The First weekend in March should mean only one thing to “PinotPhiles” and wine lovers worldwide and that is the World of Pinot Noir celebrating its 11th Annual Event this year. For many years we have engraved this weekend in to our calendar as a permanent event just like a birthday or holiday.
Heading down California’s famed Pacific Coast Highway ( PCH ) with aromas of the Pacific Ocean in our face , excitement took over when we pulled into the Cliffs Resort and Spa which is the epicenter of The World of Pinot Noir and its 4 day celebration of this very special varietal.
This event wastes no time in getting the guests involved. The first morning started right off with Three Seminars including a “International Round Table “ where Winemakers from Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and Chile conducted a panel discussion , presenting their wines and discussing the unique challenges of pinot noir in their respective part of the world. Guests that choose to get technical could attend a Seminar on Alcohol and Balance which provided a lively discussion with a panel including both winemaker and sommelier panelists - on both sides of this controversial issue. Panelists included Rajat Parr, Adam Lee (Siduri), Adam Tolmach (The Ojai Vineyard), Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat), Josh Jensen (Calera Wine Company), and Michael Browne (Kosta Browne Winery) and was moderated by Eric Asimov, New York Times. And for a real treat, guests could enjoy a Vintage Burgundy tasting with the legendary Fred Dame MS at the very beautiful Edna Valley Vineyard.
Most wine events we have attended over the years offer a “Grand Tasting “ , but the World of Pinot Noir offers two “Pinot Noir by the Sea Grand Tastings” on Friday and Saturday offering a different world wine line up of exceptional Pinot Noirs.
A new, very fun event offered this year was a Dinner Extravaganza hosted by Chamisal Vineyards “Dine Local , Drink Global “. Guests enjoyed great dishes from several central coast chefs including Featured Chef Jeff Olsson of New West, plus individual courses and appetizers from Pier 46, Central City Market, Luna Red, Full of Life Flatbread and The Cheese Shop. Dining in the winery with winemakers while enjoying their great works of art and continuing on to dance the night away among the fermentation tanks with local band Area 51 was a wonderful new event that is sure to be one of the featured events from years to come.
|Iconic Winemakers Kathy Joseph and Ken Brown|
With the pace picking up on the second day , guests had many choices to choose from. A very interesting Burundian “Young Turks “ Tasting and lunch featuring young and upcoming wine makers from Burgundy with Alexandrine Roy of Domaine Marc Roy and Thomas Bouley of Jean-Marc Bouley was a chance to see rising stars that will continue the great Burgundian art for years to come . For those that were in the mood for a hike, WOPN provided a great opportunity for a Vineyard hike and lunch at Edna Ranch . Some guests may prefer a nice motor coach tour and as always WOPN aims to please everyone. A visit to Stephen Ross , Clairborne & Churchill and Laetitia where lunch provided a nice comfortable way to spend the afternoon before returning back to the Cliffs Resort for the Pinot Noir by the Sea Grand Tasting .
A Long standing WOPN tradition is the Saturday night Santa Barbara Style Paulee Dinner . This year’s event was no exception, hosted by winemaker Jim Clendenen. We always enjoy the culinary creations of celebrity chefs paired with pinot noir from participating producers, many in large format bottles. In the spirit of Paulée, guests bring a bottle of pinot to share with everyone . This year’s Chef line up was pretty impressive with Chef Cal Stamenov, Marinus at Bernardus Lodge , Chef Craig von Foerster, Post Ranch Inn ,Chef Rob Baker, Me and the Hound, Chef Evan Treadwell, Lido at The Dolphin Bay,Chef DK Kodama, Sansei.Chef Keith Endo, VINO,Chef Moose Nakamura, Sansei and Chef Clark Staub, Full of Life Flatbread teaming up to provide some mouthwatering creations.
Another new event and sure to be a favorite is the Sunday Brunch and walk around tasting by the Sea on Sunday Morning. This very nice , low key event with over 50 wineries in attendance provided guests a nice way to put an explanation point on a very special weekend.
The World of Pinot Noir is in a class by itself and this years 11th Annual event was no exception. Providing an educational experience, the opportunity to enjoy world class Pinot Noir and dining with celebrity Chefs, The World of Pinot Noir offers something for everyone.
This year’s new additions of the Friday Dinner Extravaganza and the Sunday Brunch and Walk around tasting show that WOPN is continuing to evolve and provide its guests new and exciting options as well as keeping the traditional events that keep people coming back year after year. The first weekend in March 2012 we know where we will be ! Will you ?