Oregon Pinot Noir competition raises nearly $1 Million for healthcare
By: Karla Erovick
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 such as a week-long trip to France and VIP weekend experience at Domaine Serene donated by Ken and Grace Evenstad and Château de la Crée, and a week-long New Zealand excursion donated by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Villa Maria.
iSalud! is celebrating the 25th Anniversary and since its founding has raised over $13 million. It was started by a handful of visionary wineries realizing that their success in producing wine was made possible by the labor of the seasonal vineyard workers. Through the work of iSaulud! and partnership with Tuality Healthcare, they provide $3 of services for every $1 raised. The mobile healthcare units, think bookmobiles for healthcare, visit wineries and vineyards to deliver their services.
Raptor Ridge 2015 iSalud! Cuvée (pictured)
A 50/50 blend of Dijon clones from the Olenik (Chehalem Mountains AVA) and Crawford Beck (Eola Amity AVA) vineyards with aromas of dark fruit and earthiness with rich flavors of blackberry, tea, and a hint of forest floor on the palate with a lingering finish.
Karla Erovick is a wine writer living in the Willamette Valley. She is a fan of cool climate Pinot Noir and all things sparkling.
Karla Erovick is a wine and travel writer living in Oregon. She enjoys traveling to global and local wine regions. Her over 500 articles have appeared in JetsetExtra.com, Examiner.com, Tangodiva.com, Napa Valley Life Magazine, and Wild Blue Yonder Flight Magazine. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @IntnlGal.