KAREN MACNEIL, Wine Speed, The Wine Bible
“For many years, Washington was considered an ‘emerging wine region. But as wine professionals know, the state has soared way beyond that. In the last few years, the sheer number of exciting wines coming out of Washington has solidified its place as one of the great American wine regions.”
Karen MacNeil is a speaker, consultant and author, and is the only American to have won nearly every major wine award given in the English language. These include the Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year (James Beard Foundation) and the Global Wine Communicator of the Year (International Wine and Spirits Association). In a full-page profile on her, TIME Magazine called Karen “America’s Missionary of the Vine.”
But deep global wine knowledge is only part of the story. Karen is considered America’s foremost wine presenter, to wine novices and wine collectors alike. Her customized TED-like talks are accompanied by extraordinary wines which she personally selects for the event.
Karen is also the author of the award-winning book, THE WINE BIBLE, the single best- selling wine book in the United States, praised as “The most informative and entertaining book I’ve ever seen on the subject” (Danny Meyer), “Astounding” (Thomas Keller), and “A masterpiece of wine writing…the single best wine book written in years…” (Kevin Zraly).
The former wine correspondent for the Today Show, Karen was the host of the PBS series Wine, Food and Friends with Karen MacNeil, for which she won an Emmy. Karen is the creator and editor of WineSpeed, the leading digital “e-letter” for fast, authoritative information about wine. Her articles on wine and food have been published in more than 50 newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Town & Country, and Elle. She was the first Food and Wine Editor of USA Today. Karen currently hosts #SipWithKaren, the leading Twitter tasting in the global wine sphere, which each month reaches 20+ million timelines from Indiana to India.
Karen’s firm, Karen MacNeil & Company, creates customized corporate events and wine tours around the world for companies and individual groups. She is the creator and Chairman Emeritus of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley, which has been called “the Harvard of wine education.”
Marie-Eve Gilla, Valdemar Estates
“It is a great honor to be chosen by my peers to be Honorary Vintner. Being from the old world where things move slower, I have immensely enjoyed the epic growth of the Washington wine community. I am proud of what the state has accomplished and the caliber of wines now being produced. Our success is underscored by the interest of foreign wineries such as Valdemar, a five generations family owned winery from Rioja, who built a state-of-the-art winemaking facility in Walla Walla in 2018.”
Marie-Eve was born in Burgundy and raised near Paris and she fell in love with the pastoral lifestyle while working summers on the farm. She earned her Double Masters in Enology and Viticulture at the University of Dijon, gaining practical training in the wineries and vineyards of Burgundy.
Arriving in the United States in 1991, she worked at various wineries including Argyle, Covey Run, and Hogue. Intending to stay for just a few months, she realized the incredible potential of the Northwest wine industry. In 1999, she married her compatriot Gilles Nicault, now Director of Winemaking at Long Shadows. They moved to Walla Walla in 2001, where Marie-Eve became Forgeron Cellars’ founding winemaker. In 2018, she joined Valdemar Estates.
Believing firmly that great wines are made in the vineyard, Marie-Eve sources grapes from established vineyards in the Red Mountain and Walla Walla A.V.A to craft her wines. Working in a boutique winery allows her to focus on quality by keeping each vineyard lot separate. This gives each wine the ability to express its full potential. In the cellar, Marie-Eve primarily uses French oak, with moderate toast levels for both fermentation and aging. She has successfully adapted her Burgundian winemaking influences to the riper fruit found in Eastern Washington. For example, while making Chardonnay, she periodically stirs the lees to increase mouth feel for a mineral, yet full-bodied and well-balanced, wine. She does not inoculate for malolactic fermentation, therefore she retains natural freshness and pure flavors. She also uses a minimal intervention approach to craft age-worthy reds of great complexity that showcase the beautiful fruit flavors of Washington state.
2020/21 Honorary Grower
“I am humbled to be recognized by leaders in the Washington Wine Industry. This honor really belongs to my team, they have worked hard and worked smart to create high quality fruit we are proud to say is from Washington State and competes at the highest level with other world class fruit growing regions.”
Rob Mercer was born and raised in Prosser and the Horse Heaven Hills area. His family settled there in 1886 and have been working the rugged soils of this high desert plateau for over a century. Rob’s aunt and uncle planted the first wine grapes in the Horse Heaven Hills in 1972 with the advice of Dr. Walter Clore. Today the Mercer team grows over 25 varieties of wine grapes over 3,000 acres in the Horse Heaven Hills and Columbia Valley AVAs.
Rob’s education started at Washington State University, followed by a 6-year career in the US Marine Corps. After a brief return to the family farm, Rob earned an EMBA degree from the University of Washington in 2000, before returning to the US Marine Corps Reserves from 2007 to 2013, serving in Iraq in 2008.
Rob and his team believe that the Horse Heaven Hill’s terroir creates a beautiful and uniquely identifiable wine style, that builds the overall quality and value of Washington state wines. With the help of talented viticulturists and an excellent winemaking team, Rob enjoys growing grapes and producing wines while strongly supporting the industry and the future of Washington wine.
Mercer Ranches has grown wine grapes for a multitude of wineries in Washington state, the largest being St. Michelle and Mercer Estates. He served six years with the Washington Wine Commission, and the family supports the Walter Clore Center and the Washington State University Wine Science Center.
Rob considers himself an “agriculturist” and is focused on ensuring that the best environmental and sustainability practices are utilized on the farm and in the winery, today and into the future. “We are stewards of the land, caring for and enhancing its’ environmental and social value, always striving to provide a life more abundant for all,” says Mercer.
Robert M. Parker, Jr.
W. Phillip Woodward
Chris and Kelly Sparkman
Hedges Family Estate
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Bob Betz, MW
Women in Wine
Mike & Gary Hogue
Dick and Wendy Shaw
Dr. Wade Wolfe
Bill Den Hoed
Mike & Gary Hogue
2200 6th Ave Suite 411
Seattle, WA 98121
The Auction of Washington Wines is committed to supporting the growth and awareness of the Washington state wine industry through a series of celebrated events benefiting the community.