As I was seated by the host at the Wildwood Restaurant in downtown Portland, the aromas drifting from their kitchen tantalized my senses and created visions of what could soon be. As I wasn’t really there for the food so to speak, but rather a luncheon interview with the lead Sommelier, Savanna Ray, my heartbeat picked up with the thought of what wine I would soon be sipping.
When Savanna entered the room her presence was almost overpowering with a friendly, confident aura about her. We immediately engulfed ourselves in the discussion we had prepared and anticipated, wine.
In fact, the sole purpose of my visit with Savanna was for my enlightenment into the “backstage” life of the International Pinot Noir Conference “Maître d’Hôtel Sommelier’s, for an upcoming magazine article I am working on. The fact that Savanna is the “Boss Sommelier” made her the perfect person to fill me in on all the details of this elite club, with members who go through an application process for a chance to serve the attendees of this superb one of a kind Celebration of Pinot noir.
In a couple of hours I learned oh so much about what leads up to the event, how the Sommelier’s live for the four days, and why after up to twenty hour days of almost constant activity, the come back again and again each year. What I am about to tell you, the little I wish to let out of the bag, as remember, this is all for my upcoming article, should be tantalizing.
First let me tell you that these professional ladies and gentlemen travel to McMinnville Oregon from around the country, on their dime. The four days of almost non stop work and preparation that they give, is donated by them, for the opportunity to be involved with this event. These Sommeliers open and serve during this three day event, over 2500 bottles of wine’s selected by the IPNC Committee.
So you ask yourself what I was served for lunch, and what wine i sipped with it ? I was served Dungeness Crab and Potato Cakes on a bed of greens, served by our excellent and attentive server Tray. With it I enjoyed a glass of Rośe which was light and fruitful and a pleasure with this meal.
This experience was one that gratified my curiosity of the event, the Wildwood, as well as Savanna who was a very charming recipient to my battering of questions. I felt and learned from her, that years back, she had fallen in love with wine, and that love has engulfed her, and what puts that beautiful smile on her face. I believe I have made a friend in the wine industry, as well as outside of it.