Seattle Children’s Hospital Programs Supported by AWW

Seattle Children’s Hospital Programs Supported by AWW

Since the Auction of Washington Wines began in 1988, more than $17 million has been contributed to Seattle Children’s Hospital to go towards Uncompensated Care, Autism, and Cancer Clinical Trials. Take a peek at this video to hear from families who have received support from Children’s.

WSU Research

WSU Research Projects funded by Auction of Washington Wines Donation

Barnyard Bordeaux

Research supported by Auction of Washington Wines helps avoid wine spoilage.

Sweaty gym socks, rancid cheese, horse stables, barnyards or Band-Aid smells. Not enticing aromas for a bottle of wine you just uncorked. Years ago, wine spoilage was sometimes an issue for Washington’s young wine industry. It’s rarely a problem anymore, due in part to the longstanding support of research by the Auction of Washington Wines.

Dr. Charles Edwards, food scientist and wine microbiologist for Washington State University, teaches wine classes as part of WSU’s Viticulture and Enology program. In addition, for more than two decades, he has focused research on alcoholic fermentations and spoilage microorganisms of concern to winemakers, including Brettanomyces, a wild yeast that poses major threat to red wine quality. Commonly called Brett, the yeast can produce sensory compounds that alter the palate and bouquet of wine. If you’ve ever heard a wine called “Barnyard Bordeaux,” it wasn’t given as a compliment.

Yeasts are needed in winemaking to convert the grape sugars into alcohol—they’re the reason the end product is wine and not grape juice. Many types of yeast live on the skins of fruit, including Brett. In small doses, native yeasts can be beneficial. Some winemakers purposely encourage the growth of wild yeasts as a way to improve mouth feel and provide unique and desirable sensory qualities. But there’s a risk to wine quality if undesirable yeasts, like Brett, take over and dominate fermentations. Brett is most associated with barrel aged red wines.

By better understanding how Brett grows in wine, Edwards was able to develop recommendations to help wineries limit spoilage situations. He currently has a barrel trial underway in which he’s taking Brett-contaminated barrels apart to learn the depth of wood penetration by the microorganism and determine the most effective method of barrel sterilization.

The research program of Edwards has helped Washington winemakers improve wine quality and spare countless wines from becoming Barnyard Bordeaux.

Melissa Hansen
Research Program Manager

Featured Video: Norm McKibben and Jean-François Pellet of Pepper Bridge Winery

Catch up with Norm McKibben and Jean-François Pellet of Pepper Bridge Winery as they discuss the start of the vineyard and winery, and growth of Walla Walla. Hear their thoughts about the great work being done by our beneficiaries, and excitement about the future of the Auction of Washington Wines.

WSU Research Projects funded by Auction of Washington Wines Donation

Auction of Washington Wines donation will help fund 13 research projects led by WSU scientists

The Auction of Washington Wines’ financial support of viticulture and enology research can be likened to the relationship between venture capitalists and startup tech companies. New startups have potential to change the world (think Google and Facebook), while viticulture and enology research has potential to change the wine world.

The Auction of Washington Wines (AWW), with its recent $200,000 donation to Washington’s grape and wine research program, is the largest non-governmental contributor and represents more than 20 percent of the program’s budget. The donation will help fund 13 projects in 2016-17, projects led by Washington State University scientists totaling nearly $870,000. The research includes a variety of topics including irrigation efficiency, optimal soil health, technologies to combat insects and diseases, wine spoilage, native yeasts and fermentation, and studying smoke taint in wines.

This contribution serves as seed money and allows the wine industry to fund a mix of projects—tried and true and proof of concept. Though the majority of the research budget is dedicated to solving current issues like pests and diseases and improving wine quality, the Auction’s research contribution provides additional monies to help the wine industry stay on the cutting edge vineyard and winery technology.

