It was for the love of pinot noir that inspired three local wineries, over a pint of beer, to launch the annual B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration.
Today, the three reflect on how the event has instigated collaboration among the region’s best pinot noir producers to give a collective voice to the varietal that is quickly becoming one of the region’s definitive grapes.
On Aug. 22 the third annual B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration will see 26 of the province’s best producers delight the palates of more than 250 guests at the Linden Gardens in Kaleden.
Meyer Family Vineyards winemaker Chris Carson has experienced varietal celebrations in other corners of the world. In 2012 he proposed the idea to proprietor Jak Meyer, alongside Luke Smith of Howling Bluff Estate Winery and Tantalus Vineyards winemaker David Paterson. It didn’t take long, or many beers, for the visionaries to imagine what could be and start planning.
“Our goal for the event was for it to be interactive, and to represent and showcase that pinot noir in B.C. is an expressive and distinctive wine,” said Meyer. “The addition of international guest speakers including Decanter Magazine’s Steven Spurrier this year and previously Karen MacNeil author of The Wine Bible, gives the event wonderful credibility.”
The B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration showcases wineries up and down the Okanagan Valley and across the province to demonstrate pinot noir’s breadth of expressions.
“We’re seeing more of an emphasis and a thirst for the delicate, subtle, elegant pinot noir,” said Howling Bluff Estate Winery’s Smith. “More than any other wine, it reflects the terroir authentically, meaning the dirt it is grown in and the seasons. It is a very difficult grape to grow, requiring lots of attention and control, but when you achieve a beautiful pinot noir it is very gratifying as a winemaker.”
Tantalus Vineyards’ Paterson adds that “increasingly the varietal is being taken seriously, and as a result we’re seeing the industry strive to elevate and improve the quality and reputation of B.C.’s pinot noir. The conversation is growing. We’re excited about the pinot noir community that is emerging and the event is a prime opportunity to give the dialogue momentum.”
The inaugural celebration event in 2013 was hosted at Okanagan Falls’ Meyer Family Vineyards where 120 guests enjoyed 13 wineries’ pinot noirs. Then in 2014, the event moved to Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna with 16 wineries participating and 160 attendees. This year’s event represents the most ambitious year yet. The wineries were selected by blind tasting by the Vancouver Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS).
Guests will enjoy a Summerhill Pyramid Winery sparkling wine reception with international guest speaker, Spurrier, followed by breakout sessions alongside the pinot noir winemakers. Always popular, the blending session offers guests a chance to experience the making of pinot noir. Following will be a garden tasting salon paired with a canapé competition with celebrated Okanagan Chefs Chris Van Hooydonk, Alex Sielmann and Jason Leizert, and Calgary chef Dilan Draper. Capping off the evening will be a family-style dinner feast prepared by Artisan Culinary Concepts, paired with pinot noirs and accompanied with live music by the Young’uns.
Visa Infinite and the B.C. Wine Institute proudly sponsor the B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration. As a sell-out event each year, tickets are recommended to be purchased soon on the website at www.bcpinotnoir.ca. The $175 ticket includes a shuttle service to select pick-up/drop-off points in Penticton and Okanagan Falls.
Encouraging the discovery and appreciation of B.C. pinot noirs, Visa is offering a $20 rebate on the ticket price to Visa Infinite cardholders. As part of their Wine Country Program, Visa Infinite is also hosting a celebration dinner with Spurrier at Liquidity Winery on Aug. 21 in Okanagan Falls, featuring chefs Rob Walker, Vikram Vij, Trevor Bird and Dilan Draper.
A unique weekend package is offered for Visa Infinite cardholder guests to enjoy both events for $250.
For more information about B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration and to purchase tickets, visit www.BCPinotNoir.ca.