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Pinot Days Chicago - another way to find a great wine

Pinot Days Chicago - Fess Parker 'coon-hatted bottles
Barbara Payne

This year's Pinot Days festival is April 26, 2 to 5 pm, at Navy Pier. You'll love it. I went last year and had an exceptional time. Lucky for me, my oenophile son-in-law - you know, the kind of guy who actually absorbs what he reads in Wine Spectator - was willing to recommend some wineries he knew were excellent.

As a result of his educated suggestions, I'd say this was one of the best wine tastings I can remember. Of course I ended up tasting several wines that were so high-end I had to bend at the knees to hoist the price tags. But hey, what better way to get to know these beauties!

Pinot Days Chicago 2013 was packed with celebrity wineries. From bubblies to deep, dark reds, from high-end beauties for $60 and $75 a bottle to more affordable reserves, the selection was huge, the wine-pourers friendly, and the atmosphere relaxed.

More notes from Pinot Days Chicago 2013:

My 5-star pick: Miner Family 2011 "777" Rosella ($75).

Some of my 4-star picks:

2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, Gay ($60) and 2011, Rosella ($60)

Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir ($25)

Bien Nacido Vineyards Pinot Noir

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de noirs - made with 90% pinot grapes

2011 Rodgers Creek from Sojourn Cellars - grown in volcanic ash

And here are a few of the other memorable pinot noir tastes available at last year's Pinot Days:

MacMurray Ranch - check out their Reserve

Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

Ancient Oak Cellars - family-owned and operated

Kendric Vineyards

Miner Family Winery pinot noirs

Ladd Cellars 2008 Cuvee Abigail pinot noir

Thomas George Estates pinot noirs

Waits-Mast Family Cellars - small case lots from 3 prime pinot-growing regions in California: Mendocino County/Anderson Valley, Russian River Valley and Sta. Rita Hills

There were lots of other wineries represented as there are this year. If you love pinot noir wines, you simply must attend. And think about it - it's a nonprofit put together solely for the purpose of helping you learn about wines so you can pick knowledgeably. What better excuse do you need to drink wine all afternoon?

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