The B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration is like a normal wine festival...without the duds.
Can we just be honest with each other for a fast minute? How much time—and wine for that matter—is wasted at most wine festivals where you politely wade through a winery's entire portfolio waiting to taste the actual wine you wanted in the first place? What if there was a festival with no such wastage, that only delivered what you were looking for? Well if you love Orange Muscat, you're out of luck, but if you love Pinot Noir you've hit the jackpot.
The B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration started as a modest affair at Meyer Family Vineyards a few years back with some of the area's top winemaker's (like JAK Meyer and Tantalus' David Patterson) getting together with some industry professionals and having a casual but frank exploration into all that was going well with Pinot in the province. The conclusion—good and getting better with each vintage. Pinot is now the third most planted grape in the province, which is astounding considering there are certain key areas—like Oliver and Osoyoos—where it barely has a presence.
And with a few exceptions, all the growers are there: you have Pinot specialists like the amazing Spearhead, the ultra-premium offering from Mirabel, you have the CedarCreek where the Platinum Block wines offer a masterclass in the impact of terrior and Tantalus, who's new Reserve Pinot takes its place right at the top of the quality pyramid. And you'll taste a range of styles: on the one hand you have the lush style of the Acta Vineyard Pinot from Howling Bluff and the famed Stewart Family Reserve from Quails' Gate, and on the other the cool climate wonders from Averill Creek and Unsworth, both making a case for Vancouver Island's claim to be the spiritual heir to the more Burgundian take on the grape. And Monte Creek Ranch is doing the same for Kamloops.
There's the rare Carson Pinot and ones I've frankly never heard of like Pask Pinot Noir, from Scorched Earth Winery or Black Swift. I realize I'm prattling on here, but as a Pinot lover it's full kid in a candy store mode when looking at the lineup. More importantly, there is no better way to both develop your palate or pick you fave wines than a ultra-focussed tasting opportunity like this. I can't tell you the number of times I've bought a Pinot that the winemakers have described as Burgundian only to find that it tastes like Sonoma's Russian River Valley. But here, back-to-back you'll get to be the judge.
This year's event goes August 18 at the UBC Okanagan campus and, in addition to the tasting, there's breakout seminars, a key note from Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly and a grazing dinner with food from Frankie We Salute You, Joy Road Catering, Waterfront Café, Old Vines at Quails' Gate and Vancouver's Wildebeest amongst others. Tickets are available here.
I know this post seems promo-y but I promise, we're not sponsors. It's just that every time I go to a focussed festival I feel like I can do a year worth of tasting and comparing in one night. And for a wine lover, that's invaluable.