Photo Credit: Courtesy of IPNC
Inside IPNC: Oregon's 72-Hour Marathon For Wine Lovers
For the past 35 years, wine lovers have traveled to McMinnville, Oregon from far and near to the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC). The IPNC draws both consumers and industry members such as restauranteurs, sommeliers, and winemakers for a weekend filled with tastings, tours, wine education and etiquette, and more.
This year’s festivities were extra special, because it was the comeback year since the pandemic. Attendees were ecstatic to be back in person — anticipation was in the air.
I had the opportunity to attend this year and at first, I had no idea what to expect. A few days in McMinnville, tasting Pinot, sounds like a chill experience, right? Instead, I was absolutely blown away and left IPNC 2022 feeling like a changed woman.
From Portland to McMinnville
After a 6-hour flight from New York City, I landed in Portland and drove a little over an hour to the city of McMinnville.
With a population of about 34,466, this city, known as the heart of Oregon Wine Country, is charming and picturesque. My first thought after arriving in the city was how incredibly fresh the air is. It was a sweet escape from my daily life in Brooklyn.
Once I checked into my hotel room, I freshened up for the pre-IPNC dinner at the home of David Adelsheim, founder of Adelsheim Vineyard.
Prior to attending IPNC, I would indulge in an occasional glass of Pinot. I enjoy the wine, but I wouldn’t consider myself a connoisseur by any means. After this weekend, however, I’m now a self-proclaimed Pinot girl.
Dinner at the home of an Oregon Wine Country legend
View this post on Instagram
David Adelsheim is one of the first people to start a vineyard in Oregon’s North Willamette Valley. In 1971, Adelsheim became Chehalem Mountains’ first winery and is now certified sustainable.
Dinner was held on the lawn of Adelsheim’s home, overlooking the historic Quarter Mile Lane Vineyard.
The French-inspired dinner by Chef Pascal Chureau was accompanied by seven wines, ranging from regions in France and Italy to Oregon and California.
View this post on Instagram
As the sun went down on my first evening in McMinnville, my tastebuds reveled in the splendor of good company, great wine, and superb food. It was the perfect way to kick off IPNC, but I still didn’t anticipate the festivities to come next.
I started sipping wine at 9 a.m.
The 36th Annual IPNC was held on the campus of Linfield University. I depended heavily on the IPNC app on my phone to see my schedule and location of events.
This is the first year the app was used and it was such a simple way to navigate IPNC festivities. The app also had information on speakers, featured wineries, and chefs. I especially referenced the app to see the shuttle service schedule, which transported attendees from the local hotels to Linfield’s campus.
On the first day, I attend the Through Rosé Colored Glasses seminar, which highlighted sparkling Pinot Noirs from around the world.
My experience began at 9 a.m. with a tasting of twelve sparkling wines from regions ranging from South Africa and Australia to Oregon. With each tasting, we were able to hear from the winemakers about their processes. It felt like a backstage pass to ask any questions about the wines I was tasting, directly from the source.
The seminar was followed by lunch on the lawn of the university, where we enjoyed a multi-course meal accompanied by more wine.
I was super excited to see other Black attendees and felt a sense of pride seeing Black women like IPNC Board Member Tiquette Bramlett show up boldly in a mostly-white space.
IPNC aka a marathon for wine lovers
As an occasional wine drinker, day 1 took me out. I quickly learned that IPNC is a marathon for wine lovers.
Following breakfast on day two, we headed on a winery tour and lunch at Archery Summit, located in the Willamette Valley.
The special part about IPNC is getting to meet and interact with winemakers and really learning about the art of wine.
Each evening, before dinner, there was an alfresco tasting. These tastings featured a total of 70 winemakers pouring their finest Pinots. It was the perfect opportunity to taste Pinots from a variety of regions while speaking with and learning from the winemakers who made them.
The iconic Salmon Bake
The last night of IPNC was celebrated with the infamous Salmon Bake. This iconic IPNC tradition showcased wild salmon in all their glory while being roasted over a huge fire pit.
An extravagant outdoor buffet and dessert table complemented the perfectly cooked salmon. The wine was flowing in abundance, including super rare bottles, some dating back to the 90s.
Everyone was having a great time and for that night, I had not one worry in the world.
Farewell with a sparkling brunch
Before heading back to Portland, I indulged on last time at the farewell Sparkling Brunch.
Was my liver begging me to rest? Yes. Was the sparkling wine too gorgeous to pass up? Also, yes.
The brunch was probably my favorite IPNC experience. Everyone was dressed beautifully, in good spirits, and sipping on bubbly.
As I said goodbye (for now) to McMinnville, I reflected on how much a person could actually change in 72 hours. I started off as someone who enjoyed wine, but I left with a deep appreciation for every individual that puts their all into this incredible art form.
Until next year, IPNC.