World of Pinot Noir's 10th year proves to be the best yet.

Pinot noir (French pronunciation: [pinoˈnwaʁ]), the name is derived from the French words for "pine" and "black" alluding to the varietals' tightly clustered dark purple pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit.
In the vineyard this varietal is sensitive to light exposure, cropping levels , soil types and pruning techniques. In the winery it is sensitive to fermentation methods, yeast strains and is highly reflective of its terroir with different regions producing very different wines. Its thin skin makes it highly susceptible to bunch rot and other fungal diseases.

Pinot wines are among the most popular in the world. Joel Fleischman of Vanity Fair describes Pinot noir as "the most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic." Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon calls pinot "sex in a glass" Peter Richardsson of OenoStyle christened it "a seductive yet fickle mistress!"

For lovers of this very special variety , there is only one place to be the first weekend in March . That would be in Shell Beach California to attend The World of Pinot Noir.
These two days include in-depth Tasting Seminars, Grand Tastings a Featured Tasting with a guest Burgundian producer, two Gala Pinot Noir Dinners and even a Santa Barbara style Paulée. All of these extraordinary food and wine extravaganzas are hosted by participating wineries and feature an outstanding Sommeliers from across the U.S.

The 10th World of Pinot Noir began with a Tasting of Vintage Old World Burgundies. This very intimate and tasting featured aged Burgundies from the cellars of the Court of Master Sommeliers. Led by Master Sommelier Fred Dame, each table was hosted by a master sommelier .

Friday afternoon was just the mid-point of the first day when guests joined more than 95 Pinot Noir producers from across the globe showing both current releases and library selections in three tasting tents located on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Gourmet appetizers prepared by Chef Gregg Wangard, Chef José Garcia and The Culinary Team of The Cliffs Resort as well as exceptional cheeses from The Cheese Shop Carmel/The Cheese Shop Santa Barbara allowed all of the attendees some nice walk around dishes as they enjoyed wonderful Pinot Noirs in Riedel Crystal Pinot Noir glass.

The evenings even get better with two Gala dinners featuring
An elegant evening at The Cliffs Resort Gala diner began with a white "Pinot Family" wine & sparkling wine reception on the Pool Terrace and passed hors d'oeuvres prepared by Chef José Garcia and The Culinary Team of The Cliffs Resort. Chef Roy Yamaguchi of the famed Roys of Hawaii, created an exceptional dishes that showcases his fusion cuisine.

Chef Roy Yamaguchi holds the distinct honor of being Hawaii's first recipient of the prestigious James Beard Award. Since he first introduced Roy's twenty years ago, he has evolved as one of most respected and celebrated chefs in the world today.

Right next door to the Cliffs is the Dolphin Bay Resort and another Gala dinner that their famed LIDO restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Chef Budi Kazali recently named the "Ultimate Chef for 2009" by Central Coast Magazine 2004 took over the Ballard Inn & Restaurant in Santa Barbara County, prepared an unforgettable meal featuring fresh local ingredients and his French-Asian cuisine that was truly mouth watering.

For those adventurous attendees, there was an opportunity to test their wine and food pairing skills against an Iron Sommelier panel! Eight wines and four culinary selections were evaluated "blind" with pairing and an interactive audience/panel discussion moderated by William Sherer MS.

Audience members were asked to provide an convincing argument for their favorite pairing. The winners were be awarded a magnum of that wine signed by the winemaker in attendance. This is one of the most sought after events over the years and the sommelier panelists always deliver an exciting experience .

A second tasting by the sea with more than 100 Pinot Noir producers from across the globe showed off both current releases and library selections to the attendees. With their Pinot glasses full , Guest were able to enjoy gourmet appetizers prepared by Chef Gregg Wangard, Chef José Garcia and The Culinary Team of The Cliffs Resort. Sample exceptional cheeses from The Cheese Shop Carmel/The Cheese Shop Santa Barbara.

The last night of the World of Pinot Noir provided us a very special treat. The Santa Barabara style Paulee Dinner is always a big success.
A Paulee Dinner , was inspired by the Burgundian tradition that celebrates the end of harvest. Traditionally, each attendee of the Paulée brings a special bottle to share with the group.

A special feature of this tradition is that each winery participant attending will bring a special bottle and guests are not required to bring a special bottling - unless, of course they want to.

