Vintners who choose to tussle with it, tread a painstaking and challenging road to pinot noir perfection. Jak Meyer, co-proprietor (with his wife Janice Stevens-Meyer) of Meyer Family Vineyards in Okanagan Falls, has long been a proponent of this finicky, ethereal, and deeply revered grape variety.
Indeed, the first BC Pinot Noir Celebration took root in 2013 and was hosted on the Meyer Family Vineyards estate. Meyer and his winemaker, Chris Carson, along with likeminded Okanagan Valley producers such as Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna, and Howling Bluff Estate Wines in Naramata decided it was time to shine a light on local expressions of pinot.
Where pinot noir is planted manifests more clearly in the bottle than other grapes, its thin skin making it susceptible to harsh climates and disease. It expresses itself best in cool-climates.
“We honestly believe pinot noir does well here and B.C. pinots are among the best in the world. We wanted to showcase some of the top producers and bring them together for a tasting, and an educational event for the consumer,” Meyer explains.
“This is the fifth event. The first was 13 wineries, then the next year at Tantalus there were 16 wineries, then we followed up with a couple years at Linden Gardens in Kaleden and grew to 26 producers.”
The celebration, a huge undertaking for the winemakers, who volunteer their time, now takes place every two years. To accommodate a larger attendance (35 producers and roughly 300 consumers), and to facilitate the educational components of the celebration, this year it has been moved to the University of British Columbia’s Campus in Kelowna.
In the morning, keeners can take part in seminars with topics that include the Science of Wine, Pinot Noir from Coast to Coast (featuring wines from Nova Scotia, Ontario and BC), and Something Old Something New (examining older and newer vintages side by side). An afternoon sparkling wine reception features keynote speaker Madeline Puckette, a certified sommelier and author of The New York Times bestseller, Wine Folly: An Essential Guide to Wine, and the day continues with wine tastings, concluding with a cocktail party featuring live entertainment.
BC Pinot Noir Celebration takes place on Saturday, August 17 at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus in Kelowna. A shuttle to and from the event is available from a selection of hotels.
Visit bcpinotnoir.ca for more information and to purchase tickets.