Last Sunday Larry and I went to Pinot Days 2010. It was held at Fort Mason in San Francisco. This was the 6th annual event here and it looks like there will be one this November in Chicago and another one in Southern California in January 2011. This event is put on by Bay Area Wine Project.
There were over 200 wineries, about 14 food purveyors and over 20 exhibitors represented on this given Sunday at Pinot Days. About 95% of the wineries were from California and 80% of that was from Northern California. Russian River, Sonoma County, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, Carneros, Napa Valley, Monterey, Monterey County and Buellton, Santa Barbara County, are the most prominent Pinot Noir producers in California.
Larry and I love a good Pinot Noir. The Pinot grape is a beautiful, versatile, complex grape nuanced like a little baby grape. Its also cranky, difficult to grow and thin-skinned, making it prone to all sorts of perils in the vineyard. A good Pinot has a medium body, very fruit forward, a little bit of pucker power and goes great with food. Check out my website at ViciVino.com for some recipe ideas. Besides a good Cabernet, Pinot Noir is the next best wine to pair with food. It’s light enough to go with fish, yet it’s bold enough to go with tri-tip. I love it with any Asian Food. Pinot Noir is not made to be laid down for a long period of time; at the most, five years. But in reality the Pinot that you buy should be drunk within two years of the year you bought it in, not the year of the vintage. Each winery decides on how long they are going to leave the wine in the barrel vs. the bottle. Some leave it in the bottle as long as they leave it in the barrel. Its tricky how to handle this grape once it’s picked and how you do that will greatly show up in the final outcome. This grape likes to be pampered, so a lot of wineries have a gravity flow system so that the juices hardly have any stress during the wine making process. .
Of the wineries that we stopped at and sampled, here is a selection of the ones that stood out to me and was worth mentioning. Now don’t forget we all have different taste buds and preferences when it come to wine and food.
Alma Rosa Winery – Buellton
Blink Wines – Benicia
C. Donatiello Winery – Healdsburg
Cartograph – Healdsburg ***
Chronicle Wines – Sonoma
Cru – Madera ***
Dutton Goldfield – Sebastopol ***
Gary Farrell – Healdsburg ***
Hagafen Cellars – Napa
Hirsch Vineyard – Cazadero ***
Inception Wines – Buellton
Joseph Swan Vineyards – Forestville
Kanzler Vineyards – Sebastopol
Kastania Vineyards – Petaluma
Kendric Vineyards – San Anselmo
Lynmar Estate – Sebastopol ***
MacMurray Ranch – Healdsburg
McIntyre Vineyards – Soledad
Pillow Rd Vineyards – Angwin
Rusack Vineyards – Solvang ***
Testarossa Winery – Los Gatos
Thomas George Estate – Healdsburg ***
Windy Oaks Estate – Corralitos ***
*** Lori’s top wineries from this day
Most of these wineries were serving their ’08 vintage, however, a lot of them are not yet released. Some were still pouring their ’07 (which is one of my favorite years for Pinot Noir) and a very few were pouring anything older.
We also enjoyed the food purveyors that were showing their products. Most were different cheese companies, olive oils and some chocolate companies too ☺.
If you get the opportunity to go to this event either in Chicago in November, Southern California in January or Northern California next summer I strongly suggest it. It’s a really nice way to sample the grape, and really taste the difference in the Terroir.