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Penner-Ash Wine Cellars 2019 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir showcases the balance and purity of fruit, evident in Pinot from Oregon. Photo via Facebook/Penner & Ash Wine Cellars
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars' 2019 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir showcases the balance and purity of fruit, evident in Pinot from Oregon. Photo via Facebook/Penner-Ash Wine Cellars
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Harvest for Hope; Penner-Ash tops ‘Pinot Picks’

The Emilio Nares Foundation (ENF) of San Diego County presents its 18th annual Harvest for Hope Food and Wine Tasting Event at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept.12, in the beautiful Coasterra Restaurant on Harbor Island in San Diego.

The mission of ENF is to ensure that no child misses cancer treatment due to lack of transportation. The foundation helps families navigate through the child’s journey with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Founders Diane and Richard Nares created this commitment to underprivileged families of children with this affliction, offering free transportation, a “Ride with Emilio,” named after the loss of their only son

Emilio to cancer.  Since 2003 the foundation has raised over $3 million in San Diego and other communities in Southern California. ENF’s prime service to the needy, “Ride with Emilio” with its four vans, has reached a milestone of driving cancer-related patients over a million miles, serving over 6,000 families and 4,000 children, getting them to their cancer treatments.

The Emilio Nares Foundation, since 2003, has helped children and their families battling cancer in Southern California. Courtesy photo
Since 2003, the Emilio Nares Foundation has helped children and their families battling cancer in Southern California. Courtesy photo

Every child served by ENF comes from a low-income household where reaching life-support appointments would be next to impossible.

This year’s Harvest for Hope benefit event on Sunday, Sept. 12, has brought out the best in restaurant and wine partners, to ensure a special time for guests and sponsors.

At least 15 gourmet food stations will be serving delicious entrees including Coasterra with its Paella Station, Crust Pizzeria with mac and cheese; Great Maple with smoked pork belly and polenta; Ranch 45 with Brandt Beef; Solare with butternut squash; Sushi on a Roll; Ratcliffe Catering with a burrata salad and stone fruit; Tavola Nostra with meatballs and tomato sauce, caponata eggplant and Sicilian pinsa bread; Sweet Cheeks Baking Company with a pumpkin dessert; Venissimo Cheese with its Gouda wheel; Lazy Acres’ cookie and wellness latte, and King and Queen Cantina’s Mexican cuisine in San Diego’s Little Italy

Wine partners include Castello Banfi, Chambers and Chambers, Daou Family Estates, Niner Winery, Torrey Wines, Transcendent, Kobrand and Regal. The beer partner is Thorn Brewing.

General Admission tickets are $160. per person. Partnerships are still available. To learn more about the foundation and to RSVP for tickets to the Sept. 12 benefit event, visit, or contact Katie Khasim at 858-571-3328.

Saluting National Pinot Noir Day with our new ‘Pinot Picks’

What makes pinot noir so irresistible to a growing body of wine lovers despite being a finicky grape, its thin skin demanding precise locations along coastal climates for maximum cultivation? Andres Tchelistcheff, considered the leading winemaker in the development of Napa Valley wines, once declared that “God made cabernet sauvignon, whereas the devil made pinot noir.”

However, Joel Fleishman of Vanity Fair magazine described pinot noir as “the most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, it makes the blood run hot and the soul wax poetic.”

Pinot Noir’s home is France’s Burgundy region, especially the Cote-d’-Or district. By volume, most pinot noir is planted in California’s Sonoma with its Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations. Other well regarded California pinot does well in the Anderson Valley, Carneros in the Napa Valley, the Santa Lucia Highlands south of Monterey and the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County.

Oregon is the second-most productive region in the U.S. for pinot noir led by the Willamette Valley. Dundee Hills is next followed by the Eola-Amity Hills.

The Willamette Valley is at the same latitude as the Burgundy region of France and has a similar climate in which the finicky grapes thrive. Being lighter in style, pinot noir has benefited from a trend toward more restrained, less alcoholic wines.

“There are hundreds of outstanding wines to go around from 2018 and 2019,” Wine Spectator said. “Both are excellent vintages for pinot noir characterized by moderate temperatures throughout the growing season, with replenishing winter rains and no damaging heat spikes.”

The recent National Pinot Noir Day saw several new attractive wines that fit the Spectator mold:

2019 Penner-Ash Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, $55: Reflects the region’s distinct textures, flavors and terroir with elegance and balance. Winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash has drawn on longstanding relationships with grower friends and neighbors to source fruit from the most distinguished vineyards (

2018 Domaine Anderson Estate Pinot Noir, $45: This estate wine is sourced from 3 vineyard sites spanning the Anderson Valley. The soils are light clay mixed with alluvial loam and sand.  The wine is a beautiful dark translucent garnet red. A firm structure with graceful tannins provides the frame for this well-built wine (

2018 Landmark Hop Kiln Pinot Noir Russian River Sonoma, $45: A symbol of the Russian River Valley’s rich agricultural heritage, Hop Kiln’s Vineyards grow some of the region’s finest pinot noir grapes. Made from fruit grown on the estate, this wine is a brilliant example of how complex yet smooth a pinot noir can be (

Wine Bytes

— Silver Oak and Twomey are the next two wine stars spotlighted at the A. R. Valentien alfresco terrace in La Jolla from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16. The multi-course menu with wine is $185. + tax and gratuity. For more information visit

— New weekend brunch items have been added to the popular Flora menu in the Carmel Valley district of San Diego, each Sat. and Sun. from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The winner is the Italian-style French Toast. Sun. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., listen to live music while you dine. Make a reservation at 858-461-0622.   

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by WineSpectator and of the leading commentators on the web. Reach him at [email protected].