Visiting Chefs from across the country shared their specialties in a buffet style dinner . Small plates were " at Chef Stations and of course gourmet cheese/bread tables were available throughout the venue. This years participating chefs included :

Rob Baker, Me and the Hound, Monterey Peninsula CA

David Garwicki and David Reardon, Bacara Resort, Santa Barbara CA

Frank Ostini, Hitching Post II, Buellton CA

Cal Stamenov, Marinus at Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley CA,Clark Staub, Full of Life Flatbread, Los Alamos CA, Paolo Stoltz, The Men's Club, Dallas TX, Craig Von Foerster, Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur CA

The World of Pinot Noir is not only a Meca for Pinot lovers but for foodies as well. Its beautiful location over looking the Pacific Ocean at the the Cliffs resort for the two tastings as well as the seminars , dinners and much more make the World of Pinot Noir the ONLY place to be the first weekend in March . Mark your calendars for 2011, we certainly know we will.

Join VINO LAS VEGAS as we take you to World of Pinot Noir 2010 , experience some great wines and speak with winemakers from around the world

Don and Lindsey Schroeder' Chien Wines have a story of love and passion for wine and dogs

VINO LAS VEGAS has been well acquainted with Don and Lindsey Schroeder for several years . And have been fortunate to have seen them acquire well deserved recognition for their hard work.

Many may find the name CHIEN an interesting name for a wine. However , If you meet Don and Lindsey you know it fits them to a tee !

Don and Lindsey moved to the Lompoc Valley from Eureka, CA in early 2000 to help Don's mother and stepfather by overseeing the installation of their vineyard, which is now the award winning Ampelos Vineyard.

As the vineyard implementation was under way they longed to have a friend on the ranch with them. Living in a farming community everyone seemed to have a "vineyard" dog . In May of 2000 they visited the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society to see about adopting a dog. After carefully perusing each animal Don was drawn to one specific dog. All of the dogs had leapt at them in their kennels as if to say “PLEASE PICK ME!"

One dog did not. He was the only one to growl at them and for some reason Don felt that he could provide a home for him . The next day they returned to adopt Bear, a 2 year old male, Chow-Chow/Labrador mix breed. After trying unsuccessfully for almost 2 hours to get Bear in the truck they finally got him home. He had been neglected and abused before they brought him into their lives and for the first few nights , Bear would not come in the house without picking him up and carrying him inside . Every time they would leave the house he would scream and cry and when they would return home he would cry as if to tell them “thank you for coming back.”

Over the next few months Bear and Don developed a special bond. Eight years later Bear is an extremely well adjusted, happy dog that loves to cuddle and receive all the love that is given to him. We at VINO LAS VEGAS can attest to what a great dog Bear has become , and even enjoys running through the vineyards with our own dog we we visit.

"We chose the name Chien for one very simple reason. We have two passions in our lives, dogs and wine. Because we love the wines of Alsace we chose the name Chien which is the French word for “dog”. We feel that after raising 2 dogs, especially one that was so badly abused, making wine has a very similar foundation. Lots of love, patience and persistence is needed. We have that in abundance for Bear, Shady and Chien " Don said.

Don took a job for the 2000 harvest with Babcock Vineyards and his passion for wine was born and he never looked back. Don said " I had always enjoyed drinking wine and after working those first long days of harvest the passion inside me flourished". Over the next few years , Don worked at various wineries and furthered his passion for wine and the wine industry. He is currently the wine maker for the renowned Seasmoke Cellars

Don and Lindsey launched their own label with Chien Wine . After harvest of 2006 they decided to make a small batch of an Alsace blend for the next harvest and created Edelzwicker, meaning “noble wine”, this wine is a traditional white blend of Alsace. The 2008 Edelzwicker was even named Wine of the Week by the LA times in March 2010.

Their blend consists of Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gewurtztraminer. This crisp, balanced blend truly represents what they believe are the many beautiful qualities of these often under appreciated varietals. With the release of their 2009 vintage they introduce the first Santa Barbara County, and third California Gruner Veltliner.

The 2008 Edelzwicker started with 1.3 tons of Pinot Blanc from Bien Nacido Vineyard and 2 tons of Riesling from Camp 4 vineyards. Each batch was picked under 24 brix and fermented separately in stainless steel tanks. This wine has never seen oak barrels. Their belief is that ‘in order to express the purest varietal characteristics, and preserve the quality of a white wine, it must be made in stainless steel.’ They bought a few gallons of Gewurtztraminer and added it to the final blend.

