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Eat and drink like a King at Bearfoot's winemaker dinner

Five-course dinner will showcase the all-natural wines of Oregon's King Estate Winery



All hail the king of the pinots.

One of Oregon's most celebrated vineyards, King Estate Winery, will showcase some of its finest vintages on Thursday, Feb. 9 for an intimate evening of epicurean delights at Bearfoot Bistro.

Along with the five-course dinner crafted by Executive Chef Melissa Craig, the dinner will shine a light on the family-owned and operated winery known for its organic approach to growing and, of course, its delectable pinots.

"Our terroir and location is really the leadoff. Place is everything for both pinot gris and pinot noir, and we have a 1,056-acre private estate in the south end of the Williamette Valley, of which 465 are under vine," explained King Estate's VP of sales and operations Edward Holmes. "One of the key elements of Oregon is variable yield and variable quality, so it really puts pressure on the winemaking and the quality of sources to make great fruit in what can be a very challenging viticulture appellation."

The King family's fierce commitment to sustainability spans back to the winery's inception in 1991, ages before the term became a buzzword in the industry. The world's largest contiguous organic vineyard, King Estate eschews the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, resulting in bright, bold all-organic wines that reveal a deep sense of place.

"Sustainability has really been a foundation platform for the King family when it comes to the viticulture period," Holmes said. "What we don't grow ourselves, we'll pay a premium for certified organic fruit. We really want to work with our contract growers to provide not only good quality fruit, but fruit that aids in helping the environment as well."

Winemaker Spencer Spetnagel, who will be in attendance on Thursday, has handpicked a selection of eight vintages from the estate's library exclusively for the dinner. Some, like the 2002 Domaine Pinot Noir and the 2006 Domaine Pinot Gris, are hard to find in this part of the world.

"It's a great honour to host a dinner like this," said Luc Trottier, wine director at the Bearfoot. "Some of the wines we'll be serving for dinner aren't necessarily available in our market in B.C., so it's a great opportunity to try those wines for many people."

A wine-focused dinner — particularly one with such an emphasis on reds — presented a unique challenge to Craig, whose tasting menu includes B.C. spot prawns with blood orange and kohlrabi, and a Peace Country lamb saddle with sweetbreads, farro verde and Perigord black truffles.

"It's definitely very different for me, with all the red wine. I usually prefer to cook with white," she said. "It's amazing for me and my staff just to put them to the test."

Pastry chef Domenic Fortin echoed Craig's sentiment, admitting that pairing a dessert to a wine, rather than the other way around, forced him to think outside the box with his flavour profiles. His Haitian single-origin chocolate and Syrah ice cream topped with a roasted chestnut streusel will be matched with King Estate's 2013 NxNW Syrah.

"It's quite unusual to pair a Syrah for dessert. It's not a sweet wine in any way, it's a really peppery wine with lots of spices involved," he noted. "Sometimes (these special dinners) are much easier than others; this one is a little more complicated, but it's fun."

Guests at the winemaker dinner will also get their first glimpse of the Bearfoot's newest conversation starter: a grand, 26-seat table, made entirely from B.C. fir that can be raised or lowered at a moment's notice from the cellar space's ceiling.

Tickets are $250, available at The reception and dinner starts at 7 p.m.