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03.13.2006

A Plethora of Pinot Festivals

Die hard fans of Pinot Noir won't find amazing the proliferation of festivals dedicated to the varietal, but it really is quite astonishing just how many there are. In a recent article for the LA Times, Corie Brown explored the phenomenon in some depth.

There is really no other wine in the world that inspires such devotion and nearly monomaniacal collecting and drinking. I know that's hard to imagine as we watch thousands upon thousands stream into the ZAP Zinfandel festival in San Francisco each year, overly eager to stain their teeth blue and stagger around. But ZAP is but a single event, while there are now four and (as a little bird has told me) soon to be five major Pinot Noir festivals in the San Francisco Bay Area each year.

The Times article provided a nice summary of the various festivals and tastings on offer. No matter where you live, there's ample opportunity to exercise your fanaticism or simply learn more about a lovely wine.

PINOT FESTIVALS AROUND THE WORLD:

Hospices de Beaune, Beaune, France (Les Trois Glorieuses Burgundy Wine Festival). This festival has evolved from a quiet charity wine auction begun in 1859 into a three-day celebration of Burgundy's food and wines. Thousands gather from around the world to attend the winery dinners and tastings. Next
festival: Nov. 17 to 19. For information, go to http://www.hospices-de-beaune.com/fr/hospices/index.php

International Pinot Noir Celebration, McMinnville, Ore. Since 1986, a limit of 600 people each year attend what has been called "summer camp" for Pinot Noir lovers. Next festival: July 28 to 30. For information, go to http://www.ipnc.org.

Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, Philo, Calif. This local festival dating back to 1998 is focused solely on Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley AVA. It is expected to attract 450 people when it is next held May 19 to 21. For information, go to http://www.avwines.com .

Central Otago Pinot Noir Festival, Queenstown, New Zealand. More of a party than a symposium, 200 people attend this festival. Begun in 1999, it is now held every three out of four years, alternating with the country's more educational Pinot Noir festival in Wellington. The next festival is Jan. 27 to 29, 2008. For more information, go to http://www.pinotcelebration.co.nz .

PinotFest at Farallon Restaurant, San Francisco. A classy tasting supported by top California Pinot Noir producers since it began in 1999, the restaurant event limited to 300 people sells out each year. The next PinotFest is Nov. 17 and 18. For more information, go to http://www.farallonrestaurant.com .

World of Pinot Noir, Shell Beach, Calif. A symposium and tasting begun in 2000 to compare Central Coast Pinot Noirs with wines from Burgundy and the rest of the world, last weekend's festival sold out quickly with 800 people attending one or several events. For more information go to http://www.wopn.com .

PinotNoir2007, Wellington, New Zealand. An effort begun in 2001 to bring an international crowd of Pinot Noir winemakers and enthusiasts to that country, it is expected to attract 500 attendees when it is next held Jan. 29 to Feb. 2, 2007. Go to http://www.pinotnoir2007.co.nz .

Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir Festival, Melbourne, Australia. This local festival begun in 2003 has attracted as many as 150 people to celebrate Pinot Noirs from around the world. The next festival will be held March 4 to 13, 2007. For more information, go to http://www.mpva.com.au .

Pinot on the River, Sebastopol, Calif. The three-day symposium begun in 2004 features technical seminars and food pairing clinics. It attracted 85 attendees last year. The next one is scheduled for Oct. 27 to 29. For more information, go to http://www.pinotfestival.com .

Hospices of Sonoma Barrel Auction, Sebastopol, Calif. A fundraiser created in 2004 in the spirit of Hospices de Beaune, the event attracted 400 people last year. It will be held again May 19 to 21. For more information, go to http://www.hospicesofsonoma.org .

Pinot Days, San Francisco. A sprawling tasting open to Pinot Noir winemakers from around the world, it attracted 1,500 people in 2005, its first year. The next one will be held June 24 to 25. For more information, go to http://www.pinotdays.com .

Pinot Paradise, Santa Cruz Mountains, Saratoga, Calif. This seminar and tasting showcasing local Pinot Noirs began last year with 800 people attending. The next festival will be held March 25 and 26. For more information, go to http://www.scmwa.com.

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