Farallon Uncorks 17th Annual PinotFest
San Francisco’s nationally distinguished Farallon restaurant, in conjunction with 60 of the West Coast’s top pinot noir producers, will host the 17th annual PinotFest celebration this November. Throughout the festive, pinot-centric month, Farallon dinner guests can choose from carefully selected flights of pinot noir and enjoy a special chef’s tasting menu. On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, fans of the grape can gather to revel at the signature PinotFest grand tasting – aka, The Great Big Bacchanalia – this year taking place on November 21 from 3 to 6 p.m.
Created in 1999 by Farallon’s then esteemed wine director, Peter Palmer, the celebration has become one of the highlights of the wine event calendar, and the grand tasting is considered one of the most stylish gatherings of the year for both winemakers and guests. As with all winemaker gatherings, camaraderie and competitiveness combine to create – with the help of much excellent wine – a lively atmosphere and an unabashedly good time.
“When we created PinotFest in 1999, the Bay Area had no tastings focused exclusively on West Coast pinot noir,” said event founder Palmer. “Now it’s a much different story. There are several noteworthy events, but PinotFest is still one of the finest. We are particularly gratified by the caliber of wineries, many highly regarded and small production, that return annually and call it their favorite tasting of the year.”
In the month surrounding the grand tasting, two flights of pinot noir, selected from offerings by the event’s participating wineries, will be available in the restaurant as a preview of wines featured at the grand tasting. A five-course Farallon Coastal Cuisine tasting menu, paired with wines from the pinot family of grapes, is also offered throughout the month. In years past the sumptuous menu has included dishes such as seared diver sea scallops atop smoked bacon and apple cider reduction served with a glass of Chehalem pinot gris from the Willamette Valley. Another delicious combination featured oven-roasted Reichardt Liberty duck breast with celery root puree, roasted Brussels sprouts, and pomegranate jus paired with Flowers, Andreen-Gale Sonoma Coast pinot noir. And for sweets lovers: a pear and quince charlotte with pear beurre blanc and Zind-Humbrecht pinot gris, Rotenberg, Vendange Tardive, Alsace 2002. Contact Farallon for the menu this year, as items are subject to change due to availability.
At the culmination of the month-long celebration, Farallon and the selected wineries host The Great Big Bacchanalia on Saturday, November 21 from 3 to 6 p.m. in the restaurant’s private dining rooms, located on the fourth floor inside the Kensington Park Hotel. Tasters will enjoy a premium selection of top pinot noirs from a wide array of Oregon and California producers and enjoy the unique opportunity to mix and mingle with winemakers from Calera, Littorai, Tendril, Charles Heintz Wines, Alma Rosa, Cobb Wines, Radio Coteau, Foxen, Keller Estate, Bonaccorsi, Paul Lato Wines, Handley Cellars, and many more.
Guests will also enjoy an array of delicious and pinot-friendly hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef de Cuisine Ryan Simas, as well as an array of bites from three visiting chefs: Chef Parke Ulrich of Waterbar, Chef Matthew Dolan of Twenty Five Lusk, and Chef Doug Bernstein of Fish in Sausalito. Offerings from years past have included hot smoked Alaskan king salmon with honey-rum glaze; grilled local calamari and tiny white beans; Liberty Farms duck sausage crostini with sour Michigan cherries; pulled short rib and caramelized shallot profiteroles; white truffle scented risotto balls; and the festival favorite, Mark Franz’s confit of duck gizzards with fennel seed and chives.
Tickets for the signature PinotFest grand tasting event – what Palmer calls “a public tasting of a sexy wine” – are $125 per person and are available online at www.farallonrestaurant.com.