An example of the importance of the seed money is research currently funded by AWW exploring an innovative way of delivering irrigation water to vine roots through underground tubes. The revolutionary concept has potential to improve irrigation efficiency by reducing evaporation and weed growth under vine rows and helping stretch dwindling water supplies.

“Viticulture and enology research conducted at Washington State University helps everyone in Washington’s wine industry, from the new winemaker to the experienced grape grower,” said Rick Hamman of Hogue Ranches in Prosser, Washington. Hamman chairs the Wine Research Advisory Committee, a subcommittee of Washington State Wine that annually reviews and recommends funding of grape and wine research. “Research can have significant industry impact and has saved growers millions in reduced vineyard costs while helping winemakers improve wine quality.”

For a complete list of research projects to be funded this year, visit

Melissa Hansen
Research Program Manager
Washington State Wine

2016 Honorary Grower and Vintner Announcement

2016 Honorary Grower and Vintner Announcement

The Auction of Washington Wines is pleased to announce the lineup of honorees for its 29th annual weekend of events August 18-20, 2016. Mike Januik, founder of Januik Winery is Honorary Vintner and Todd Newhouse, founder of Upland Vineyards is Honorary Grower.

“For nearly 30 years, the Auction of Washington Wines has been very fortunate to have such impressive leadership to recognize – and this year is no different,” said Sam Baker, Board President and partner with Oles Morrison Rinker & Baker. “The 2016 honorees are true masters of their craft with deep roots in our state, from forging new wine regions to developing programs and innovations. They have made significant contributions to our industry.”

“This year we honor two individuals who have greatly influenced our industry, from mentoring fellow winemakers to upholding their family’s legacy,” said Norm McKibben of Pepper Bridge Winery and co-chair of this year’s Auction of Washington Wines. “Both Mike and Todd are well-respected and we are thrilled to honor them this year.”

Mike Januik, 2016 Honorary Vintner:

Since his first harvest in the Columbia Valley in 1984, Mike Januik has been at the forefront of Washington wine quality and innovation. One of the most honored winemakers in the state, Washington Wine Report editor Sean Sullivan wrote, “Few in the Washington wine industry can claim the extraordinary level of success that has followed Mike Januik throughout his career.” With literally hundreds of 90+ ratings to his credit, Mike’s wines have appeared on Wine Spectator’s prestigious “Top 100” list a dozen times, and in 2011, Wine & Spirits magazine named Januik “Winery of the Year.”

It is no surprise then that one of the world’s ten “Masters of Merlot,” as Wine Enthusiast magazine deemed him, has also mentored countless rising Washington winemakers, many who worked alongside him during his ten years at Chateau Ste. Michelle. During his time there he established the winery’s single vineyard and reserve programs.

Mike crushed his first grapes under the Januik Winery in 1999, the same year he began consulting on vineyard plantings at Novelty Hill’s estate vineyard Stillwater Creek. It was at Mike’s urging that the vineyard was planted with one of the most innovative clonal selections in the state. He has been making Novelty Hill’s wines since the winery’s first vintage in 2000.

Todd Newhouse, 2016 Honorary Grower:

Todd Newhouse is the latest of a long generation of farmers in the Yakima Valley with a rich history of agriculture. The patriarch of the Yakima Valley Newhouse’s family, Todd’s great-grandfather John Newhouse, first settled in the area and labored in the fields and irrigation canals more than 100 years ago.

After taking over the family business in 2008, Todd filed to name the Snipes Mountain growing region as a distinct American Viticultural Area (AVA). In 2009, the federal government formally recognized the region, thanks to the joint efforts of Todd and Washington State University scientist Joan Davenport. This gave the area and the Newhouse family significant recognition and credence as a thriving AVA in Washington state.

Today, you can find Todd on the farm. He serves as the vineyard manager at Upland Vineyards, where he operates vineyards and orchards on the land once plotted by agricultural visionary W.B. Bridgman in 1917. They grow and produce wine grapes for more than 30 different wineries, from small tasting rooms to some of the largest operations in the state. Todd, along with his wife Amber, own Upland Winery, which was started in 2007.

