The Pasadena PinotFest is getting better with age.
Wine-guy-about-town Mike Farwell and his partners from Noir Food & Wine are taking their third annual wine festival to new heights this year, with a capstone Grand Public Tasting to be held up at the Altadena Town and Country Club on Feb. 12.
Taking center stage for the occasion is, of course, that moody elixir, the pinot noir. And, for Farwell, there could be no more perfect a pairing.
He’s spent the better part of the past two decades getting acquainted with the red-grape variety, and still today he’s continually discovering new and notable pinot noir winemakers.
With the headlining event of the 2011 Pasadena PinotFest, guests can expect the opportunity to taste hundreds of pinot noirs from California winemakers, especially from the inestimable Santa Rita Hills and Russian River Valley.
Many of the winemakers will also be pouring their chardonnays and syrahs.
Look for labels like Brewer-Clifton and D’Alfonso-Curran Wines, alongside Alma Rosa, Arcadian, Clary Ranch Wines, Clos Pepe and Loring Wine Company.
While wine is the centerpiece of any tasting, Farwell said he wanted PinotFest guests to also enjoy the comfortable environs while moving from one pouring station to the next.
Oenophiles are not the only ones with a stake in PinotFest. The upcoming tasting holds something in store for gourmands, too.
“I think that’s what’s missing from most wine events,” Farwell said. “It’s the food.”
At many larger-scale tastings, visitors might be lucky to grub on a little cheese and crackers, he noted.
“That’s not what we wanted to do, because we’re a restaurant,” said Farwell, who turned to his partners at Noir and nearby eateries to build up an enticing menu for PinotFest.
To that end, guests can expect an array of edibles from a triumvirate of local cuisiniers. Noir’s own chef Claud Beltran is pulling together worldly cheese selections from France, Italy and California to complement the wines. Chef Octavio Becerra of participating restaurant Palate Food + Wine in Glendale is curating the charcuterie platters. And John Angelopulos, executive chef of the Altadena Town and Country Club, will serve up the hors d’oeuvres.
The whole affair has grown leaps and bounds from the first PinotFest, held three years ago in the Mentor Avenue space that was yet to become Noir Food & Wine.
Farwell put that inaugural event together using the many bottles of wine he had in his personal storage. There was no advertising, but word-of-mouth buzz brought in more than 100 in-the-know tasters.
The following year, attendance more than doubled when PinotFest was held at the University Club of Pasadena (seen above). Farwell expects at least that much expansion again this year.
In the grand scheme of things, Farwell has lofty ambitions for the future of the annual pinot noir festival. He said he wouldn’t mind taking the No. 3 slot in the Official Pasadena Hierarchy, right behind the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl.
And he’s only half-joking.
Saturday, Feb. 12, 1 p.m.-5 p.m., Altadena Town and Country Club, 2290 Country Club Drive, Pasadena. Parking and shuttles from Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1757 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena. General admission, $85 per person; VIP tickets (pre-order only), $110 per person. Proceeds benefit Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services and Hillsides. pasadenapinotfest.com, (626) 795-7199
(Photos by Eric Reed / Staff and courtesy Pasadena PinotFest)