This past weekend marked the grand, cholesterol-enhancing, tooth-staining, eighth annual Pigs & Pinot at the Hotel Healdsburg and Dry Creek Kitchen. It's been a nearly impossible ticket to get for the past five years or so, despite the fact that chef Charlie Palmer had only ever imagined it would be a locals-only, wine country event for Pinot nerds. Things have snowballed, though, with the help of some national TV coverage, into a foodie draw with more caché, perhaps, than things like Aspen Food & Wine, mostly because the crowd here is small, and the events pretty intimate. Grub Street had the privilege of cruising around the Taste of Pigs & Pinot event on Friday, tasting as many of the 62 Pinot Noirs being highlighted in this year's Pinot Cup competition as we could maybe twenty? we lost count. And Saturday we attended the Swine & Wine dinner at Spoonbar, featuring four courses prepared by John Paul Carmona, Louis Maldonado, Evan Rich, and David Bazirgan, and wines by Cobb Wines and VML.
Simultaneous to that event was the coveted Gala Dinner, at which there were five courses from visiting chefs Elizabeth Falkner (formerly of Citizen Cake, now chef-owner of Krescendo in Brooklyn), Jose Garces, Dean Fearing (known as the Father of Southwestern Cuisine, chef at Fearing's Restaurant in Dallas), Dry Creek Kitchen chef Dustin Valette, and Delfina chef-owner Craig Stoll. Their food was paired with wines from De Loach, Domaine A.F. Gros, Kosta Browne, Martinelli, and Sea Smoke, and the whole event was MC'd by actor and comedian Mario Cantone, complete with a Julia Child impression.
All proceeds from the weekend went to Healdsburg charities and Share Our Strength, and it was estimated they brought in approximately $100,000.
As for the winery winners of the weekend, Roth Estate was the surprise winner of Pinot Cup, besting dozens of other more expensive bottles with their 2010 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, which retails for about $28.
And in Saturday's Pinot Smackdown, in which four sommeliers compete with pitches for four of their favorite wines, the winning wine in the "sweet sixteen"-style bracket was Pisoni Vineyards' 2011 Lucia Soberanes Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands, California.
Check out all our photos by clicking below.