Off to Drink Some Pinot: IPNC 2011

I spent the evening on the crest of a hill overlooking the Willamette Valley watching the sun set over the hills. It was 83 degrees with a light wind blowing. A DJ was playing old reggae tunes, while I and about 150 other people wandered around sampling food from some of Portland’s famous food trucks, and drinking wine from about 12 different wineries who were pouring everything from Gruner Veltliner to, of course, Oregon Pinot Noir. After the sun went down, a bonfire was lit, and the fire dancers started to perform.

Sound like your idea of a good time? I certainly felt like I was roughing it.

I’m up in Oregon’s Willamette Valley for a remarkable wine event called the International Pinot Noir Celebration, which I get invited to every two years, it seems, as a member of the press.

This evening was one of several events that kicked off the celebration, which lasts through the weekend, and consists of winery visits, meals, seminars, and several tastings. This is the 25th Anniversary of the event’s inauguration, so no doubt some special things are in store.

I’ve been working hard all week (and not blogging, as you might have noticed) in preparation for being able to take a few days up here in Oregon to cover the event. My official responsibilities at the event consist primarily of co-hosting a blind tasting event tomorrow at a winery, where I and a sommelier will lead the crowd through a blind tasting of several Pinot Noirs from around the world, and share my guesses with them (which will undoubtedly make them feel a lot better after I mistake a Mercurey for a Dundee Hills Pinot).

After that, I’ll be tasting a lot of Pinot Noir and taking notes to share with you, as well as attending seminars hosted by my friends Eric Asimov and Jordan MacKay, and also Allen Meadows, which I will try to take notes on for your reading pleasure.

One of the nice things about this event is that it draws producers from all over the world, including Burgundy, of course, but also Austria, Canada, New Zealand, South America, and more.

Great wines, fantastic food, and a very laid back atmosphere make this an exceptional event, and I look forward to sharing it with you (and with my wife Ruth, who is along for the ride). I’ll also be tweeting through the event, so feel free to check in on my feed @vinography, or the hash tag #IPNC, if you have some time to kill.