Chris Kleinman, Director of Food and Beverage Service, and Nicole Simington, Dining Room Service Manager, each attended Pinot Camp in the Willamette Valley in Oregon—Chris in 2017 and Nicole in 2019.
A rare and exclusive opportunity limited to only 200 supporters of Oregon wine from around the world, Pinot Camp shows attendees everything that goes into the process of growing, cultivating, and making wine relating to their region. Chris and Nicole attended thanks to a sponsorship from Elk Cove winery.
“You’re shown every step, walk the actual vineyards and even taste the soil—literally,” said Chris. “The community of winemakers and employees all bond together to show off the special place that Oregon is and put on one of the most memorable experiences I have ever been a part of.”
The camp treats attendees to a week’s worth of very specialized tours and tastings all throughout the valley—all while networking with other industry professionals and winemakers.
“Throughout the four days of camp, we explored multiple vineyards, tasted through hundreds of amazing wines—from Bubbly, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Riesling to the most beloved Pinot Noir,” said Nicole, noting that the experience taught her so much more about the world of wine. “I absolutely love working in a service industry that allows me to grow and share what I learn with others in order to help create a more enjoyable experience for all. Wine is really something everyone can enjoy, especially when they have a little more understanding of it. However, as complex as wine can seem, it’s quite simple: The best way to learn is to enjoy good wine with good food, friends and family, while making great memories!”
Chris agrees and says that attending Pinot Camp has changed his whole career path.
“I came back so charged and full of drive to learn and fine tune my craft as a food and beverage professional,” said Chris, adding that networking with other professionals gave him a good measuring stick for his own level of skill and where he needed to grow to become better and more valuable as a leader at the club. “I really got a sense of how much opportunity is out there from interacting with people who came from so many different backgrounds professionally that led them to camp.”
Nicole appreciated the culture embraced by Oregon wine makers and their sustainable approach to wine making, from the vineyards to the bottle.
“They’re not out to be better than one another, instead they each respect each other’s individuality and support for their communal growth,” she said. “This is exactly what we strive for here at the club, across all departments: Teamwork—because it really does make the dream work; from supporting our local community when it comes to choosing fresh ingredients for our menu to creating ways to be more eco-friendly.”
Both Chris and Nicole expressed vast gratitude for being able to attend Pinot Camp.
“I feel humbled to have been included among such great company and such professional staff at every turn,” said Chris, who now has a group text with 10 of his new friends from camp. “The people I met, the wines I tasted, the beauty of Oregon all were just so much more than I could have ever believed.”
“It truly was such an inspiring experience,” said Nicole. “If you haven’t yet, I dare you to dive a little deeper in all that Oregon has to offer, I promise you will not be disappointed.”