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Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 5.21.2009



Uncorked 2009

Wine, Food, Sun Pony up for pinot

A Memorable Memorial Day Lane County destinations

Taking Flight Jumping headfirst into the world of wine

Tiny Bubbles Pretty Pages, Prettier Drinks

Passion for Pinot Homegrown Voyages

Too Rich for Our Blood? Our wine man revels in recession-proof pricing

Wine, Food, Sun

Pony up for pinot

by Suzi Steffen

IPNC

Is there a time more possibly perfect in the Willamette Valley than the last weekend in July? With the likelihood of gorgeous weather approaching 100 percent and an international crew of people who not only feel passionate about the grape and its fermented state but also local, organic food and health care for workers, the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville should charm everyone who can afford the ticket.

Yes, that ticket’s pricey. Seriously pricey. On the other hand, your $975 gets you everything from a seminar where the winemakers of Panther Creek Cellars, Cristom Vineyards and Bethel Heights share stories about their soils and microclimates to vineyard tours and winery lunches that read like head-spinning combinations of delight. Chefs including Leather Storrs (Portland’s Noble Rot), our own Adam Bernstein (Adam’s Sustainable Table), John Gorham (of PDX’s glorious Toro Bravo) and a whole bunch more provide the taste delights for interviews with winemakers.

We all know this wouldn’t be an Oregon conference without emphasis on local food and some form of social justice, and the IPNC takes on both. There’s the Grand Dinner, where Vitaly Paley, Stephanie Pearl Kimmel and Rocky Maselli and other well-known Oregon chefs work with farmers to create that famous Northwest combo of local and crazy good food. The weekend previews November’s Salud! auction, where winemakers auction off custom bottles of pinot noir in order to pay for field worker health care. Attendees can give a donation to Salud! on the registration form or at www.saludaction.org 

Looking for a less pricey  option? On Sunday, July 26, the IPNC hosts the $125-per-ticket “Passport to Pinot,” a tasting extravaganza complete with winemakers from all over the world and, of course, top chefs from around the state. For pinot noir enthusiasts, the entire weekend looks like one long fantasy come to life in the Valley. The group request deadline for registration falls on May 30, but individuals can keep on registering either online or with the celebration’s brochure. Check out www.ipnc.org for the enticing specifics — and, hey, think about saving up now for next year’s fun in the sun.