The 31st annual Auction of Washington Wines surpassed expectations by raising more than $4.3 million to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital and Washington State University's viticulture and enology program—thanks in large part to a record number of winemakers at the Aug. 18 gala and to its new "Kids who Give" theme.
"There was such an air of enthusiasm and excitement in the room," auction executive director Shelley Tomberg told Wine Spectator.
The 760 guests at the gala drew inspiration from Seattle Children's Hospital patients like Makenna Schwab who, during the event's raise-the-paddle portion, raised $800,000 by auctioning off her Make-a-Wish gift—a trip to the Jurassic World set and a meet-and-greet with actor Chris Pratt—to benefit other young patients. "Presentations in person from the children patients of Seattle Children's Hospital were a super personal touch," said wine collector and donor Hank Sauer.
More than 80 wineries participated at the opening private barrel auction and the main live auction gala. Bids raised more than $2.7 million, including the highest-selling lot in the auction's history: a three-couple trip to visit some of Bordeaux's best, including Château Haut-Brion and Château Lafite Rothschild, which sold for $160,000.
The lot was donated by DeLille Cellars. "It was a great honor to achieve the highest single-selling auction lot in the history of the Auction of Washington Wines, and, more importantly, to make a significant impact for Seattle Children's Hospital," said DeLille Cellars CEO Tom Dugan. "The auction means so much to DeLille Cellars and the Washington State wine community."
Other top lots included "Cayuse Comes of Age," a collection of 10 three-liter bottles donated by Christophe Baron from his three wineries, including eight from Cayuse. The collection sold for $37,500. The "Betz Night Ever" lot offered a tasting of Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year across a decade, starting with the 2007 winner, Clos des Pape Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005, and ending with the 2017 winner, Duckhorn Merlot Napa Valley Three Palms Vineyard 2014. The lot, donated by Betz Family Winery founder Bob Betz, sold for $39,000. Betz will also moderate the tasting for the winning bidder.
"The auction lots were unparalleled from previous auctions," said Betz. "I wanted to bid on most of the items."
Want to get the latest news on collectible wines and the auction market? Sign up for Wine Spectator's free Collecting e-mail newsletter and get a new top-rated wine review, collecting Q&As and more, delivered straight to your inbox every other week!