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History of DeLille Cellars & The Auction of Washington Wines

August is an exciting month for wineries state-wide, marking the second Washington wine month of the year (aptly named WAugust) and the beginning of the harvest season. Additionally, The Auction of Washington Wines hosts a series of events throughout the month:

  • TOAST! Honoree Celebration: An evening of fine Washington wines paired with a multi-course dinner prepared by El Gaucho alongside a presentation of the 2023 award winners
  • Winemaker Picnic & Barrel Auction: An opportunity to meet winemakers, taste over 100 wines at tasting bars, and bid on wine from over 30 producers in the barrel
  • Gala Auction: The Auction of Washington Wines’ quintessential fundraising event

Since its inception in 1988, the auction has raised over $59 million supporting the Washington wine industry and local organizations such as Seattle Children’s Hospital. DeLille Cellars is proud to have been involved with the Auction of Washington Wines since 1994 and share our involvement in the history of this event.

1994 Auction

Just two years after the winery’s inception in 1992, DeLille Cellars was proud to contribute to two lots at the 1994 Auction of Washington Wines (previously known as the Auction of Northwest Wines). 

The ‘Woodinville / Europe Connection’ auction lot featured the following items: 

  • One 5-liter bottle of 1992 Chaleur Estate, sand-carved and 23-karat gold engraved by Fresh Northwest Design
  • One 5-liter bottle of a “first ever” marriage of Italian Sangiovese from Paolo Toscano and Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon, blended by DeLille Cellars Founding Winemaker Chris Upchurch
  • Lamb dinner for eight people at Chateau Lill
  • Four roundtrip tickets to Milan, Italy
  • VIP tour of the LA Gioosia SpA winery in Treviso, Veneto region
  • Arrangements made through La Gioisa USA for VIP visits to wineries in Tuscany

An additional lot featured a compilation of 18 magnums from northwest wineries including DeLille Cellars, Chateau Ste Michelle, L’Ecole, Leonetti, Quilceda Creek, and more.

2001 Auction

18-Liter Bottle of Chaleur Estate Sold for $14,000

The Auction of Washington Wines raised a total of $1.5 million in 2001, just $100,000 shy of 2000’s record-setting total of $1.6 million.  The top wine-only lot featured an 18-liter bottle of DeLille Cellars Yakima Valley 1998 Chaleur Estate red wine, which sold for $14,000.

delille cellars chris upchurch founding winemaker

Founding Winemaker Chris Upchurch

2009 Auction

Chris Upchurch named Best Winemaker of the Year

DeLille Cellars’ Founding Winemaker Chris Upchurch was named Best Winemaker of the Year in 2009. The winery was also awarded Best Red Bordeaux-Style Blend over $20. 21 liters of DeLille wines were auctioned off in 2009, at the Auction’s 21st anniversary, for a record-setting $70,000.

2010 Auction

The 23rd annual Auction of Washington Wines raised $1.4 million for uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Auction of Washington Wine Education Foundation. Top auction items included DeLille’s 192 Bottle Vertical Collection ($19,000) and two large format wines ($24,000), among other items such as Picnic Barrel Auction proceeds ($61,000).

2012 Auction

$2.1 million was raised in the Auction’s 25th anniversary year. Top auction items included:

  • Seven-night trip for four couples to the vineyards of Tuscany – $120,000
  • Safari to South Africa and wine country trip with Betz Family Winery for nine nights – $36,000
  • Mediterranean cruise aboard Seabourn – $24,000
  • DeLille Cellars wine collection – $22,000
  • Quilceda Creek 5-Liter – $17,000
  • 25-year vertical of Leonetti Cellars – $12,000

(L-R) Catherine Hay; Jay Soloff; Co-Founder, DeLille Cellars; Thea Upchurch; Chris Upchurch, Founding Winemaker and Cofounder of DeLille Cellars; Pat Lill Jorgenson, Partner, DeLille Cellars; Thair Jorgenson; Lori Lill, wife of original DeLille Cellars Co-Founder Charles Lill; Greg Lill, DeLille Cellars Co-Founder; Stacy Lill.

