Category Archives: Pinot Noir

Pinot Days – 2010 San Francisco

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 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.

Trip to Santa Rosa for Hugs, Pizza and Winery Tour

Today was a great day.  Larry and I did some work in the morning then we got on the road about 11:00 to meet Brandon and Kim (our son and daughter-in-law) for lunch in Santa Rosa.  It took us less than 1 1/2 hours to get there.  We met at Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar.  The main purpose for this visit was to give them a hug to congratulate them on their first pregnancy.  That means this spring we will become grandparents.  We are way too excited about the whole thing! ☺

Anyways, the lunch we had at Rosso’s was great.  The four of us shared their Fritto Misto, calamari and green beans fried in arborio rice flour and served with a green chile aioli.  This went down really fast.  Then we shared two pizzas.  One was called Uovo.  It has a red base sauce, prosciutto, oven roasted artichokes, olives, Sonoma organic egg and basil.  The other pizza was their Funghi.  This has a white base sauce with oven roasted shitake and crimini mushrooms, taleggio and fontina cheese, shaved artichokes and fresh thyme.  We added cooked prosciutto di parma on top of that one.  Both pizza’s were delicious, the crust nice and crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside.  We ordered just the right amount of food for the four of us.  The meal came to about $12.00 per person.  The atmosphere there is great.  They have booths around the periphery and tables in the middle.  They also offer casual dining outside, but the restaurant is in a shopping center so the view outside are the cars parked in the parking lot.  The service was great, the wine list incredible with a great selection of wines from around the world.  Each day they have a special that is cooked in the wood oven.  Today it was clams.  The wine bar is beautiful with a large television in the middle, only showing soccer games.  Rosso’s is in the southeast end of town off Third Street.  It’s very easy to get to, but if you didn’t know about it you would never see it.

After lunch Larry and I went to go visit Brandon at Dutton Goldfield Winery.  There was a lot of action going on there.  They were washing and sterilizing brand new French oak barrels and racking them so they will be ready to be filled with the red wines that are in the tanks going through their second fermentation.  The interns were putting dry ice into the open top fermenters and covering them which keeps the grapes at a controlled temperature. We took some samples of the chardonnay, pinot blanc, gewürztraminer and pinot noir.  Mostly we were tasting grape juice that was just turning into wine, but you can still taste the great different flavors of the grapes with the acids and sugars.

We got home before rush hour and went back to work.  Another good travel day to the California Wine Country.

Pinot Noir Lovers – Be Alerted To The Pinot Days Grand Festival This Weekend

Sunday, June 28, 2009 from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason
Center, San Francisco.  Cost is $50/ticket.

The Grand Tasting will showcase 200 producers of pinot noir.  This is
California’s largest
single gathering of pinot producers, as well as
its most varied.  If you go you will be able to
sample up to 400 pinots from
every important region in California, Oregon, New Zealand,

As winemaker Ed Kurtzman, Freeman Winery
says, “For anyone who already loves Pinot,
this is an excellent
opportunity to try many new wines as well as some well-established
favorites.  For those who don’t have a lot of Pinot experience; my bet
is that they’ll be in
love with this grape by the end of the weekend.” 

Enjoy the countless pinots and sample a variety of artisan cheeses & other specialty foods. 
They will feature a pinot
production demonstration in which you can learn about the
of pinot from the vine to bottling and every step in between. They will
also offer a
number of pinots for auction, benefiting various

Larry and I will be volunteering at the silent auction booth until 2:00 pm.  Then we will
be set free to taste away!  If you are a twitter friend come find us @WineTravelLori and
@WineTravelLarry.  Brandon, aka @winemakerb, assistant winemaker for Dutton Goldfield) will be
there pouring on Saturday.  If you are going to be there then I suggest that you go
“clink a toast” and say hi.

Please, if you go, reply about it on this blog next week we want to hear all about your experiences.

Happy Pinot Drinking!!!!!!!!