SANTA ROSA, CA (May 10, 2023) – Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) is pleased to announce this year’s results from the ninth annual Sonoma County Barrel Auction (SoCoBA) presented by American AgCredit and held in person at MacMurray Estate Vineyards on Friday, May 5, 2023. These “never before, never again” wines showcasing the spectacular diversity of Sonoma County’s wine region raised over $535,000 for SCV’s marketing programs and initiatives that support the wine trade and community. The auction featured 66 unique barrel lots ranging from 5 to 20 cases from 76 participating Sonoma County vintners.
Over 320 guests attended SoCoBA, including participating vintners, trade, media, community leaders and sponsor partners. Trade guests attended from across the United States and around the globe, with international attendees from China, Japan, Norway and South Korea.
“I thought when I came here that it would be something very commercial,” said Sunny Cho with Bottle Shock Wine Importers in South Korea, part of a delegation attending SCV’s week-long international Sonoma Summit leading up to SoCoBA. “When I went to the preview event, it was totally different. Many wineries have collaborated together and are making special wines just for the Sonoma County Barrel Auction. They are so lovely! And everyone knows each other. That vibe taught me how Sonoma County works and I will explain this wonderful journey to my customers, team members and subscribers.”
That spirit of collaboration resulted in the highest selling barrel auction lot of the day, a 2022 Pinot Noir from Williams Selyem, Rochioli Vineyards and Winery, and Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery named “The Legend: Joe Rochioli, Jr.” The 20-case lot sold for $51,000 and honors the late Sonoma County winemaking pioneer with a wine made from the historic Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard he farmed for decades.
Rounding out the top three lots, the 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon Blend “The Pick of the Bunch” 20-case lot from Silver Oak sold for $45,000 and the 2022 Pinot Noir “The Duel” 10-case lot from Kosta Browne was purchased for $22,000. The highest selling white wine lot of the day was the 20-case, 2022 “Chardonnay Legends” from Rombauer Vineyards at $19,000.
Before the bidding started, this year’s Sonoma County Barrel Auction Honorees were recognized and shared their remarks. Congressmen Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman were among those who celebrated the honorees and presented them with a special congressional proclamation recognizing their achievements. “You do a fantastic job, not only making wine, but with all of the philanthropic effort that you put back into the community,” said Congressman Thompson.
Julianna Martinelli, Owner of Martinelli Vineyards, introduced her parents, Carolyn and Lee Sr., as this year’s SoCoBA Icons. “My parents gave me and my siblings the very best childhood. One of our favorite things to do would be to go out to the vineyard at dusk and get into grape fights. One time we were out there throwing grapes at each other, and my father came running down our driveway and he was furious! I just couldn’t understand that. It wasn’t until I grew up and went into the family business that I realized that money grows on trees in our family.”
Lee Martinelli Sr. then took the stage to accept the award for he and his wife, Carolyn. “I’d like to thank the vineyard workers, the dedicated winemaking staff, the tasting room and administration personnel, and everyone who has contributed to helping run our family business,” said Lee Martinelli Sr. “It’s a blessing to have our children, the fourth generation, to have equal ownership with Carolyn and I in our business.
Stephanie Wycoff, General Manager at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery, introduced this year’s SoCoBA Innovator, Theresa Heredia, Director of Winemaking at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery. “Theresa demonstrates innovative leadership at Gary Farrell and in the broader wine industry as a champion for increasing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the grape and wine industry.”
Theresa Heredia accepted the SoCoBA Innovator award and expanded on championing DEI in the industry. “We represent the diversity in the vineyards, diversity from the soil, from the weather, from our climate, so now we’re moving into a different philosophy when it comes to diversity. I didn’t grow up seeing people like myself who were winemakers. And I didn’t have access to wine education where I grew up. Let’s work together to create entry points for more people. Let’s start here in Sonoma County and let’s do this together.”
