Pinot in the City Brings Oregon to Austin

Willamette Valley wineries converge on JW Marriott

Photo by CC0 Public Domain

Ah, the fabled City of Roses. Stumptown. Cold Austin. For every nickname Portland boasts, its home valley of Willamette has a dozen vineyards.

The Willamette (will-am-it. See? Portland has arbitrary colloquial pronunciations just like Austin!) Valley stretches 150 miles from the Columbia River down to Eugene, cradling the majority of the Beaver State's population, the bulk of functional VW vans left on Earth, and over 500 wineries. What makes this hippie hollow such prime land for grapes? Come get about 65 reasons why when the traveling event Pinot in the City comes to the JW Marriott of Austin on Jan. 26.

Despite the huge difference in square acreage, the state of Oregon has dedicated about nine times as much land to vineyards as Texas. The mild climate, complex soils, and plenty of consistent, soul-sucking rain all contribute to the cultivation of grapes that then go on to become pinot noir, which will be the chief focus of Pinot in the City. Hey, if the weather is going to keep you inside for most of the year, the least it could do would be to help make booze happen.

The Willamette Valley, which Wine Enthusiast named the 2016 Wine Region of the Year, has mild winters safely above freezing and moderate summers rarely daring past 80 – pretty much cruise control for growing Pinot Noir grapes. Essentially, the three soil types of the Willamette Valley are a patchwork mix of volcanic basalt, ancient marine sediment, and a well-draining, silty loam. I'm simplifying here, but I've been to enough wine tastings to know that when you start dipping into scientific esoterica, you have a roomful of tipsy, politely nodding folks who are more concerned if their teeth are wine-stained than with paying attention. Come learn more from the people who made it, as most of the 65+ vineyards will be personally represented by the owners or the vintners themselves.

Pinot in the City takes place at the JW Marriott, 110 E. Second, Thu., Jan. 26, 6pm. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Austin Food & Wine Alliance. Tickets available here, $75-150.

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