Now $45 million and still counting

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AWW Picnic.jpg

Winemaker picnic on the grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle. © Curbow Photography

The Auction of Washington Wines started in 1988 as a modest fund-raiser to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital (an "untouchable" charity with strong links to the local community), an obvious copy-cat of the Napa Valley auction begun in 1981 to add glitz and glamour to the humdrum business of making and selling premium wine.

Over the years, the Auction got increasingly elegant, with private dinners, visiting celebrities, rare lots of trophy wines, a garden-party picnic. Seattle had a reputation of being a cheapskate town; even well-heeled people who could afford expensive tickets would go to charity auctions and brag about picking up "great deals." That began to change with the Auction of Washington Wines; here, the bidders were increasingly willing to go higher and higher, and even overpay because "it's for a good cause."

Most important: the focus shifted five years ago toward a second beneficiary, WSU's wine education center in Walla Walla. In 2017, the auction and related events raised over $4 million,

Four years ago, a new event was created: the Private Barrel Auction. This year it raised an additional quarter-million dollars. It doesn't hurt that a new class of professional auctioneers (most notably Ursula Hermacinski) has come on the scene.

And the 2018 Auction, at Chateau Ste. Michelle this past weekend, raised another $4.1 million. So the running total is $45 million, which puts the Washington auction in the top three or four nationally.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on August 20, 2018 5:30 PM.

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