Set at the backside of the leafy Healdsburg plaza, there was a nice selection of over 60 boutique Sonoma wineries serving pinot noir in the $40 range. Pinot On the River 2011 was favored with sunny, mild weather on Sunday October 23. Street and parking lot parking was scarce by the 11 am VIP start time. Thank goodness there was no police enforcement of the 3 hour limit on parking.
But with only 60 some wineries, most visitors probably didn’t stay more than a couple hours. The winery tables and shade umbrellas were arranged in two rows inside a 100 foot by by 50 foot cordon. The crowd built from noon to 1 pm, but then thinned around 2 pm. Yes, it got crowded, but in a good way. There was a second influx of latecomers right after 2 pm. All guests I saw were genteel, used the spit buckets, and avoided public drunkenness.
POTR 2011 Event & Wine Review in Photos
California Wine Fan has included photos only of the winery tables whose pinot noirs were to our taste. I was not able to taste all wines at POTR, so I certainly missed some wineries which would be to my taste. Where is my doppelganger, so I could be more efficient?!
Powder Rooms Matter – Where’s the Snacks?
Besides the somewhat low number of wineries at this year’s event, the provisioning of snacks was not competitive with other wine events in this price range ($75) that CWF frequents. Sweet and cheese treats were available, but felt skimpy and were outside of the main winery table corral. For palate neutralizing inside the cordon, there were only crackers.
The most surprising event rule was that no wine (alcohol) was allowed outside of the cordon in the rest of the plaza. There were several low-keyed, polite Healdsburg policemen manning the 3 entrances to the cordon area to remind visitors of the plaza no alcohol rule. Happily the event organizers rented some rather luxurious powder rooms in a trailer, which was parked 50 feet from the winery cordoned area. Super clean and roomy, but with some very steep steps — not for the disabled. [Note from Tony: I was prepared to sign a lease for one of these units.]
Proliferating Pinot Noir Events in SF Area
In the past POTR used to hold its Sunday Grand Tasting at one or another Sonoma Winery. The 2009 Grand Tasting at Rodney Strong was a noticeably larger event. The recession and growing wine event competition throughout the SF Bay Area is probably responsible. At the 2009 POTR, the wineries invited were very local – Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Napa counties. This time I was surprised to see Santa Cruz Wineries. Continuing the pattern of 2009, most of the luxury Sonoma pinot noir brands — for example, Hartford, Lynmar, Kosta-Browne – must have had other marketing opportunities for their brands and were not present at POTR 2011.
Although, it was rather enjoyable to have a very late lunch at the Oakville Grocery at the corner of the Healdsburg plaza, I think I preferred the POTR Sunday Grand Tasting event when it was held at a winery out in the Sonoma countryside. I hope the POTR event organizers will reconsider that type of venue, or perhaps taking it into the greater SF areas — Ft. Mason, large hotels in the suburbs of San Mateo, Contra Costa, Santa Clara counties.
See more pics of this event-
POTR — Worthwhile for Pinot Fans living in Wine Country
For the California Wine Fan, it’s a 2 hour drive north to this event. I would unhesitatingly recommend future POTR events to Pinot Noir lovers who are more local to Sonoma than I am.