Pinot Posse stops in Avon |

Pinot Posse stops in Avon

Wren Wertin
Vail CO, Colorado
AE Pinot Summit 2 DT 3-14-07

AVON, Colorado ” There’s no pinot envy in this bunch. Cheerfully armed with nothing more than excellent vino, restorative tequila and vintners’ passions, the Pinot Posse is once again riding through Colorado to spread the gospel of pinot noir. The seven winemakers, on a week-long tour, stop in Avon Thursday to host an interactive discussion at Vin 48 about the grape that’s gotten under their skin.

This is the third Pinot Summit for Eagle County residents, which likely will touch on winemaking philosophies, grape-growing practices, bottling techniques and external factors such as the economy and legislation. But ultimately the event is about exploration and discovery through first-hand experience. There will be many, many glasses of wine imbibed.

“One of the incentives to doing this tour is we’re drinking so much, we get hazard pay,” quipped Peter Cargasacchi of Point Concepcion in California.

Cargasacchi, both a farmer and a winemaker, will be joined by his peers Jim Prosser of J.K. Carriere, Ed Kurtzman of August West, Dan Kosta of Kosta Browne Winery, Brian Loring of Loring Wine Company, Andrew Vingiello of AP Vin and David O’Reilly of Owen Roe. The group hails from Oregon and California, from the Willamette Valley to the hills of Santa Barbara County. They’re unified in their love of the vine, and in their modest production quantities. They might only bring eight barrels of a single wine to market; once it’s gone, it’s gone.

“The Pinot Posse is always a good time,” O’Reilly said. “When you’re around people who really share the same passion ” all of it revolves around the same grape. I think any of us could be doing other things. It’s consuming, and we live and breathe it.”

During last year’s Pinot Summit, the winemakers talked in great detail about single-vineyard wines versus blends. All the winemakers agreed: single-vineyard wines honor the terroir of a particular vineyard, while blends are simply the best wines they can make from a group of vineyards. But where they fell in terms of which they preferred was a little different. Loring sells over a dozen single-vineyard wines, while O’Reilly specializes in blends.

“I make single-vineyard wines to represent that vineyard, the whole vineyard,” Vingiello said.

Vingiello, Kurtzman and Loring all sell a pinot noir made from grapes of a California vineyard called Rosella’s. Kosta will be releasing one in the near future, too. Despite using fruit from the same vineyard, they’re all different wines thanks to the mystery of winemaking.

“Trying them side by side, you really get to taste the hand of the winemaker,” said John Salaminski, the Colorado distributor for the winemakers and the chauffeur for the impishly energetic bunch.

Right now, pinot noir is a hot topic for wine drinkers. And that’s the kind of discussion that’s right up Cargasacchi’s alley.

“I’m happy to come back,” he said. “It’s a great group of winemakers. The pinot noir industry in general seems to have a lot of camaraderie. Everyone gets along, which seems unusual. We’re not competitive.”

That’s partly because of how young the West Coast’s wine industry is, compared with those in Europe. They’ve got an open inquisitiveness about them, searching for the best way to grow and handle grapes. There’s no “one correct answer.” They’re simply on a vino journey.

O’Reilly is an Irish citizen, but he doesn’t intend to uproot shop and head back to the homeland. He’s staying in the U.S. “There’s no other country that I’d rather make wine in,” he said. “The opportunities here are so huge. We’re still discovering better and better places to grow some of these more delicate grapes like pinot noir. The future is so bright for us.”

And American imbibers are becoming more and more educated. They’re especially willing to “drink outside the box.”

“What I love about the American wine drinkers in general is their freedom,” O’Reilly said. “If I like a wine, I’m going to buy it. It doesn’t matter where it’s from. Even though the Europeans think we’re governed by scores, people in this country are a lot more adventurous.”

This particular pinot adventure begins at Vin 48. During the opening reception people will mingle with the winemakers while nibbling and drinking. After that, people will take their seats at tables. One winemaker will be seated at each table, and they’ll switch for each of the five courses. With each course there will be one of the winemakers’ wines. It will make for lively discussion and even better drinking. After dinner, should people so choose, they’ll be able to try any of the 24 additional pinots the restaurant will be selling by the glass for a tasting fee. For more information on the event contact the restaurant at 748-WINE.

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