By Peg San Felippo, Special to   Published Aug 31, 2008 at 8:21 AM

When I think of great California pinot noirs my first thought is Patz & Hall Winery in Napa Valley. Wine lovers here in Milwaukee have the unique opportunity to try the winery's handcrafted wines and talk with owner-partner Donald Patz on Sept. 4-5.

Patz is at The Milwaukee Public Market for a wine tasting on Thursday, Sept. 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The cost is $25 per person and includes samples of five Patz & Hall wines and appetizers.

Bacchus hosts a winemaker dinner on Friday, Sept. 5 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The event includes five courses featuring Atlantic skate, roasted quail and lamb loin. The price per person is $95 plus tax and gratuity.

I met Patz five years ago at the Kapalua Wine and Food in Hawaii, and we quickly became friends. What I like about him other than he makes really nice wines is his dry sense of humor. He's also a voracious reader, great dancer, good cook and loves music. (He recently worked out an East Coast business trip to coincide with the last U.S. stop of The Police tour.)

The winery story begins in 1985 when Patz was working as the national sales manager for Flora Springs winery where he became friends with the assistant winemaker James Hall. In 1988 the two were joined by partners Ann Moses and Heather Patz and founded Patz & Hall Winery.

The first couple years were lean and the partners worked for other wineries to support the new venture. By the 1995 Patz was on board full-time and 20 years after it began, Patz & Hall is known for world class, highly rated Wine Spectator chardonnays and pinot noirs.

If I had to describe Patz & Hall wines in one word it would be elegant. Its pinot noirs showcase red fruit and spices while the chardonnays have bright acidity with apple, lemon and soft vanilla and mineral notes. All the wines have a complex artisanal quality with long and pleasantly persistent finishes.

 The Patz & Hall philosophy of producing small lot, single vineyard wines continues today. Currently it produces seven chardonnays and eight pinot noirs with a yearly production of 30,000 cases.

"I'm looking forward to coming to Milwaukee," Patz told me. "The top restaurants in Wisconsin have been big supporters of Patz & Hall wines the past few years and we have a lot of local fans there of our chardonnay and pinot noir wines. Milwaukee is a fun town!"

If you're too busy to make either event, Patz &Hall wines are available at various retail locations including the Sendik's stores in Brookfield and Franklin, Thief wine shop and bar in the Milwaukee Public Market and Wine Cellars of Wisconsin in Elm Grove. Prices range from $30 to $80.