Todd values the history and legacy of the Washington state wine industry, but also the future. He has served on the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers for several years.

iHeartWashingtonWine Benefit Concert Featuring Andy Grammer

Auction of Washington Wines and 106.1 KISS-FM proudly present “iHeartWashingtonWine” a food, wine and concert event benefiting Seattle Children’s Hospital and Wine Science research at WSU.

iHeartWashingtonWine will feature bites from some of the area’s best local chefs, amazing wines from more than 10 Washington wineries, plus a special live performance by KISS-FM superstar Andy Grammer.

Andy Grammer

Los Angeles-born, New York-raised singer-songwriter Andy Grammer has gone from hustling street performer on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to platinum-selling recording artist. With his 2011 self-titled debut album, Andy became the first male pop star in a decade, since John Mayer in 2002, to reach the Top 10 at Adult Pop Radio on his first two singles, “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me,” certified platinum and gold respectively. Andy’s second album, 2014’s critically acclaimed Magazines or Novels, continues his disarming success with his current single “Honey, I’m Good.” – a clever new twist on the traditional love song – which continues to rack up millions of streams and climb the Billboard Hot 100 while simultaneously hitting #1 on iTunes’ pop.

2.5 Million Dollars Raised-A Record Breaking Year!

Thank you for joining us at the 28th annual Auction of Washington Wines weekend. Because of your generosity, a record breaking $2.5 million was raised to benefit Autism, Cancer Clinical Trials, and Uncompensated Care at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Washington State University Viticulture & Enology Program!

We are grateful for your support and the partnership of so many businesses in our community who make this event happen.

“On behalf of the winemakers and wine grape growers in Washington state and our beneficiaries, thank you!!”

Highlights from our SIP. SAVOR. SWIRL Weekend!

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful summer day, perfect for Red Wine and Rosé at our Picnic & Barrel Auction. The Barrel Auction was one of our best yet,yet – featuring 18 Washington Wineries! The Chef’s of Tulalip Resort Casino dazzled guests once again with a creative menu and over the top presentation including ice cream on demand, salmon on a stick and succulent pig roast.

Although the thunderstorm weather kept us all on our toes, the Winemaker Dinner series, presented by Northern Trust, was simply stunning, with 7 dinners throughout the Puget Sound featuring wines from 19 Washington wineries and the talents of our local Chef community under candlelit tents (or rooms!).

The King 5 news crew including Greg Copeland and Amanda Grace led the pack at the annual Columbia Winery Run/Walk on Saturday Morning. Hundreds of early risers gathered outside of Columbia Winery at 7:30am for the annual 10K Run, 5K Run/Walk and Kid’s Dash.

The Wine Gala was the grand finale, with lots raising as much as $40,000 and special guests such as Steven Hauschka, Honorary Vintner, DeLille Cellars, and Honorary Grower, Dick & Wendy Shaw. It was an evening of honors and over-the-top fundraising. Many thanks to our co-chairs, Marty & Megan Clubb and Frank & Charlene Blethen, for their leadership this past year. Special thanks to Blues Traveler’s John Popper & Ben Wilson for their phenomenal live performance at the end of the night!

Highlights of the top auction items include

  • John Sarich Tribute Dinner- $20,500
  • Barrel of Red Wine! – $16,000
  • Magnificent Melchior of Delille Cellars – $13,000
  • The Ultimate VIP Seahawks Experience-$26,000
  • Chef’s Dinner for 10 with Avennia Winery in the Private Cellar at Staple & Fancy – $17,000
  • Northern Spain Vineyard & Winery Tour with WSU x2! – $50,000
  • Seabourn 7 Day Mediterranean Cruise for Two- $17,500
  • African Safari and Cape Wineland Experience for Two Couples for 7 Nights Compliments of Betz Family Winery- $40,000
  • A Lot to Remember- In Tribute to Eric Dunham- $22,000
  • The Dinner Party of Legends- $19,000
  • Walla Walla Founders Dinner – $12,000

A huge thank you to Rick Duval of Richard Duval Images &  Team Photogenic. Images available to view online here.

