This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Ahhhhhhh. Pinot noir. Just the name can make people swoon. Considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, the fickle red grape is highly sought after. It is thought of as a romantic wine that most people fall in love with. So, when the annual World of Pinot Noir weekend comes, Pinot lovers from all over the country come to celebrate this grape.
As Pinot-files, we all lust for the perfect expression of this grape. From its primary home in Burgundy, France to the Russian River, Carneros and Central Coast (Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria) to the Willamette Valley in Oregon to New Zealand (Central Otago, Martinborough and Marlborough), there is no shortage of world-class regions. These regions provide the perfect growing conditions for this picky grape. These cooler regions provide a long spring and fall, resulting in complex and interesting wines with aromas that range from cherry, cranberry and raspberry to earth and mushroom.
As I wandered through World of Pinot Noir, there were more than 200 wineries pouring their wines over two days. I found the Burgundy table, moved to some Santa Barbara producers, met a new Oregon producer and tasted through the New Zealand table. I could taste the various differences from region to region and was quite content.
But, then I saw a sign that said “Michigan” and another that said “Finger Lakes.” I shook my head in confusion. Pinot in Michigan and Upstate New York? Doesn’t it snow and freeze there? I quickly changed my focus and decided to explore the area of the room lined with wineries from regions that you wouldn’t expect for pinot noir production.