The Edelzwicker was bottled in early February 2008 and will show best in 3-5 years, it is meant to be a graceful ageing wine.


Santa Barbara County
Alcohol: 14.1%
pH: 3.2
TA: 7.6 g/L
RS: 0.6%

Don and Lindsey have such passion and love in everythinjg they do and this can we tasted in their Chien wines as well. We look forward to their next vintage and other white varietals that are sometimes over looked. For more about Don , Lindsey and Chien wines please visit

They also support a very admirable cause with their wines. Chien will donate a portion of their profits each year to a very deserving animal rescue foundation, Noah’s Ark. Noah’s Ark has been rescuing and rehabilitating abused and neglected animals and children for 30 years. If you would like to donate directly to Noah’s Ark you can do so at their website:

An up close look at the newest AVA , Happy Canyon in Santa Barbara County

Happy Canyon AVA was approved in October and was based on a petition written by vintner Wes Hagen, whose Clos Pepe Vineyards are located in the nearby Sta. Rita Hills. Wes Hagen had previously written the petition that established Sta. Rita Hills as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 2001. We have watched the process of establishing the AVA over the last few years and It was a long time coming.

Happy Canyon AVA includes 23,941 acres and lies in the eastern part of the 40-mile-wide Santa Ynez Valley and the northern part of Santa Barbara County, California and comprises canyon terrain, hills, and river and creek basins to the east and south of the San Rafael Mountains, west of Lake Cachuma, and north of the Santa Ynez River.

For hose not so familiar with the Santa Ynez area , Happy Canyon is approximately 3 miles to the east of Highway 154, and some 5 miles from Los Olivos or Santa Ynez. Located at different elevations, the four vineyards of Happy Canyon Barrack, Starlane, Vogelzang and Westerly are situated at different elevations and on different soils. At the hotter end of the Santa Ynez Valley, Happy Canyon maintains the theme of warm days and cool marine influence with a few variations.


Of all the grape-growing areas in the Santa Ynez Valley, Happy Canyon is the furthest inland and has the warmest climate. It is located in the easternmost part of the Santa Ynez Valley, and the daytime highs and nighttime lows in that part of the county vary more in a 24-hour period than those in other parts of the valley. At about 12 miles west of the AVA, the inland mountain ranges change direction from west-east to north-south. The north-south mountain ridge blocks the Pacific coastal breezes, preventing them from cooling the canyon. As a result, the ridge traps in heat in Happy Canyon during the warmer growing months.


Elevations within the Happy Canyon boundary line range from 500 feet in the southwest corner to 3,430 feet in the northeast corner, in the foothills of the San Rafael Range. Between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Valley, hills and mountains trend west to east. As the elevation of the Santa Ynez Valley rises from west to east, the hills and mountains turn from a west-east direction to a generally north-south direction. The Happy Canyon viticultural area is located inland and lies along mountains and hills with a north-south orientation.

What makes Happy Canyon so different is its hot climate. The Sta. Rita Hills at the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley is the ideal climate for Pinot Noir. Hot Happy Canyon with its rolling terrain, high slopes and varied soils seem to be one of the best areas in the Central Coast for growing Bordeaux varieties. The soils in Happy Canyon range from sand and gravel to loam (rich soils composed of sand, silt and clay mixed with organic matter) .

The microclimates of higher elevations in this region have less temperature variation because the days stay cooler and the nights stay warmer than at lower elevations. This climate is best for Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc. The heat is also good for Syrah and other Rhône varieties as well.

This newest AVA just adds to the diversity of Sanata Barabara County wines. The upcoming Santa Barbara County Vintners festival is a great opportunity to sample wines and visit America's newest wine appellation.

The Santa Barbara County Vintners Festival Welcomes the beginning's of vintage 2010

Having just returned from the Sta. Rita Hills we noticed The winter rains have produced a lush and beautiful cover crop and the hills are alive with the signature poppies and lupines that signal bud break on the vines. This could mean only one thing , One of our favorite events that we have covered for years is right around the corner.

The Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association will be celebrating this rite of the season with their 28th annual Vintners’ Festival, to be held this year at River Park in Lompoc - the “City of Arts and Flowers” and VINO LAS VEGAS will be there.

