The reasons you might not have tickets to IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration) are legion, but lack of desire is not one of them. For one week every year, it’s the hottest show in McMinnville, a weekend-long party pulling people from all over the globe to genuflect before the distinct allure of Pinot noir.
Never fear. Though you may not have snagged a ticket (it is a bucket-list item for many attendees), you can recreate the experience for yourself and a group of friends by tasting your way through Oregon Wine Country with a curated IPNC-themed travel itinerary.
Wine Region of the Year: France
The 2018 IPNC hosts several French producers bringing their craft to the Willamette Valley for a signature showcase of French wines. For a chance to explore the best of Burgundy alongside a meal, try Bistro Maison on 3rd Street. Visit some of the wineries shaped by the hands of French winemakers throughout the decades, such as Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Nicolas-Jay, and Chapter 24 Vineyards. Or plan a flight of hard-to-find wines at the rare-find-focused specialty shop Woodard Wines, right in downtown McMinnville.
We’re sorry. It’s impossible to recreate the surprise winery brunch where the IPNC organizers put you on a bus and don’t tell you which fabulous winery you’re headed to. But it’s still worth trying for others! Invite your friends and don’t tell them where they are going. Go casual at Red Hills Market, or fun and fabulous by staging your own brunch at the Barlow Room in Dayton. Opt for gourmet additions and never-ending romance at The Barberry (think truffle fondito, Wagyu steak and eggs, and oysters on the half shell.
Northwest Salmon Bake
Salmon is a dish best served everywhere around here. Good choices are the pan-fried salmon at La Rambla Restaurant & Bar, grilled salmon at Golden Valley Brewpub, or let chef Gilbert Henry choose for you at the elegant Cuvée in Carlton.
You could make a whole tour of sparkling producer Argyle Winery in Dundee, or, to pair with bites, head across the street to the Ponzi Bubbles Bar. Just want a unique sparkling you can get nowhere else? Track down a bottle of bubbly by upstart Mellen Meyer to take home with you, and learn to love Oregon’s sparkling revolution.
Passport to Pinot
The idea behind the IPNC’s Passport to Pinot event is to create a one-stop place to explore all of the producers visiting the event this year. We can’t give you the Oregon white oaks in the green space at Linfield College, but we can offer you the variety and the spirit of exploration to be had at the Oregon Wine Village experience, at The Barberry, in downtown Mac, where Chef Jacob Way guides diners through a multi-course meal of locally-sourced menu items paired to perfection with local producers you’ll find nowhere else.
Meet the Makers
Looking for some places where you are more likely to interact directly with the winemaker? They are a lovely lot, obsessed with their grapes, with process and with the places that seep into their wines. Dominio IV’s new tasting room in Carlton is a great bet for commingling with these makers, or try a private tasting at Biggio Hamina Cellars. A stop by the family-run Winter’s Hill Estate in Dayton in always recommended. There, the Gladhart family is often behind the counter, pouring their flagship Pinot noir alongside Rosé, Pinot gris, and Pinot blanc.
Fore more information on the IPNC, and, perhaps, to get it on your calendar for next year (all events are SOLD OUT for 2018), visit ipnc.org.
Read more at Visit McMinnville.