I go to many industry/public tastings that celebrate a specific varietal, but I have to say that Pinot Paradise is one I never miss. Held annually—three days this year, from March 22–24—with day three being my favorite (Could it be the smoked salmon from Nonno’s, among other tasty fare on which to nibble?), Pinto Paradise celebrates legendary, award-wining Pinot Noirs of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Pinot Paradise is “intimate,” as public tastings go. The event is held inside a modest-sized, European-style banquet facility in quaint downtown Campbell, California (Campbell was once the center for shipping local fruit and home to drying grounds and major canneries).
Unlike some varietal-specific tastings, Pinot Paradise truly is “paradise”—every Pinot is unique. And, that is the beauty of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, where Pinot Noir vines thrive. Exceptional soils rich in minerals and varied micro climates indicative of warm days and cool nights give birth to grapes that enable winemakers to craft Pinots that appeal to just about any Pinotphile.
Just like Pinots from this region, each winemaker too is unique, bringing his or her own style—not to mention personality—to every vintage. More than 30 wineries will be pouring 150 or so wines, so you will have a chance to meet the eclectic characters behind the labels. Most of the wineries are family-owned, small-to-medium-sized operations. Their histories span decades—from the turn of the 20th century (Bargetto Winery), to the heels of World War II (Mount Eden Vineyards), to the “Me decade” of the 1970s (Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard and Silver Mountain Vineyards), to the “information age” (House Family Winery).
So, prep your palate for a taste of Pinot from this hidden gem of an appellation. You definitely will get your bang for the buck. For more information on participating wineries and restaurants, and to inquire about purchasing tickets, contact the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association at, www.scmwa.com.