The festival features the wines of 130+ members of the Association, live and lively music, a silent auction and wine country cuisine by the area’s finest chefs.

This great event which runs from 1:00 to 4:00, is hosted by the vintners and winemakers and they will be pouring their latest releases of wine alongside more than two dozen local restaurants, caterers and purveyors of specialty foods.

The fresh new foods and wines of spring will be the focus, along with live and lively music to put a “Spring” in your step. Add to that a Silent Auction to benefit local charities, art displays from area artists and a day of wine country camaraderie – a fitting welcome for the beginnings of the first vintage of this new decade.

In Santa Barbara County, the unique east-west orientation of the coastal mountains forms valleys opening directly to the Pacific Ocean. This unique topography allows the flow of fog and ocean breezes to shape distinct microclimates, perfect for the cultivation of classic grape varietals and world class wines.

The 50 miles stretch from Point Conception to Rincon constitutes the longest east-west traverse of shoreline from Alaska to Cape Horn. Here, the Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains form a unique coastal range - the inland flow of fog and ocean breezes make the region one of the coolest viticultural areas in California. This means that the fruit has an unusually long "hang time" on the vine, allowing it to fully develop the acids, flavors and tannins needed to produce wines of distinctive character.

Within Santa Barbara County there are three distinct appellations: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Sta. Rita Hills. In addition, the Los Alamos Valley region, between the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley appellations, remains a strong and successful grape growing region. Slightly less than half of the grapes grown in Santa Barbara County are used by local vintners, with the balance are exported to wineries outside the area.

This area has to be one of our favorite areas in California. This amazing group of wineries and vineyards owners are still "farmers" in the true sense of the word. You can taste their passion with every sip of a wine from this one of a kind area. Join VINO LAS VEGAS once again and spend the weekend in the vineyards and tasting rooms of Santa Barbara County and enjoy some of our nations best wines. For tickets and more information please go to

See you there !

Renowned Viticulturist Joe Bastianich to Headline First-Ever Vegas Uncork’d Event Pairing Wine with Music

Photo by: Kelly Cambell

Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit Debuts
Palazzo After Hours – Crushed: Wine that Rocks!

The Palazzo Resort has always proven to us that it was "THE" Place to be on the famed Las vegas Strip.On May 8th the Palazzo shines when Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit, the culinary world’s most extraordinary epicurean event held this year from May 6-9, introduces to its 2010 lineup Palazzo After Hours – Crushed: Wine that Rocks! This new event takes place May 8 poolside at The Palazzo beginning at 10:30 p.m.

With Crushed, restaurateur, winemaker and rock and roller Joe Bastianich pairs the great wines of the world with the greatest music of all time. Accompanied by Scott Ian of Anthrax and the electrifying band Six Foot Nurse, Bastianich will lead guests and chefs on a synesthetic exploration of explosive tunes from Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, asking the audience to listen with their palates and taste with their ears. Along with outstanding wines, this poolside afterhours celebration also features signature bites from the allstar lineup at The Venetian and The Palazzo, including a Slider Bar from First Food and Bar Executive Chef Sam DeMarco, salumi and cheese from executive chef Zach Allen of Carnevino, and a Rockin' Wing Bar from Chef de Cuisine Vince Chiyuto of Lagasse's Stadium.

“Held in what is hands-down the most exciting epicurean environment anywhere, Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit makes an ideal backdrop for introducing the Crushed concept to a sophisticated and – most importantly – fun-loving audience,” said Bastianich.

Bastianich, who owns B&B Ristorante at The Venetian in partnership with Chef Mario Batali, joins a roster of Vegas Uncork’d personalities that includes some of the world’s most recognized chefs and decorated sommeliers. Unlike that found at other major culinary events, all epicurean talent headlining programs at Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit maintains a Las Vegas restaurant or works in its kitchens or wine cellars every day.

“We are honored to add The Venetian | The Palazzo, as well as Joe Bastianich, an icon within the wine and spirits world, to this year’s event,” said Paul Jowdy, publisher, Bon Appétit magazine. “We’ve always believed in the vitality of Las Vegas and its culinary scene, so it comes as no surprise that more and more top names in the epicurean arena taking note and signing on to be part of Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit.”

