelle.
Another experiential lot included VIP winery tours at Melka Estates and Quintessa. As in other recent auctions, large-format bottles proved popular in the wine-only lots, one of which included 10 double magnums of Cayuse wines and sold for $12,000.
A whimsical, wine-related lot generated some of the most frenzied bidding of the evening: Numbers 00002 through 00006 of the newly designed Washington Wine license plates, which were recently approved after three years of lobbying and won't be available to the public until November, garnered $35,000.
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