Carmen Castaldi, President of Rodney Strong Vineyards, then introduced this year’s SoCoBA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Tom Klein, Proprietor of Rodney Strong Vineyards. “Tom was a proponent of sustainability years before it was fashionable,” said Castaldi. “He insisted that all of our vineyards and our winery be certified sustainable from the very beginning. And so, Rodney Strong was the first carbon neutral winery in Sonoma County. In 2003 we installed the largest solar array of any winery in the world at the time and today this provides 50% of all of our electrical needs.”
Tom Klein took the stage, thanking Sonoma County Vintners for this honor and recounting how he had been mentored by Rod Strong and how the winery was acquired. “Thirty-four years ago my family and I purchased Rodney Strong Vineyards. I had spent a lot of time with Rod and got to know the winery very, very well before that,” said Klein. “Rod Strong was correct that Sonoma County is a place where you can plant at least a dozen different grape varieties. Find the right terroir, find the right sites and the right location, and grow every wine in the world. The best wines of the world can be made all in Sonoma County.”
The in-person auction events kicked off with an all-inclusive lot tasting preview event on May 4 at Bacchus Landing. The event offered trade buyers the opportunity to speak with the vintners, taste barrel samples and learn more about the auction lots before the live auction the following day.
Proceeds raised from the Sonoma County Barrel Auction assist in creating Sonoma County Vintners marketing programs and initiatives that support the wine trade and community.
Save the date for next year’s 10th anniversary SoCoBA planned for May 2-3, 2024!
Sonoma County Vintners is the leading voice of Sonoma County wine, dedicated to raising awareness of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier wine regions. Sonoma County Vintners represents over 250 wineries throughout the county. The organization actively promotes Sonoma County through educational programming; advocates for its members at local, state and federal levels; and contributes to the local communities through our Sonoma County Vintners Foundation. Sonoma County Wine Auction, its annual fundraiser, benefits non-profit organizations throughout the region. To learn more about Sonoma County Vintners, visit SonomaWine.com.
About American AgCredit
American AgCredit was chartered in 1916 as part of the nationwide Farm Credit System and is the nation’s fourth-largest Farm Credit association. American AgCredit specializes in providing financial services to agricultural and rural customers in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada and Oklahoma, and serves capital market customers throughout the United States. Financial services provided by American AgCredit include production and mortgage financing, equipment and vehicle leasing, crop and life insurance, lines of credit, and the Young, Beginning and Small Farmer Program. In addition, the Association provides interest-free loans for qualifying 4-H and FFA AgYouth programs, as well as college scholarships to young people interested in agriculture. Learn more at www.AgLoan.com.
About Bacchus Landing
Founded by siblings Monica and Francisco Lopez, along with their parents Al and Dina, Bacchus Landing is a curated collective of wineries representing a diverse spectrum of grape varieties and winemaking styles. It is located in the heart of Healdsburg at the crossroads of three of Sonoma County’s premier wine regions. Designed to reflect the Lopez family’s deep-seated passion for hosting family and friends, Bacchus Landing welcomes guests to come and stay the day, offering a relaxing escape from everyday life. The three-acre property boasts five spacious, open-air tasting rooms, an artisanal food market serving local wine-friendly bites, a more casual green space with picnic tables and bocce courts, a central piazza with café tables, a full commercial kitchen, and a variety of spaces for corporate meetings and events. For more information, please visit BacchusLanding.com.
About MacMurray Estate Vineyards
With vineyards in California’s most sought-after Pinot Noir regions, MacMurray Estate Vineyards is synonymous with one of the world’s most celebrated grape varieties. We grow our grapes where Pinot Noir thrives — in the Russian River Valley and the Central Coast. By carefully tending to each vineyard block and making discerning choices in the cellar, we create wines that reflect the unique terroir of each estate vineyard while showcasing the elegant flavors of the delicate Pinot Noir grape. Our namesake in the Russian River Valley, the 1,500-acre MacMurray Ranch, has a rich farming history that stretches back to the early 1850s. In 1941, actor Fred MacMurray bought the ranch as an idyllic family retreat and cattle ranch. In 1996, MacMurray Ranch was transformed to include a world-class vineyard with 450 acres of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris vines, ushering in a new era for the legendary Sonoma County property. Learn more at MacMurrayEstateVineyards.com.
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