Added Rob O’Keefe, executive director of Vegas Uncork’d: “Each year, our goal is to build upon the previous event’s success by carefully selecting innovative, new offerings to add to the schedule. Crushed fits perfectly into this strategy

The playground for Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit is destination wide and features five anchor partner resorts, each of which offers an enviable roster of on-site restaurants and in-house chefs: Bellagio, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and Wynn | Encore.

Joining the lineup for the first time this year as an associate partner is The Venetian | The Palazzo. The event’s charitable partner is the Three Square Food Bank, which is dedicated to providing wholesome food to hungry people, while passionately pursuing a hunger-free community.

To purchase tickets and to see more information about this year’s event lineup, please visit There, you may also opt in to receive information about additional events as they are added to the schedule.

Joe Bastianich is a passionate winemaker, teacher and restaurateur whose collection of restaurants with partner Mario Batali includes Las Vegas’ B&B Ristorante and New York City’s Babbo, which earned three coveted stars from The New York Times and the prestigious Best New Restaurant in America award from the James Beard Foundation.

In 2005, he was recognized as an Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional by both the James Beard Foundation and Bon Appetit magazine.

Most recently, he and Mario were awarded the 2008 James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Restaurateur Award.

Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit is made possible by the following sponsors: the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, exclusive travel partner Travelocity and exclusive automotive sponsor Infiniti.

Thirty Seven Candidates try but only two pass the Court of Masters three day Master Sommelier Exam

The nation’s top wine professionals gathered at the Meadowood Resort in California’s Napa Valley last week to administer the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Masters Exam, a daunting three‐day test that measures a sommelier’s knowledge of wine theory, beverage service and tasting ability. After years of preparation, thirty‐seven candidates attempted the exam, but only two would pass: Melissa Monosoff of Savona Restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Eric Entrikin of Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, California. They join a select group of 103 other Americans who have successfully completed the rigorous examination and are members of the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Masters Monosoff and Entrikin were officially welcomed to the Court at a champagne reception sponsored by Krug on Thursday, February 25, 2010. “On behalf of the entire Court, I would like to congratulate all thirty‐seven candidates for reaching the final stage of the examination process, and heartily welcome both Master Monosoff and Master Entrikin to our organization,” said Jay Fletcher, Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers. “They truly represent the best of the best and we look forward to their future contributions to the Court and the wine industry as a whole.”

“The quality and caliber of the candidates at this exam was outstanding,” noted Tim Gaiser, the Education Director for the American Chapter of the Court. “However, Melissa and Eric stood a head above the rest, demonstrating a superior knowledge of wine theory, an advanced understanding of beverage service, and an unparalleled tasting ability.”

Master Monosoff began her journey as a Master Sommelier in culinary school, but soon learned that her true passion was wine. She first enrolled in the Court’s Introductory Course in 2002 in Napa Valley and has spent the last eight years pursuing the goal of Master Sommelier with dogged determination. Her studies led her to London, California, and even Ohio, but the night before her exam found her in the exact same hotel where she had first stayed in 2002.

“I am thrilled to have passed the Masters Exam in the very same place where my journey first began,” said Master Monosoff. “It has been a long and sometimes difficult road, but earning the title of Master Sommelier has made it all worth it. It is an incredible honor and I am very grateful to all those who have helped me along the way.”

Master Entrikin leads the wine team at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, California, and cited both the support of his restaurant and the mentorship within the Court as key factors in his successful examination last Thursday.

“Passing the Masters Exam is the greatest moment of my life,” said Eric. “It was extraordinarily difficult and took years of preparation, but standing here among this remarkable group of Master Sommeliers is both humbling and inspiring. I look forward to the opportunity to mentor others through this process so they can share in the joy of this moment.”

“As just the third Master in the United States, it has been a pleasure to watch the Court grow and mature over the years,” said Frederick Dame, Chairman Emeritus of American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers and current President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. “Having thirtyseven worthy candidates in one sitting is remarkable. I look forward to working with all of these sommeliers in the future and offer my sincere congratulations to Masters Entrikin and Monosoff on their outstanding exam performances.”

Our congratulations to both Melissa and Eric for achieving this lifetime accomplishment

Cheers !

Bledsoe Family Winery Opens Its Walla Walla Winery At The Box Factory Location.

Not long-ago Drew Bledsoe was throwing touchdowns in the NFL. Shortly after his retirement in 2007,  they planted their first vineyard. ...

Blog Archive