There are wine tastings, and then there are wine tastings. And then, there are experiences that completely transcend a bunch of tables with vintners standing behind them pouring their wines. I've been to a few "destination" wine experiences, some of which have been great, but none of which have been better than the International Pinot Noir Conference that takes place every year in McMinnville, Oregon.
Scheduled over a long July weekend every year, IPNC is one of the most relaxed and intimate wine tasting experiences I've had the pleasure of attending, not to mention the fact that it also involves some extremely high quality wines in a gorgeous setting.
One of the top draws of IPNC, apart from the idyllic nature of the program, is the heavy representation of Burgundy at the conference. Too many events in the San Francisco Bay Area that are focused on Pinot Noir might as well be subtitled "With a California Focus." But despite taking place in the heart of Oregon's Willamette Valley wine country, IPNC draws some top Burgundy producers, and occasionally, top Champagne producers as well.
This will be my second year attending IPNC, and I'm very much looking forward to it. If you're interested, you can check out my coverage of the 2007 event:
This year's program includes many of the highlights that made the 2007 program so impressive, including the rosé tasting, the al fresco tastings on the lawn, lunches in wine country, the grand dinner (one of the most impressive large scale catering jobs I've ever seen), the famous salmon bake, and more. Jancis Robinson will be the master of ceremonies this year, and will be joined as a speaker by David Schildknecht from The Wine Advocate, along with top winemakers.
If you're looking for a compact vacation that includes some truly exceptional wine tasting, a beautiful setting, a mellow atmosphere, and fantastic camaraderie, you can't go wrong with IPNC.
I'm not sure if it still applies, but for a while they were offering to give you a six pack of wines for $0.01 for each full weekend ticket you purchased. Give them a call and see if it still applies.
International Pinot Noir Conference
July 24-26, 2009
900 SE Baker St.
McMinnville, OR 97128
Tickets for the full weekend is $975, and always sell out. This year may be an exception, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't grab your ticket as soon as possible. On its face, the price is pretty inexpensive, and all the more so knowing the proceeds support a charity focused on offering health care to vineyard workers. You can register at www.ipnc.org.
The weather is generally perfect for this event, warm or even hot and sunny during the day, and cooler at night. Casual dress, sunscreen, and a sun hat and you're set.
See you there?
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