By Karla Erovick | Published December 2016 wine blog

Oregon’s Willamette Valley, famous for Pinot Noir, concluded their annual fund raiser, iSalud! with $911,300.00 to provide healthcare for season vineyard workers. If there were an Olympics for Pinot Noir, it might look something like these iSalud! festivities.

At the Big Board Auction wineries create their best Pinot Noir blend. This year 45 wineries were chosen to participate. Each created their best cuvée from the 2015 vintage. The five- case limited production wine was offered for sampling with the hope that each would sell out.

The money raised provides preventative healthcare for seasonal vineyard workers. This is a chance to chat with the winemakers of these special blends. Winemakers and wine industry people mix, mingle, swirl, and sip these one of a kind Pinot Noir blends. You might think that there would not be much variation from this small wine region, but you would be wrong.

Winemakers got creative using field blends, whole cluster fermentation, and choosing the best of their single vineyard blocks, from different AVA’s to create their distinctive blend. Cuvées included a range of Pinot Noir clones, mostly Dijon and Pommard, from differing soil and terroir. These wines are only available through the iSalud Wine Auction which encourages wine enthusiasts to bid big for the pleasure of obtaining their favorite Cuvée.

As the evening progressed, the “Big Board” depicts the current bid and what is still available for bidding. It is great fun to anticipate which wine will be the first to sell out. This year it was Domaine Drouhin with their Burgundian style, earthy yet approachable and age-worthy.

As in any celebration, the final night included a gala event and auction with wine industry people dressing to the nines for an evening of food, wine, and camaraderie. The auction raised big bucks with the big-ticket items offering once-in-a-lifetime wine experiences…

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