International Pinot Noir Celebration: Pinot Noirvana in McMinnville, Oregon

Every year, a diverse group of wine lovers and luminaries of the food and wine world converge on the campus of bucolic Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, for the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC). No homework or written tests, and no dreadful lectures at 8 in the morning. Just an abundance of great pinot noir paired with the delicious bounty of Oregon and plenty of joie de vivre. This year’s event is Friday through Sunday, July 25 to 27.

The first IPNC was held in 1987 when a group of Oregon vintners gathered to figure out a way to promote Oregon wine. Since then, the IPNC has brought together more than 15,000 pinot noir lovers from around the world, fueled by an unabated love for their go-to juice.

IPNC has hosted more than 200 winemakers from France, and many from New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Austria, and South Africa, along with hundreds of Oregon and California winemakers. The emphasis is always on quality (wineries are accepted based on merit) and stylistic diversity, with many new faces appearing each year.

This year’s featured wineries include Archery Summit (Dayton), Bergström Wines (Newberg), Chehalem (Newberg), Domaine Serene (Dayton), The Eyrie Vineyards (McMinnville), Scott Paul Wines (Carlton), Stoller Family Estate (Dayton), and Westrey Wine Co. (McMinnville). Participating California wineries include The Donum Estates (Sonoma Carneros), Drew Family Cellars (Mendocino Ridge), J Vineyards & Winery (Russian River Valley), Navarro Vineyards (Anderson Valley), Patz & Hall (Sonoma), Rhys Vineyards (Santa Cruz Mountains), and Siduri Wines (Russian River Valley).

Among the most well known international wineries to participate are Mission Hill Family Estate (British Columbia), Domaine Ambroise (Prémeaux-Prissey), Maison Joseph Drouhin (Beaune), Bodega Chacra (Rio Negro, Argentina), Villa Maria Estate (Marlborough, New Zealand), and Wooing Tree Vineyard (Central Otago).

There is no wine judging here—the festival is a pure celebration of pinot noir, offering the pinot noir enthusiast the opportunity to discover new producers, and rub shoulders with established winemakers they may only have read about.

David Lynch, a James Beard award winner in journalism and contributing wine editor for Bon Appétit, will keynote the event, and noted British wine author and blogger Jamie Goode will moderate the Grand Seminar, “Doors of Perception.” A revolution is under way not only at the IPNC, but also all over the world. It is that wine drinkers are becoming savvy, and individual taste now rules our selection of wine. Seminar guests will arrive at a deeper understanding of how they perceive wines, how that perception is a reflection of them, and why that matters. Of course, the main goal as always is to drink a lot of tasty pinot noir.

Praised as a showcase for the Northwest’s famed farm-to-table cuisine, the IPNC will host more than 50 chefs from the region’s most revered restaurants. On Friday evening, it will celebrate the culinary world’s wealth of female talent at the Grand Dames Dinner. The Saturday night Northwest Salmon Bake is a long-standing tradition that’s been called “the most entertaining meal at any wine event in the world.” Held in a lantern-lit oak grove on the Linfield College campus, the dinner is all about wild Chinook salmon cooked native northwest style on wood stakes over a wood-fired pit. This dinner is also a no-holds-barred opportunity for pinotphiles to bring their best stuff to share, and as you wander among the tables, you can taste an incredible array of wines simply by asking.

I’m excited just thinking about this year’s celebration. I’ve attended almost every year for 20 years, and I can honestly say it’s the most glorious wine festival in the world. When Lewis and Clark arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River that divides Oregon and Washington states, the foul weather led their group to call the region Point Dismal. I’m sure they would be startled today to see the expansive vineyards that now dot the Oregon landscape, and to taste the magnificent pinot noirs that are now the state’s trademark. During July, Oregonians put aside the memories of dismal winter rain to revel in the sun that shines on McMinnville, the festival, and the wonderful gift of pinot noir.

More details and all-inclusive weekend event packages for IPNC are available at IPNC is easily accessible from Orange County, involving simply a 2-hour flight from John Wayne Airport on Alaska Airlines followed by a 45-minute drive to McMinnville. Accommodations in the Willamette Valley are somewhat limited so it is important to make arrangements now. If I can assist in any way, contact me at

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