Passionate for pigs, pinot 

Five years ago, visionary chef Charlie Palmer planted the seed for one of Sonoma County’s great food-and-wine festivals: Pigs and Pinot.

Palmer, a Michelin-starred chef who uprooted his family from New York City several years ago to plant roots — as well as vines — in Healdsburg, conceived the idea of pairing culinary experts, pork and wine professionals and Pinot Noir to celebrate a perfect pairing over a festive spring weekend.

As co-owner of Hotel Healdsburg and proprietor of adjacent Dry Creek Kitchen, Palmer has used his venues to highlight Sonoma County’s award-winning agriculture and wine producing regions — Dry Creek, Russian River and Alexander Valley — in his annual homage to swine and wine.

The result: the fifth annual Pigs and Pinot epicurean weekend, which kicks off Friday in Healdsburg.
The festival — which includes an opening-night pigs and pinot tasting, a cooking seminar, a wine competition and a grand gala Saturday night — benefits local charities as well as Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit that works to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry.

For this year’s feast, Palmer raised two suckling pigs from Clark Summit Farm of Tomales.

“Raising our own pigs for this event was a natural progression for Pigs and Pinot,” Palmer said. “Pigs and Pinot truly embodies all that is wine country — celebrating the local bounty from grape growers, producers and artisans and now farmers.”

Weekend events

Due to its growing popularity, this year’s festival is sold out.

Festivities kick off Friday with “Taste of Pigs and Pinot,” at which guests can experience 50 hand-picked Pinot Noir wines, all of which are in competition for the Pinot Cup, one of Palmer’s home-grown creations.

Tastings are served with a variety of pork dishes, including homemade sausages, charcuterie, grilled pork, patés and other creations.

On Saturday, the festival will host two swine-and-wine seminars.

“Tournament of the Pig” will feature two teams of culinary stars who will be given three different pork products to create three distinct dishes. The Pigs and Pinot Gala will feature a five-course dinner at the Dry Creek Kitchen.

Pigs and Pinot Late Night will be held after the gala with after-dinner drinks and dessert in the Hotel Healdsburg lobby. All Pigs and Pinot celebrants are welcome to attend.

Pigs, Pinot through April

For fans of Pigs and Pinot that couldn’t make Palmer’s event this year, Hotel Healdsburg and Dry Creek Kitchen have created a package for people with a passion for both.

The two-night “Pigs and Pinot-phile” package includes deluxe king guest room accommodations; a tasting tutorial on Sonoma County’s Pinot-producing regions with Dry Creek Kitchen sommelier Drew Munro; VIP tastings with 2009 Pigs and Pinot Cup winners Papapietro Perry and De La Montanya Winery; a three-course menu with a signature Pigs and Pinot entrée paired with a glass of Pinot Noir from the Dry Creek Kitchen cellar; and an in-room Pigs and Pinot-inspired treat.

Available through the end of April; package rates are $776 (Sundays through Thursdays) or $996 (Fridays and Saturdays). Blackout dates include March 19 and 20, and April 23 and 24.

If you go

Pigs and Pinot in Healdsburg

Pigs & Pinot:
Hotel Healdsburg:


A three-course menu at the Dry Creek Kitchen
Starting at $25

For those wishing to experience the Dry Creek Kitchen, which recently received a 2010 AAA Four Diamond Award, the restaurant is offering a special “End of Workweek Lunch” menu that starts at $25 a person. Available from noon to 2:30 p.m. Fridays, the menu features a first course, a main course and a dessert course. Featured wine is an additional $7 a glass. Tax and gratuity not included. For more information, visit


A weekend enjoying pigs and Pinot Noir

If you missed getting tickets to this year’s Pigs and Pinot festival, you can splurge on a weekend at the Hotel Healdsburg with its two-night “Pigs and Pinot-phile” package. Experience epicurean cuisine and award-winning Pinot Noir in the bucolic setting of Healdsburg. For more information, visit

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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