Did you taste something you liked? More than 100 wineries in attendance represented some of the best of Washington wines – it’s easy to have found more than one favorite! Click here to visit the complete list of 2015 participating wineries.

2015 Employer Matching Gifts & Paying with Stock:

Does your employer offer a corporate match?
Please remember your donations to the Auction of Washington Wines when thinking about your employer matching gift programs. If your company does match, your gift can be doubled – a huge benefit for Seattle Children’s Hospital and Washington State University’s Viticulture & Enology Program.

How to Pay for your Auction Lots & Raise the Paddle with Stock!
If your cumulative purchase of auction lots and raise the paddle is more than $5,000 you can now pay with a stock transfer to Auction of Washington Wines. As credit cards are run 10 days after the Wine Gala for auction purcahses, you must notify the Auction of Washington Wines office by August 28, 2015 that you will be initiating a stock transfer and for how much of your purchase.

If you have questions or need to contact us to complete your company forms, please call our office at 206.326.5770 or email Melissa Pederson at

Save the Date: Auction Weekend 2016

We hope to see you next year! August 18, 19,  & 20th for another unforgettable Auction of Washington Wines weekend!


The Auction of Washington Wines has raised more than $33.5 million since its inception in 1988! All proceeds benefit Seattle Children’s Hosptial in three major areas: Uncompensated care, Cancer clinical trial, and Autism. Funds also benefit Washington State Univeristy Viticulture & Enology Program.

For more informaiton on these two incredible organizations, please visit our beneficiaries page.

John Popper and Ben Wilson of Blues Traveler to perform at the Winemaker Gala on August 15th!

Just announced! John Popper, known for his unique vocal sound and harmonica skills, and Ben Wilson, the man behind the ivories, will be making their way to the big tent at the Auction of Washington Wines for an exclusive performance on Saturday, August 15th. Blues Traveler released their 12th album, “Blow Up the Moon,” this past April. Tickets to the Winemaker Gala are $500 per person and seating is limited.

Portland El Gaucho Dinner

El Gaucho Hosts DeLille Legacy Winemaker Dinner

Six of Washington State’s Acclaimed Vintners Honor DeLille Cellars’ Chris Upchurch

PORTLAND, OR – June 11, 2015 – On June 10th, El Gaucho Portland was the site for an evening of celebration, reflection and fine wine and cuisine, as six of Washington State’s premier winemakers came together to honor the leadership and innovation of DeLille Cellars and its Co-Founder and Executive Winemaker, Chris Upchurch.

DeLille Cellars has been honored by the Auction of Washington Wines as the 2015 Vintner of the Year. Chris Upchurch mentored and created career-launching opportunities for numerous apprentice winemakers including Chris Peterson of Avennia, Lisa Baer of Baer Winery, Louis Skinner of Betz Winery, Jason Gorski of DeLille Cellars, and Kit Singh of Lauren Ashton Cellars.

“I am frequently asked if I mind that some of our top people have moved on to other wineries,” said Chris Upchurch, Co-Founder and Executive Winemaker, DeLille Cellars. “On the contrary – I am thrilled that DeLille has set the bar for helping create great Washington State winemakers.”

These six vintners joined together with El Gaucho Portland Executive Chef Steve Cain to produce a one of a kind 5-course winemaker dinner event. They were joined by emcee Andy Perdue, noted columnist for the Seattle Times and Auction of Washington Wines 2015 Honorary Chair. 100 guests gathered to toast the leadership of DeLille Cellars, the contributions of Chris Upchurch and savor a special menu paired with exceptional wines.

