Pigs & Pinot

When: March 17 & 18

Where: Various Healdsburg locations

Auction: pigsandpinot.com/auction

More info: pigsandpinot.com

’Tis Pigs & Pinot season. The weekend of March 17-18, wine lovers will be celebrating the irresistible pairing of pork and pinot.

While there are a string of events Friday and Saturday, the biggest draw is Taste of Pigs & Pinot on Friday night at Hotel Healdsburg. Organizers are expecting 500-plus people.

Guests will be greeted with two rosés, then they’ll taste through 60 pinot noirs from Sonoma County and around the world, paired with pork dishes.

The tasting also will be riddled with suspense because the winner and runner-up of the Pinot Cup from the annual wine competition will be announced.

What makes the marriage of pork and pinot so crazy good?

Celebrity Chef Charlie Palmer co-created the event with Vintner Daryl Groom of Healdsburg’s Groom Wines, and he explained the appeal of the duo this way:

“It’s the dynamic nature of pinot noir and its multitudinous, fickle tendencies that go so well with the heritage pork. Similar to pinot’s myriad variations, pork, too, is versatile. Pork’s loins, chops, sausages, hams, and of course, bacons, are the perfect pairing for pinot. It’s fat forward and flavorful, rendering it (pun intended) the perfect pairing for pinot’s lighter, but flavor-forward, characteristics.”

This year is the 12th anniversary of Pigs & Pinot, and organizers expect to surpass the $1 million fund-raising mark for their local charities, scholarships and organizations, as well as Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign. The benefit has raised $860,000 to date.

This year, chef Palmer has partnered with Geoff Feder of Feder Knives to create custom crafted Pigs & Pinot chef knives for the participating celebrity chefs and for the 12 auction bidders. The auction is live now here: pigsandpinot.com/auction/#338.

The winner of the Pinot Cup will walk away with a metal, winged pig trophy. It’s whimsical, but it still stands for quality in pinot circles.

Last year’s winners of the Pinot Cup was O’Connell Vineyards, 2014 Estate Grown, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Runner-up was the Charlie Clay, 2013 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County.

“Wineries often get very competitive about the Pinot Cup, which is to be expected, but we also want them to have fun, year-in and year-out,” Palmer said. “The competition is serious, but there’s no shortage of fun.”