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Wine industry’s shift to digital puts Canada on the ‘fine wine auction’ map

March 15, 2021
  • commercial platform provides wine collectors access to rare vintages and a point of entry for new, energized buyers.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated a digital shift for the fine wine auction industry, with international auction houses reporting strong online sales results in 2020 marked by new buyers driving significant growth.

Until now, Canada hasn’t registered on the fine wine auction map, but with the launch of Canada’s first national fine wine auction by Iron Gate Auctions, Canadians will finally gain broader access to vintage wine and rare spirits from collections for sale in Canada.

Read Also: poised to become a “game-changer for charity wine auctions”

“Historically, live auctions have held a rarefied image and attracted an exclusive wine buying pool,” says Warren Porter, Founder and President of Iron Gate Auctions. “With the advent of online auctions in Canada, a broader audience of collectors and first-time buyers have the chance to find vintage wines rarely available in Canada.”

Warren Porter of Iron Gate Auctions

Warren Porter is Founder and President of Iron Gate Auctions.

“The most important advice I give to buyers is to do your research and know your budget prior to the auction,” adds Porter. “The Iron Gate Auction’s platform makes the research part easier than ever and with these tools we can help our clients make smart decisions in this new digital environment.”

Building on the successful online charity wine auction business that it launched in November 2020, Iron Gate’s commercial division is based in Calgary, Alberta. The online auction house offers a deep cache of rare, vintage wines meticulously sourced from private collections across Canada.

“It’s an exciting time for Canadian buyers to embrace the potential of online wine auctions.” – Warren Porter

Auctions will also feature multiple lots for collectors at all price ranges and parcel lots for current drinking. All the wines on offer come from exceptional collections and have been impeccably stored.

Iron Gate Auctions

This 1992 bottle of Screaming Eagle sold for a record $17, 625.

“It’s an exciting time for Canadian buyers to embrace the potential of online wine auctions,” says Porter. “The relatively limited movement of private wine collections in Canada to date means that there is huge opportunity right now to find wines with provenance and bottles in fantastic condition. These are great incentives for early adopters to jump in.”

In fact, since the platform launched in November 2020, wine auctions have raised $860,000 for Canadian charitable and cultural organizations amidst ongoing COVID-19 restrictions to in-person events. Designed to give charities more flexibility to fundraise, Iron Gate’s virtual auction platform hosted five auctions for Canadian organizations in its first season, generating 9,199 online bids across 1,095 lots.

“The level of participation in our first virtual charitable auction season has proven our long-held belief that online auctions have the potential to attract a broader audience and help charities raise funds more efficiently,” says Porter. “And we believe the fundraising benefits of online auctions will endure in a post-COVID landscape.” even set a world record, fetching the highest price ever paid for a 750 mL bottle of 1992 Screaming Eagle, according to Wine Market Journal, the industry’s most comprehensive resource for wine auction trade values and market information. The Californian cult legend sold for $17,625 CAD (including 17.5 per cent buyer’s premium) during an Iron Gate auction which ran from May 11 to 18.

Iron Gate AuctionsIn the past six months, Iron Gate has hosted online wine auctions for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Canadian Opera Company, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Bard on the Beach/Vancouver International Wine Festival and JAZZ.FM91. Another five charitable fundraising auctions are already confirmed for the fall of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.

Interested wine buyers can register at for regular updates and early access to catalogues and information about all upcoming auctions.

  • Bidding is anonymous, simple and secure
  • Register at with name, phone number and email address
  • Registrants can create their own auction item wish list and make anonymous bids throughout the duration of an auction
  • Bidders will receive email and/or text notifications for bids, outbids and won
  • Bids can be placed from anywhere across Canada
  • Online auction catalogues can be searched by producer, region and sub-region, vintage and appraisal value
  • The platform features a real-time countdown clock that will track the time remaining in auction down to the second
  • No cost to register and place bids
  • Successful bids will be charged a 17.5% buyers’ premium, well below the auction industry standard of 20% to 22.5%. Purchases are also subject to a 5% sales tax, the lowest in Canada and another benefit of hosting in Alberta
  • Once the auction closes and purchase are finalized, transfers title to each successful bidder at which point they are contacted by a shipping company who will make arrangements on the bidder’s behalf


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