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2018 Counter Culture

By Mark Stock

Back for the ninth consecutive year, Counter Culture has become the unofficial kick-off to a busy IPNC weekend. Set amid Anne Amie Vineyards’ sprawling grounds, the event spotlights small-plate bites from a host of Northwest chefs alongside wines from near and far. And, given its welcoming demeanor and festive atmosphere, it’s also become the populist counterpart to a weekend that tends to be a bit more exclusive.

Highlights from Counter Culture 2018 included nibbles from Big’s Chicken and Bollywood Theater, along with addictive slices from Portland’s Pizza Jerk and typically rustic fare from Ned Ludd. Wolves & People provided a small but significant beer presence, pouring its outstanding Grisette — a refreshing field beer of sorts — and an IPA. Wines of note were poured by the likes of Lenné Estate, Hiyu and James Rahn Wine Co., whose extended skin-contact Pinot Gris was arguably the most interesting of the evening.

“This year’s event saw the best turnout in Counter Culture’s nine year history,” says Matt Tracy, events manager at Anne Amie. All told, 15 labels and importers offered their wares alongside more than a dozen restaurants and a brewery. The gathering featured its customary DJ sets and lawn games, set to a dazzling Coast Range sunset that almost certainly made it into quite a few Instagram feeds. The backyard bash feel of the event is still very much in tact, much to Counter Culture’s credit.

For those who can’t afford the main International Pinot Noir Celebration event — or, simply prefer something less formal and more inclusive — there’s hardly a better late summer soiree than Counter Culture. The personnel is made up primarily of chefs, owners and winemakers, allowing attendees to geek out about vinification approaches or pairing ideas, should they want to go that route. Perhaps most importantly, it’s echoes the fact that folks want to take part in this annual bash, even those who have put up with their fair share of industry and trade events.

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