Lisa Rigisich thinks wine shouldn't be so highbrow and fancy.
"It should be more like beer," said the co-producer of Pinot Days, a festival celebrating the pinot noir grape that will be at the in Santa Monica on Saturday.
The event will feature over 100 winemakers and/or their representatives pouring tastes of more than 300 of their wines.
"It's one of our annual events," said Joe Loving, vice president of sales for the Barker Hangar. "And it's one that we like a lot."
Rigisich and her husband, Steve Rigisich, have made a career of making pinot noir wines accessible to a wide swath of people with their Pinot Days festivals and grand tastings.
"It's a labor of love, and it's become my full-time job," Lisa Rigisich said.
There are three, soon to be four, festivals each year, with the original in San Francisco, where the Rigisichs live, another in Chicago, and the Southern California one in Santa Monica. This April, they will stage the fourth festival in Dallas.
Rigisich said she and her husband started the festival in 2005 after moving to San Francisco from New York. They saw all sorts of other similar festivals dedicated to other grapes, such as the famous ZAP festival for zinfandel, but nothing for pinot noir. So they decided to put on a small festival, with only 40 producers, and were expecting not more than a couple hundred people.
"About a month before that [the movie] Sideways came out," Rigisich said.
The movie features Paul Giamatti as a pinot-loving wine connoisseur and resulted in an increased interest in the wines made from the grape. Rigisich said that in one day, the event had sold more than 1,200 tickets and they suddenly had to go round up more winemakers.
This is the third festival the couple has put on in Santa Monica and Rigisich said that they like the Barker Hangar for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it's more relaxed than a more formal space.
"It's an airplane hangar," Rigisich said. "It's very kitschy and cool, but it's not fancy. The floor is cement."
Winemaker Joshua Klapner, of La Fenetre wines, he likes doing the festival mostly because of the Rigisichs.
"Lisa is great," Klapner said. "And her husband is great. They're super, super professional, which leads to a great event."
Dena Drews, who with her partner Ernie Pinks, is pretty much the entire operating staff of Amalie Robert Estate, a winery in the North Willamette Valley of Oregon, has participated in the San Francisco festival numerous times and decided this year to come to the Santa Monica event.
"It gets us out of the rain for a day," she joked, referring to Oregon's much wetter climate. But more importantly, she said, they decided to come because they liked working the San Francisco event so much. "I think the biggest thing about pinot noir is the enthusiasm of the people involved."
Loving, for his part, said that the festival is a popular event, and even better, relatively simple to stage compared to the many movie shoots and red carpet events often held at the hangar.
"This is a rare nice easy-going simple event," he said. In addition, he attends this one. "It seems to be a popular thing for my friends to want to come to."
1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Barker Hangar, 3021 Airport Avenue, Suite 203. Tickets are $60. Click here to view all of this year's exhibitors.