2015 Auction

DeLille Cellars Named Honorary Vintner

In 2015, DeLille Cellars was recognized as the 2015 Honorary Vintner at the Auction of Washington Wines. DeLille offered a library vertical tasting of its first white wine, Chaleur Estate Blanc, to celebrate the 20th vintage. “Our mission at DeLille, since 1992, is to create special wines from the uniquely expressive terroir and optimal weather conditions of the Pacific Northwest,” stated Chris Upchurch, Founding Winemaker and Cofounder of DeLille. “I’m honored and grateful to be recognized by the Washington State wine industry. I’m equally thrilled that we raised a record amount of money for the kids.”

Jason Gorski at the Auction of Washington Wines

2016 Auction

The Auction of Washington Wines hosted its first Private Barrel Auction in 2016 featuring exclusive tastings and one-of-a-kind, limited wine from notable Washington State winemakers. 

Participating wineries included: Abeja, Andrew Will Winery, Betz Family Winery, Canvasback by Duckhorn, Col Solare, DeLille Cellars, Dusted Valley, Fidélitas, Force Majeure Vineyard, Gramercy Cellars, L’Ecole No 41, Long Shadows Vintners, Novelty Hill-Januik Winery, Pepper Bridge Winery, Quilceda Creek, Va Piano Vineyards and Woodward Canyon Winery.

2018 Auction Lot

DeLille “Tour of Bordeaux” Earns Highest Bid Recorded in Auction History

In 2018, DeLille Cellars’ Tour of Bordeaux auction lot received the highest bid ever recorded in the 31-year history of Auction of Washington Wines. The package included access to some of Frances’ renowned Grand Cru wineries such as Chateaux Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion, and Château Lafite Rothschild. “The tour we have developed is beyond anything I imagined when we first came up with the idea for a trip to Bordeaux,” said Chris Upchurch. “We have worked closely with our French connections to create a world-class ‘insiders’ experience.”

“The Auction means so much to DeLille Cellars and the Washington State wine community. It’s a true honor and pleasure to support the event, and we are humbled that our lot raised $250,000 for the Seattle Children’s Hospital Uncompensated Care Fund and will help make an impact in the lives of so many children and their families,” said Tom Dugan, CEO of DeLille Cellars.

The Best of Bordeaux - 2022 Auction of Washington Wine Lot Chateau

Guests stayed at Chateaux La Mouleyre, built in 1602

2022 Auction

DeLille Cellars Achieves Highest Bid for “Best of Bordeaux” Auction Lot

Six years after offering the Tour of Bordeaux auction lot, DeLille Cellars decided to bring back a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a five-night Bordeaux trip alongside Founding Winemaker Chris Upchurch. The group stayed at  La Mouleyre, a stunning Chateau built in 1602 on 3 acres of beautiful grounds surrounded by some of the world-famous vineyards of Saint-Émilion. The lot achieved the highest bid at the annual auction for $200,000 and received a matching bid of $50,000 from the Ellison Foundation. 

Join Us at the 2023 Auction of Washington Wines


DeLille Cellars is excited to showcase unique offerings for this year’s Auction of Washington Wines. The Restaurant Executive Chef Michael C. Toni will be taking on the role of Executive Chef at the Picnic VIP Lounge. Members of our winemaking team will be pouring and Director of Winemaking Jason Gorski and Winemaker Nick Bernstein will attend the Barrel Auction. DeLille wines will also be available at the tasting bars.


Bid on our live auction lot at Gala: win a trip to Chicago and watch the Seattle Kraken play the Chicago Blackhawks from the private bar of Blackhawks ownership. The lot includes hotel, dinner and suite seats. Other auction lots includes the Alaska Airlines MVP lot including D2 as well as Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon featured in the Luxury 3L Auction Lot. 

About DeLille Cellars

DeLille Cellars, founded in 1992, is the oldest operating winery in Woodinville, WA, with winemaking and hospitality venues onsite at the Old Redhook Brewery in the Hollywood District of Woodinville Wine Country. Known for pioneering Bordeaux-style blends from Washington State, the winery has maintained a tradition of quality and excellence with over 950 individual 90+ ratings from leading publications and critics. DeLille Cellars focuses on the Red Mountain AVA and sources grapes from Washington’s most acclaimed vineyards. The winery is recognized by notable wine critics and influencers as one of the top producers in the state. DeLille recently received its fifth Wine & Spirits Top 100 Winery award (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022) and fourth Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines award (2007, 2018, 2020, 2022).

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