The Valley Line: PinotFest keeps the charity flowing

February 20, 2013|By Jane Napier Neely
  • Celebrity sommelier and PinotFest host George Skorka enjoys wine by the fireplace at the Altadena Town & Country Club.
Celebrity sommelier and PinotFest host George Skorka… (Ruth Sowby )

I certainly did enjoy our balmy weekend. I decided to cure myself of cabin fever and settled into the backyard patio, where I plopped myself into the swing and basked in the warm sunshine.

I thoroughly enjoyed the brief hiatus from winter.

My dog, Lola, also likes the swing, and she made a little bed among the pillows and snoozed right next to me while I was reading a new novel. Hmmm, I love days such as those.


I recently attended the sixth annual Pasadena PinotFest held at the picturesque and historic Altadena Town & Country Club.

Mike Farwell, owner of Noir Food and Wine Restaurant in Pasadena, is the founder of the PinoFest, which has grown in depth and importance each year.

Proceeds from this premier wine event go to the many programs of Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services. Rob Myers, executive vice president of development for the agency, said, “Hathaway-Sycamores is honored to partner with the Pinot Fest. Funds raised from this event will help us continue to provide critical programs and services for the thousands of children and families we serve.”


Also greeting guests at this year’s Fest was Craig Sloan, general manager of the country club, which was established in 1910.

Farwell said the idea for the festival came when he was sharing pinot noir wine and good food with his chef, Claud Beltran, and good friends. Farwell brought up the idea of having an annual tasting of pinot wines that would also benefit a local charity. He remembers that it was a quiet but important beginning and that only 60 people gathered the first year to taste the wines and sample food from top chefs.

This year, more than 500 wine lovers gathered in the club’s large two salons to taste more than 200 pinot noirs from 70 leading wineries from California and Oregon. Also offered for tasting were chardonnay, sparkling, and some dessert wines.

Once again, two of our “local” vintners were presenting their wines — Gray Hartley, winemaker of Hitching Post Wines and a Crescenta Valley High School grad and Wes Hagen, a 1987 grad of La Cañada High School who is the winemaker at Clos Pepe Vineyards.

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