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The Valley Line: Tasting wine for a good cause

February 15, 2012|By Jane Napier Neely
  • Mike Farwell, founder and director of PinotFest, talks with Ryan Carr, owner of Carr Vineyards & Winery, at PinotFest on Feb. 11, 2012 (Photo by Jaclyn Fairchild)
Mike Farwell, founder and director of PinotFest, talks…

Four years ago Mike Farwell, owner of Noir Food and Wine Restaurant in Pasadena, was sharing a wonderful pinot noir wine and exquisite food with his chef, Claud Beltran and good friends. During the meal Farwell brought up the idea of having an annual grand tasting of pinot wines that would also benefit a local charity. The idea became a reality within a few short months. It was a quiet but important beginning — that first year 60 people gathered to taste pinot noirs and to sample foods from top chefs.

Last Saturday the fourth annual PinotFest grand wine tasting took place at the historic Altadena Town and Country Club with more than 350 people in attendance. It is very clear that this tasting event is growing in importance in wine circles.

Craig Sloan, general manager of the club, welcomed guests, as did Farwell. Also greeting the wine lovers and epicureans were Bill Martone, president and chief executive of Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services, and Rob Meyers, executive director of development of Hathaway-Sycamores, the charity that is the beneficiary of this year’s PinotFest.

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“Hathaway-Sycamores is honored to partner with Pasadena PinotFest on this signature Pasadena event that showcases some of the top pinot noir wines from California and Oregon. Funds raised from this event will help us continue to provide critical programs and services for the thousands of children and families we serve,” Martone said.

The Altadena Town and Country Club, built in 1910, provided the warm and intimate atmosphere that Mike and his friends had envisioned when they first proposed the event.

Last Saturday there were 200 pinot noirs presented from more than 70 wineries. Most of the wineries also showcased white wines and some with sparkling surprises. Two of the club’s grand halls were not only set up with representatives of the wineries pouring their vintages, but also with food stations, so that guests could nibble on a fabulous array of cheeses from The Cheese Store of Pasadena, gumbo prepared by chef Beltran (a New Orleans native), gourmet delights prepared by Altadena Country Club chef John Angelopulos, and divine cupcakes created by Polkatots Cupcakes.

The club’s downstairs dining room and poolside patio was made into a VIP lounge where guests could come to taste more delights, sip wines and compare tasting notes.

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