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Event raises $1.6M for Asante

The final day of the Oregon Wine Experience wrapped up Sunday with a grand tasting event featuring 80 Oregon wineries and 13 culinary partners. The four-day event raised about $1.6 million for Asante programs.

“Preliminary results indicate $1,580,833,” said Asante spokeswoman Desirae MacGillivray Myers.

The OWE showcases the best Oregon has to offer in wine, culinary talent, experiences and generosity. All funds raised stay within the state and benefit the Asante Children’s Miracle Network and other Asante healthcare programs.

Various Oregon Wine Experience events take place throughout the year, but the event which wrapped up this weekend allows the community to come together for one big celebration.

An estimated 5,000 people have attended events all year so far, Campaign Director Andrea Reeder said. This year’s numbers far exceeded 2018 in terms of funds raised, people in attendance, volunteers and donations, she said.

Last year’s event saw about 4,600 attendees and raised $1.3 million.

“We had more than 300 volunteers,” Reeder said. “We couldn’t have done this without our volunteers, sponsors and our wine and culinary partners. It’s amazing to watch our community come together to benefit our region. There’s nothing more important than our health.”

Thursday started the event with the Oregon Wine Competition Medal Ceremony awarding a record number of Oregon wineries in four categories: silver, gold, double gold and best of show. Friday continued the wine celebration with the Founder’s Barrel Auction, and Saturday continued the auction theme with the Miracle Auction and salmon bake.

The silent auction featured Oregon gems such as wine experiences and river trips, and the live auction featured big ticket items such as a labradoodle puppy and a trip to Mexico. All items were donated by individuals or businesses.

The 13-week-old curly, brown labradoodle puppy, temporarily named Mr. Miracle Doodle, was a popular auction item. According to the auctioneer Stan Dupree, he sold for $15,000.

“To know that those folks who were bidding, not only fell in love with that puppy, but they knew that those extra funds way beyond the value of that puppy was going to go to help kids’ health,” Reeder said.

Dupree said at least half of all the items auctioned sold for well above their value.

The auction was paused from physical prizes to ask the bidders to bid on donations to the Asante Foundation. The bids start at $100,000 and anyone can raise a paddle to donate straight to the foundation. The bids decrease from there.

Reeder said there was an individual who raised a paddle and committed to donating $100,000 to the foundation. She said staff will work with the donor to designate what area they would like the contribution to go towards. She said there were a handful of $10,000 bids as well.

“It gives everyone the opportunity to just give because sometimes you come and you want to win an auction item and it doesn’t go that direction, but you can still give a donation to the cause,” Reeder said.

Sunday wrapped up the OWE with an informal tasting event featuring winners from the competition and wineries and culinary partners who had participated in the OWE in some way.

Event officer Ashley Meyers said the previous three days of the Oregon Wine Experience are geared towards fundraising, but Sunday allows winery partners to have direct contact with the general public on a grand scale because the other days are focused towards sponsors.

“Having it be a little more informal and having all of our winery partners in the same place, it feels more like a gathering and a party than a formal scripted event like we’ve had the rest of the week,’ Meyers said. “It’s a more causal way and a more connected way for all of us to end the event.”

Steve and Sue Lawrence of Ashland sample some wine from Valcan Cellars at the Oregon Wine Experience in Jacksonville Sunday. (Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune)
Paula Guzzo owner of Guzzo Family Vineyard in Grants Pass swirls around some wine at the Oregon Wine Experience in Jacksonville Sunday. (Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune)