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Seminars and Speakers

All Full Weekend Guests attend the Grand Seminar on Friday or Saturday.

2015 GRAND SEMINAR: A Sparkling Conversation

Fifty years ago, David Lett planted the first Pinot noir vine in the Willamette Valley at The Eyrie Vineyards. To mark this historic anniversary, we will celebrate with a Grand Seminar dedicated to exploring and enjoying Champagne and sparkling wine, moderated by Patrick Comiskey, senior correspondent for Wine & Spirits Magazine.

First, take in a visual presentation on how the bubbles get into the bottle. Next, with the guidance of Rollin Soles, taste the three varietals most common to Champagne and the wines made around the world in the Méthode Champenoise: Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. Then, experience a “dosage trial,” and understand how this step transforms texture, balance, and the final expression of the wine. Afterward, savor a hand-selected flight to include: Argyle Winery, Champagne Jean Baillette-Prudhomme, Champagne Billecart-Salmon, Champagne René Geoffroy, Champagne Henri Giraud, J Vineyards & Winery, and Soter Vineyards.

Lastly, raise a glass filled with a surprise wine, only to be unveiled at the IPNC, and toast to 50 years of growing Pinot noir in the Willamette Valley!

Patrick Comiskey, WINE & SPIRITS MAGAZINE (Los Angeles, CA)

Patrick Comiskey is a senior correspondent for Wine & Spirits Magazine, where he serves as chief critic for the wines of the Pacific Northwest. He is a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times, and is a founding contributor to zesterdaily.com. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Decanter, The Hollywood Reporter, the Robb Report, and other publications. He is an instructor on the wine business at University of California Los Angeles. He lives in Los Angeles, where he has just completed a history of the American Rhône wine movement.

Scott Anderson, J VINEYARDS & WINERY (Healdsburg, CA)

Scott Anderson is the sparkling winemaker at J Vineyards & Winery focusing on premium Méthode Champenoise sparkling winemaking. Scott took a circuitous route to the wine industry, receiving an environmental engineering degree from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, before playing baseball in the Colorado Rockies minor league system for two years. It was while sipping on a glass of vintage Champagne at a bistro on a baseball road-trip in Charleston, South Carolina that Scott realized the minor league baseball life had run its course. He “retired” from baseball and soon after made his way to Sonoma County to follow a new dream. Now, after ten years of working with remarkable varietal and sparkling winemakers in the Russian River Valley, Scott is heading up sparkling winemaking at J. Scott lives in Healdsburg and enjoys brewing beer, camping, traveling and running with his two pups, Auggie and Terra.
Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy, CHAMPAGNE RENE GEOFFROY (Aÿ)

This father-son domaine is producing Champagnes of the utmost integrity. The Geoffroy family has been growing grapes in the village of Cumières since the 1600s where 11 of their 14 hectares are planted. The remainder is planted to Pinot Meunier in the village of Fleury-la-Riviere and a few small lots in the village of Damery. All of the individual parcels are vinified separately; all are fermented in enameled stainless steel, and some lots go into oak. The family is committed to fruit-thinning in July, only manual harvesting, and environmentally gentle handling of the vineyards. Once the grapes are harvested, the Geoffroys press in a traditional Coquard press, which is slow and gentle, but rarely seen any more because of its low productivity and the physically taxing work it entails. Red-grape dominated cuvées from a warm microclimate create thrilling, vibrant, fruity Champagnes. Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy makes wines that reflect his enthusiasm.

Claude Giraud represents the 12th generation of the Giraud-Hémart family. In 1982, he took over the management of the Henri Giraud Champagne house. His project was twofold: to develop new and exceptional cuvées and to extend the company’s notoriety by means of a selective distribution network. Combining cutting-edge technology with traditional work on small oak barrels, he helped the house to entirely revamp pressing and vinification. His philosophy: “Like all great wine, Champagne is indissociable from a great terroir, a great forest, and a great history.”

In the heart of Champagne, situated in the charming village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, is a Champagne house family-owned and independent for nearly 200 years. From the foundation of the house of Billecart-Salmon in 1818 until now, each generation has been committed to perpetuate the family tradition through standing by the immutable oath: ‘Give priority to quality, strive for excellence’. The family continually works to modernizing the art of their wine making while working from nearly two centuries of experience. Today, the Billecart family legend continues thanks to François and Antoine Roland-Billecart, representing the sixth generation, who lead this house with the support of their father, Jean Roland-Billecart.

Bryan Maletis, FAT CORK (Seattle, WA)

Bryan Maletis grew up in Portland, Oregon and spent his middle school through college years working for a family beverage distribution company and playing water polo. In 2003, he became Winebow’s youngest brand manager in New York City and was given the responsibility of managing Champagne Laurent-Perrier. In 2008, Bryan and his wife Abigail traveled to Champagne where they met Bryan’s coworker, Jean-Pierre Willemsen. Over a year later, Bryan received a call from Jean-Pierre. He had left Laurent-Perrier to act as the chief exporter for a multitude of grower Champagnes to Italy and was interested in expanding overseas. He proposed a partnership with Bryan acting as the exclusive U.S. importer. Bryan met Jean-Pierre in New York City to finalize the plans and Fat Cork was born. Fat Cork is now celebrating four years of selling grower Champagne across the United Sates. They sell primarily to their Champagne Club members and through their online retail store. Bryan will represent Champagne Baillette-Prudhomme in the 2015 Grand Seminar.
Rollin Soles, ROCO WINERY (Newberg, OR)

Rollin Soles has been producing distinctly defined wines and garnering high praise and fond attention from wine critics and enthusiasts for more than 27 years. He recently was named “one of the top 20 most admired winemakers in North America.” ROCO Winery, his newest venture, started with wife, Corby, in 2002, already has distinguished itself as an outstanding Oregon Pinot noir and Chardonnay producer. Soles’ wines display the expertise he gained while making wine in Australia, California, Switzerland, and Washington as a young man before he co-founded Argyle winery in 1987. His ROCO wines are a definitive statement of their specific terroirs, meticulous farming, and winemaking practices. Watch for ROCO’s first sparkling wine release in 2017.

Tony Soter, SOTER VINEYARDS (Carlton, OR)

Tony Soter, an Oregon native, has been crafting award-winning wines for four decades. Beginning in 1975 in California, Tony acted as viticulturist and winemaker, consulting with wineries including Shafer Vineyards, Spottswoode, Araujo, Niebaum-Coppola, and Viader (amongst others). Additionally, Tony laid the foundations for his own brand, Etude, in 1980. In conjunction with his wife, Michelle, their focus on organic and sustainable growing practices became the foundation of Soter Vineyards. In 1997, they had decided to engage themselves in the challenge of crafting elegant, small lot, Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines, and produced Brut Rosé and Blanc de Blancs from their inaugural vintage. These wines instantly captured the attention of the region, eventually the fine wine world around the country, and continue to do so today. The Soters are passionately committed to crafting world class Pinot noir and of course their “farmer fizz,” using a sustainable and ecological approach. Both are produced from their noteworthy estate property, Mineral Springs Ranch in the Yamhill-Carlton District.