Sep 15, 2013

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The Ultimate Event For Pinot Noir Fanatics: IPNC


The Pinot Noirs I tasted for #IPNC #WineChat

Love Pinot Noir?  Then the one and only event that needs to be added to the bucket list is the International Pinot Noir Celebration, also known as IPNC.  In July, thanks to the wonderful people of the Oregon Wine Board, I was lucky enough to experience the ultimate of all globally ultimate Pinot Noir events, and it happens annually, right here in my home state of Oregon.  Every summer for the past 27 years, Pinot Noir enthusiasts from around the world gather in the heart of the Willamette Valley for 3 days of Pinot-centric good times.

Taking place on the beautiful Linfield College campus, in McMinnville, attending the IPNC is like nothing else.  I’ll be writing individual articles about each of the incredible events I attended; like, the Salud dinner at Stoller Family Estate, the Grower Champagnes seminar with Champagne expert Terry Theise, the surprise visit to paradise-like Elton Vineyards, and the world-famous Salmon Bake, to name a few.  It was a whirlwind of events that literally swept me off my feet.  Not knowing at all what to expect, here’s an explanation of how one rolls at the IPNC.

Although IPNC officially began on Friday, it really started on my patio two days before, on Wednesday afternoon.


Pre-IPNC Salud dinner at Stoller Fmily Estate

Wednesday: Pinot Noir for #WineChat #IPNC was a virtual tasting of five Oregon Pinot Noirs that took place live via Twitter in honor of the upcoming IPNC.  I was one of several writers and media people to be invited to participate in the tasting, and what we tasted was excellent – most certainly contributing to loads of anticipation and excitement for the upcoming IPNC.

Thursday: Knowing I was staying in a dorm on the Linfield College campus, getting a key to the dorm was going to take place at the pre-IPNC dinner at Stoller Family Estate, Salud!, where I would meet up with my friends from the Oregon Wine Board.  My excitement for the upcoming days only grew stronger when I saw the dinner set-up at the breathtakingly gorgeous Stoller tasting room with a view.  With a pre-dinner reception that included wine tasting from wineries that came to Stoller from Burgundy to wineries that came from right down the street, I sampled incredible Pinots alongside delectable finger foods – an insight to what lay ahead.  After the Salud! Dinner, I followed Charles Humble and Michele Kaufmann, of the Oregon Wine Board, to Linfield College to settle into my dorm room and see (for the first time) my schedule of events that would be happening over the next three days.  After opening my envelope, I found myself staring at tickets to the Grower Champagnes seminar with Terry Theise, Raiding the Cellar seminar with Eric Asimov (wine critic for the New York Times) and the world famous Salmon Bake – I felt like the luckiest wine gal on earth.  Those tickets were simply icing on the cake, because they were add-on events to the already stellar events that take place from morning to midnight, and sometimes later.  My name badge was also in my envelope of goodies, and it must be worn at all times.  Mine had my name, my website, where I’m from and 14B – indicating the number of the bus I was to boaard for the mystery vineyard tour and winery lunch (14) and the schedule I was to follow (B).


One of several excellent Champagnes from the Grower Champagnes seminar

Friday: Starting out with Breakfast on the Lawn, I immediately knew that good quality, delicious food was going to be the theme for the weekend.  The buffet was piled high with delectable foods; including, some of the best bacon I’ve ever had, fresh fruits, cheeses, fresh salumi and farm-fresh eggs to name just a few.  Right after breakfast, the Opening Ceremonies took place and individuals from the participating wineries approached the podium, one by one, introducing themselves and the wineries they each represented.  I was amazed at how many different countries and wine regions would be pouring their wines at IPNC.  After the opening ceremonies was the Grand Seminar (a tasting of some incredible wines), the Alfresco Lunch where I was lucky enough to sit next to Jason Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards and taste his 1986 Pinot Noir.  This lunch is where I learned that all of the servers for IPNC are volunteers that are Sommelier certified and come from top-notch wineries and restaurants.  After lunch I attended the University of Pinot, where I learned about the nuances of oak in Pinot Noir and then I went straight to the Grower Champagnes seminar, which I’m really looking forward to writing in detail about.  Right after the seminar, an afternoon Alfresco Tasting took place prior to The Grand Dinner.  Phew, I was exhausted but absolutely loving every minute of it.


First-course at the Willamette Valley Vineyards lunch set in the paradise-like garden just next to Elton Vineyards. Simply amazing.

Saturday: Starting out like Friday, with an outstanding Breakfast on the Lawn, I then boarded a bus for the Vineyard Tour and Winery Lunch.  Until the bus driver started the engine, I had no idea we where we were going.  When the host announced that we were heading to Elton Vineyards for an Oregon Wine Country Lunch with Willamette Valley Vineyards, I knew I was in for a grand event.  I’ve attended a lot of events hosted by Willamette Valley Vineyards, like the Silcox Hut Valentine’s Day Dinner, and they are never anything short of stellar.  As soon as we returned to Linfield College, I headed over to the Raiding the Cellar with Eric Asimov seminar, another special event I’m looking forward to writing about.  With another afternoon Alfresco Tasting taking place right before the world-famous Northwest Salmon Bake, I think I had probably tasted over 200 Pinot Noirs from around the world and eaten some of the best foods I’ve ever had, and the Salmon Bake literally blew me away – it was certainly an unforgettable feast.


Salmon filets slowly roasting over open flames at the Northwest Salmon Bake

Sunday: After staying up pretty late on Saturday night, I was happy to see that the Sparkling Finale brunch didn’t start until 10 am.  With a country theme, all of the servers we had come to know over the past two days were dressed in country gear; like, overalls, cowboy boots and cowboy hats – making it a super fun finale that was filled with incredible foods, mimosas and sparkling wine from around the world.  Although I could have attended the Pinot Walk Around after breakfast, a tasting event similar to the Alfresco Tastings, I took up an offer from Sheila Nicholas of the fabulous Anam Cara Cellars to attend an Oregon Riesling tasting.  Taking place at McMinnville’s Back Room at Nick’s Italian Cafe, I tasted 57 Oregon Rieslings alongside the wine buyer for the White House – it was an amazing tasting overflowing with delicious Rieslings.

With this teaser of what’s to come over the next few weeks, please join me as I share detailed stories on the happenings of the one and only IPNC, the ultimate event for Pinot Noir fanatics right here on

To purchase tickets for the 28th Annual IPNC in 2014, visit