“El Gaucho was proud to host a spectacular evening celebrating Chris’ and DeLille’s heritage, while raising a glass to the future of the Washington wine industry,” said Chad Mackay, President and COO, El Gaucho Hospitality

The catalyst for this event is the non-profit organization, Auction of Washington Wines, whose mission is to promote Washington wine, while raising money to provide financial support for uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital. The organization also generously invests in viticulture and enology research and education in Washington State and has raised more than $30 million since 1988.

DeLille was named the 2015 Vintner of the Year due to their leadership and the impact they have made on the Washington wine. “Each year the Auction of Washington Wines recognizes a vintner who has shown leadership in our industry, not only through their commitment to produce quality wines that represent our region, but also through their endeavor to educate others about our region,” says Sherri Swingle, Director of the Auction of Washington Wines.

Winemaker Quotes from the El Gaucho Gridiron Blog and Event Photographs Photos of the event are available here. Full text of the quotes are here

Chris Peterson, Avennia
“Chris always wanted to do the best for the wine, and was against compromising quality for any reason. He was also about ‘less is more’ in the cellar. ‘Don’t do things to the wines that you don’t need to,’ he would say. It was pretty hands-off winemaking. If anything, I’ve tried to take that a step further with Avennia, but I gained confidence in the theory there.”

Lisa Baer, Baer Winery

“Woodinville is such a collegial wine community, and Chris has generously fostered the growth of this group of wineries to the benefit of us all.”

Louis Skinner, Betz Winery
“We are kindred spirits, as we both have a background in wine retail sales and have weeded through the vast world of wine, and concentrate only on the very best. The search for the greatest bottles of wine is top priority in our lives, and this carries over into our winemaking philosophies.”

Jason Gorski, DeLille Cellars
“He always dares to be extraordinarily ambitious – he teaches that if we are going to do something, we are going to do it right in every way, and endeavor to be world-class. This spirit is completely contagious.”

Kit Singh, Lauren Ashton Cellars
“Chris taught me that you find an audience for your wine – people that like your style. I respect how Chris has shaped Washington wine and has had an influence on many other wineries that way.”

El Gaucho® is the Northwest’s steakhouse legacy focused on elegant, old-school, tableside service for people celebrating their lives. The menu highlights 28-Day Dry-Aged Certified Angus Beef® brand

Prime steaks and cutting-edge fresh seafood selections, all prepared in the wide open exhibition kitchen over flaming charcoal grills. Visit the legendary steakhouse in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, or Portland. Enjoy fresh seafood and panoramic views of Seattle’s waterfront at the steakhouse’s sister restaurant, AQUA by El Gaucho.

For overnight accommodations, visit the Inn at El Gaucho, located directly above El Gaucho Seattle in bustling Belltown.

For more information, please visit ###

Media Contact:

Beth Herrell Silverberg 206-352-1450 x177

Calling All Florida Friends

Auction of Washington Wines is headed south to make new friends and share some great wines. If you are in the area, please join us at two upcoming private events.

Reidel Tasting to be held at Boca Woods Country Club on Tuesday, April 28th at 7:00pm hosted by Tom and Teri Ferraro. Taste Erath Pinot Noir and special wines from J. Bookwalter Winery and take home your own set of Reidels.

Wine Dinner at Shula’s in Miami Lakes on Wednesday, April 29th at 6:30pm, featuring J. Bookwalter Winery. Limited seating is available. Tickets are $100 per person and reservations can be made by emailing or calling 305.820.8136.

We look forward to seeing you there!


2200 6th Ave Suite 411
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 741-0212


The Northwest Wine Benefit Foundation, DBA 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 our community. We have raised over $59 million since our inception in 1988. 

The Auction of Washington Wines is an equal opportunity employer and prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or familial status.

OUR newsletter

Website by

Photos courtesy of Duval Images & Curbow Photo
© 2008-2023 Auction of Washington Wines
Read our Privacy Policy