The 2016 Salmon Bake at IPNC 2016 Pinot Noir Wine Festival Oregon

After rising and falling to the siren song of Pinot Noir for two packed days at IPNC 2016, it all comes to this: The Salmon Bake.

This grand open air feast will set you back $225. That sounds like a lot for dinner. But brace yourself, this is no ordinary meal.

Two lines sprawl from the entrance like tentacles on Linfield College’s campus. I get into one, blink, and already people stand behind me. Each carries bottles, bags of bottles, even coolers brimming to show off the Joneses.

The sun bakes away our casual conversation. Then, like a shot, the hay bale “gates” open, and the mostly middle-aged bolt and bobble to claim their table beneath the oaks.

By the time me and my compatriots grab our table the campus is full. Our black-dressed server turns out to be from my account, Cooper’s Hall. She promptly heads to the massive truck to retrieve bottle after bottle of Pinot.

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Ironically, she brings 4 in a row that we already sell.

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Ah well! We drink and wait for the food line to cool down. I take in my surroundings:

Finally, food I get in line and witness the event’s namesake: the Salmon Bake apocolypse

In addition to the aforementioned fish, tables line with choices. Here’s a slideshow:

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One plate is not enough, but I build my Pinot friendly platter regardless:

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Elegant, no, but delicious, especially for over a thousand diners, yes.

After seconds and a few glasses of Burgundy, I pretend to have room for dessert.

Oh, and do not forget pie:

Full beyond physiological reason, I decide on a beer break curtesy of Heater Allen (which is left to any and all to self pour):

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Refreshed with Pilsner, I shift into fancy Pinot scavenger mode. Last year, I angered many a table sneaking off with their prized Burgundy (at least that’s what I’m told).

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So tempting!

But 2016 will be different. I wait for people to leave tables for dead and then help them finish off their magnums and rare gems.

Hours pass. Light fades. My sentences slur.

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Clearly sober. Nice rosé though.

Somehow, I make it back to my room.

Woken by sun bleaching through broken dorm blinds, I shower, dress and head straight for one last hit of Nossa Familia’s free espresso bar.

I could stick around for the Prosecco brunch littered with food vendors. But my liver and soul is pickled with Pinot Noir. Time to go home.

Thank you IPNC for another fantastic weekend of all things Pinot Noir.

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