LISA RIGISICH – PRODUCER, PINOT DAYS
Pinot Days Southern California is our fastest growing event, and it makes sense! People who enjoy blue skies and an easy, breezy lifestyle gravitate to pinot noir because it is easy to pair, easy to drink, and fascinating to talk about. Couple that with the area's innovative food, and you have a fantastic coupling of place with pinot. Enjoy Winemaker Pinot Pairings at restaurants and wine venues around town in the days preceding our Grand Festival, which is back on the West Side at the Skirball Cultural Center. Meet our winemakers, hear their stories and enjoy the most diverse, lovely wines on the planet....
Where - Skirball Cultural Center
When - Saturday, November 15th, 2014.
Trade Tasting: Noon-2pm.
VIP Tasting: Noon - 5pm.
Public Tasting: 2-5pm.
Price - $75 - Grand Festival. $120 VIP Tasting and Seminar.
Tickets - Tickets are on sale for the Grand Festival and Grand Festival VIP Tasting.
MORE ABOUT PINOT DAYS:
OUR MISSION: As a non-profit, the Pinot Days mission is to educate those who wish to learn more about pinot noir, from seed, to vineyard, to winemaker, to winery, to bottle, to table. This has been our purpose from our inception, one which we fulfilled from our first year, and one which we continue to fulfill in novel and innovative ways. How do we educate? The Pinot Days festivals bring winemakers and attendees together, creating a venue for communication between the two and enabling attendees to learn, both intellectually and aesthetically. As those in the wine industry well know, those who pursue pinot noir don’t follow it simply to drink it; they want to understand it on various levels. It is a notoriously difficult and expensive grape to grow, drawing the most skilled and knowledgeable winemakers, and offering the broadest stylistic and regional range of all the grape varieties. Thus it presents itself as a compelling avocation and area of study. Increasingly, it's the genuinely boutique producers who come and pour at our events. They're the ones who don't have a marketing department to promote them, the ones who want wine lovers to discover who they are and what they craft. They're the real deal, the visionaries. It's Peter Cargasacchi who will show up with vineyard dirt on his knees because that's where he spent his morning. Or Rickey Trombetta (Trombetta Family) who will tear up when you mention a great pinot vintage. Or Kathleen Inman who, I’ve heard, refers to her grape clusters by name. “Hand-crafted” is a literal term with these folks, and you can taste the difference. You’ll hear it in their stories. And you are going to want to hear more than they have time to tell you, and taste more than you can in an afternoon.
OUR HISTORY: In 2004, pinot noir was an after-thought in the California wine world which, from our perspective, was a shame. We sought to rectify this by producing an event dedicated to exposing those who would listen to pinot noir, educating them about the industry as a whole. 100 wineries exhibited at the first Pinot Days in 2005, and fewer than 1,000 people attended. The event, however, rapidly became a linchpin of the industry, connecting producers with prospective customers via education. We also became the leading voice of the industry, providing access to “insider” views into wineries and winemaking, giving exposure to new producers, assessing wines and answering questions on influential internet wine boards (Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, Wineberserkers), serving as panelists and guest speakers at wine events and wine-related productions (plays, movies), producing industry-focused newsletters, emceeing pinot noir-focused dinners and pairings, and taking part in radio (KGO, KABC) and television (ABC) interviews wherein pinot noir and its production was the topic. The public, clamoring for information, began to turn Pinot Days as their source of information related to pinot noir. Along with other influences, Pinot Days’ various efforts translated into an incredible increase in interest in pinot noir. Pinot Noir’s market share increased from less than 1% of the total grapes crushed to over 4% from 2004 to 2010. Pinot Days was a chief contributor to ushering new wine aficionados to the variety’s doorstep. Pinot Days also grew considerably. Again, in 2004, 100 exhibitors and 1,000 attended the Grand Festival in San Francisco. In 2010, 220 producers and 3,500 attended the Grand Festival. And in response to popular demand, we have ventured beyond California, producing 4 festivals annually. It's nice to see pinot getting the groupie following it deserves!
GARY PISONI – PISONI VINEYARDS
First planted by Gary Pisoni in 1982, Pisoni Vineyards consists of small vineyard blocks arranged on and around the ridges of the mountainous landscape. Ranging in size from one-half to seventeen acres, the vineyard blocks perch at an altitude of 1,300 feet in the granite-laced mountains of the coastal Santa Lucia Range.
Inspired by the Burgundy tradition of having several wineries source fruit from the same vineyard, Gary Pisoni has formed relationships with some of the most prestigious Pinot Noir producers in California. With agreements based on handshake alone, these wineries are guaranteed specific rows and blocks each year. They purchase grapes at a per-acre price rather than a per-ton price, which maintains the focus on quality and not yields.
In addition to supplying fruit to artisan producers of vineyard-designated wines, the Pisoni Family retains a portion of the vineyard for the production of Pisoni Estate wine.
Vineyard management is meticulous. Under Mark Pisoni's leadership, a long-time permanent crew of 18 skilled individuals perform all the work by hand. Every decision implements sustainable farming practices and long-term considerations. This commitment, combined with the rocky soils and cold Monterey Bay weather, produce serious and compelling wines.
In 1952 Jane and Eddie Pisoni began farming vegetables in the fertile Salinas Valley. A celery-crop profit in 1979 provided the down payment for the Santa Lucia Highlands property that became Pisoni Vineyards. Their love for the land provided the place where their son Gary could realize his dreams. Gary developed a love of wine while attending college. He started collecting fine French and German wines, and he made his first wine in his garage in 1978 at the age of twenty-five. In 1982, Gary broke ground and planted the first vines at Pisoni Vineyards. He was up against many obstacles, including not having a water source at the time.
Mark Pisoni, the vineyard manager, completed a B.S. in Agricultural Economics at the University of California, Davis, and an M.S. in Farm Business Management at Cornell University. He oversees the meticulous care of both Pisoni Vineyards and Pisoni Farms. Jeff Pisoni is the winemaker. He earned a B.S. in Enology at California State University, Fresno, and got hands-on experience at premium wineries before becoming the Pisoni Estate and Lucia winemaker in 2002.
The Pisoni Family produces one wine each year under the label bearing its name: Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir. Although actual quantities vary with fruit yields, typical production is a mere 500 cases annually. Often noted for their deep color and intensity, wines from Pisoni Vineyards offer complex flavors and layers of undulating texture. The rocky mountain soil and the long, cool growing season provide the fundamental character of the wine, and the tannin and acid structure contribute to the age-worthiness.
Lucia vineyard designated Santa Lucia Highlands AVA wines. Lucia is the sister label of the Pisoni Estate wines. Whereas Pisoni Estate is committed to a single expression of the Pisoni Vineyards, Lucia represents the collection of vineyards that the Pisoni Family farms: Pisoni Vineyards, Soberanes Vineyard and Garys' Vineyard (the latter two farmed in partnership with Gary Franscioni).
The wines of Lucia are vineyard designated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah from these vineyards and eponymous Santa Lucia Highlands AVA cuvées with varying percentages of each vineyard blended together. Lucia wines are made alongside the Pisoni Estate wines using the same exacting standards for quality. They are sold via mailing list and high-end restaurants and retailers. If you are on the mailing list for Pisoni Estate wines, you will automatically have the opportunity to purchase the Lucia offerings.