In Oregon: the IPNC, first day
Just woken up on day two of my Oregon trip, where I'm currently in McMinnville attending the IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration). It really is a fantastic event, bringing together Oregon's Pinot Noir producers with some high calibre international guest wineries for a weekend of serious tasting and some pretty serious dining. Pictured above is the setting for the dinner last night, which was in the pretty campus of Linfield college where the event is being hosted.
I had a very pleasant flight with Northwestern, which was a surprise because last time I flew with an American carrier it wasn't a good experience. Watched a couple of films, slept, and ate and drank reasonably well, including a really nice Cab/Malbec blend from Waterwheel. Even Homeland Security was a better experience than I was expecting: the guy who dealt with me was charming and turned out to be a bit of a wine buff.
I picked up my hire car from Portland, and with the help of my good buddy Garmin managed to find McMinnville pretty painlessly. I checked in, and then went to buy a cheap pay-as-you-go mobile, because mine doesn't work here. Customer service at the AT&T shop was brilliant. Total cost a very reasonable $60, including $25 talk time.
Then off to the IPNC. I did the pre-dinner tasting, which was a casual outdoor walkaround affair - there were some really good wines (I don't want to say too much more until I've tasted more widely). Then it was time for the grand dinner - a jolly affair with frequent small pours of a huge range of wines, and really good food. I was sitting with fellow journos Tyler Colman of Dr Vino (http://www.drvino.com/), Elin McCoy (Bloomberg) and Patrick Comiskey (Wine & Spirits magazine). Fellow brits Stephen Brook and Jasper Morris are also here. Now I must go and get some breakfast before the sessions begin.