Sonoma County Barrel Auction 2024 Highlights

10th anniversary of Sonoma County Vintners event showcases exclusive Chardonnays, Pinots, Cabernets, and other wines.

Sonoma County Vintners members presented their “one-of-a-kind” / “never before, never again” special lots to the trade and other interested parties at the 2024 Sonoma County Barrel Auction preview event, May 2nd at Bacchus Landing, and the real deal, May 3rd at MacMurray Ranch. Most wineries also poured current-release wines; over half brought out older library vintages. From two recent social media posts, a mashup of personal highlights follows. The lead photo is of vintner Clay Mauritson of Mauritson Wines.

Bacchus Preview Event

Winemaker Emma Kudritzki Hall pours the potent 2023 Mauritson Wines “1868” Campground Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (structure for days) from the Rockpile AVA.
Mike Thompson of Thompson31Fifty Wines holds a Pinot Noir, though his auction lot was the “3 Block Chardonnay” from a trio of Russian River Valley vineyards.
The always photogenic Emily Martin / The JetSetting Fashionista, with her Gucci but not Ernie her poochie.
Three-winery, multigenerational collaboration “Heirloom” Chardonnay from Rochioli Vineyards, Bacigalupi Vineyards, and Ramey Wine Cellars. From left, Ryan Rochioli, Nicole Bacigalupi, Rachel Rochioli, Alan Ramey.
Winemaker Craig Ploof of Nottingham Cellars, whose “Embrace the Franc” offering was Cabernet Franc from Moon Mountain and Sonoma Valley fruit.
Cameron Fisher and winemaker Adam Goodrich of Fisher Vineyards – she’s holding a 2016 Cab that was ever so pretty; the “High Elevation Heritage” auction wine was a 2022 Chardonnay.
Vintner Erin Brooks of Ernest Vineyards continued the string of beautifully crafted Chardonnays with “Edge of the World” from Joyce Vineyard (West Sonoma Coast).
Brandon Muller (left) and Gregory Roberts of Brandon Gregory Estate poured the luscious “The Journey” Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend from Brookshire Vineyard in Knights Valley.
Assistant winemaker Reid Kinnett (left) at Brooks Note Winery piqued my interest in this small Petaluma Gap producer with the “Ash and Wind” Pinot Noir from grower Jay Sweet of Sweet Family Vineyards.
Four additional favorites, all Pinot Noir, were poured (clockwise from top left) by assistant winemaker Neely Ashley (Peay Vineyards), winemaker David Hejl (Domaine Della), GM Sally Srok (Arista Winery) — the wine she’s holding is a collaboration with winemaker Rod Berglund of Joseph Swan Vineyards — and GM Melanie Schafer (Gloria Ferrer Winery), whose delightful zero-dosage (no added sugar) sparkler was 92% PN.

MacMurray Ranch

Felt in the thick of the action on Friday at MacMurray Ranch, where the 63rd and final lot, from Silver Oak, netted the Sonoma County Barrel Auction’s highest sum after a tense bidding war.

2022 Silver Oak “Legacy” Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Winemaker Dan Kemp of Silver Oak crafted 20 cases of the wine exclusively for the auction’s 10th anniversary.
Along with Penny Haase (left) and Sarah Wetzel Murphy of Alexander Valley Vineyards – Sarah’s family’s winery will produce its 50th vintage in 2024 – Dan and two other illustrious winemakers sat at our table, Julien Howsepian of Kosta Browne and Justin Hirigoyen of Twomey.
Kami Banks Kane, also at our table, placed the winning bids on two lots, one of them Kosta Browne’s “Green Valley Cuvée” Pinot Noir, with grapes from three top vineyards: Treehouse, Keefer, and Giusti. The motto at Banks Wines & Spirits, Kami’s Delaware store, is #EverythingIsBetterAtBanks. This will certainly be true come summer 2025 when her 10 cases arrive.
The day’s honorees included Zelma Long (top, lifetime achievement), George Christie (of Wine Industry Network, innovator), and Marimar Torres (of Marimar Estate, icon). Like many attendees, I’ve always had a soft spot for Zelma Long, in my case, for encouraging words from her early in my wine journey. (Photos courtesy of Sonoma County Vintners.)
Not five minutes after I arrived, Theresa Heredia, the winemaker at Gary Farrell Winery for a dozen years, said she was going into business on her own. Gary Farrell is Heredia Wine Consulting’s first client, but one of the county’s great talents will be taking on a few more.
Last images are of four library favorites. All the wines, including the 2014 Laurel Glen Cab Bettina Sichel (top right) is holding, appear to be still available for sale. Mari Jones (bottom left) of Emeritus Vineyards poured a 2016 Hallberg Ranch Pinot.
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