Pinot Noir producers and lovers from all around the world will converge on the first weekend of March at the 2016 World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara. This year is the 16th Annual World of Pinot Noir and it is going to take place on Friday, March 4th and Saturday, March 5th at Bacara Resort & Spa. This festival of Tasting Seminars, Grand Tastings, Gourmet Lunches and Winemaker Dinners offers plenty of celebrations to choose from.
Two of our favorite parts of the World of Pinot Noir are its two separate Pinot Noir by the Sea Grand Tastings with about 100 different producers at each session. The Grand Tasting sessions take place between 3 and 6 pm each day (tickets are $110) or you can purchase early access tickets allowing you to enter 30 minutes early (for an additional $25). This is a comprehensive chance to “get current” on the latest wines made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in places such as the Carneros Region, Russian River Valley, Santa Maria, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Ynez, Sonoma Coast, and the Willamette Valley.
For example sixteen domestic wineries we are really looking forward to enjoying at this year’s Grand Tastings are Archery Summit, Au Bon Climat, Bergström Wines, Bouchaine Vineyards, Brewer-Clifton, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Goldeneye, Kosta Browne Winery, Merry Edwards Winery, Morgan Winery, Presqu’ile Winery, Sea Smoke, Stephen Ross Wine Cellars, Talisman Wines, Talley Vineyards and Wayfarer.
On the international front, the WOPN Grand Tastings will also include Domaine GILLE (France), Jansz Tasmania (Australia), Maori Point Vineyard (New Zealand), Villa Maria (New Zealand), and representatives from Loire Valley Wineries and Wine Australia.
World of Pinot Noir Grand Tasting event attendees will also be able to enjoy food samples and small bites from the host hotel in between sips. Last year, the Bacara kitchen served up tastes such as Vegetarian Spring Rolls, Roasted Beet and Herbed Goat Cheese Tart, Santa Barbara Prawns with Avocado Relish, Chicken Wellington with Bernaise Sauce and Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Chimichurri.
Each year, the WOPN Grand Tastings also provide a food purveyor specializing in cheese, with friendly and knowledgeable staff members offering samples from around the world such as Camembert, Campo de Montalban, Fourme d’Ambert, Garrotxa and Tomme Crayeuse (to pair with your Pinot Noirs from around the world). This year’s cheesemonger, once again, will be C’est Cheese, a charming gourmet food store and lunch café based in downtown Santa Barbara.
World of Pinot Noir is a premier wine event offering intriguing educational components as well as unparalleled food opportunities. Keep reading and we’ll describe the main activities of the festival and the associated costs. Tickets are available by going here or by clicking on the logo above but you should move quickly before activities (and/or passes) sell out.
2016 World of Pinot Noir: Friday, March 4th Events
From Bubbles to Burgundy Seminar and Lunch, 9 am – 2 pm ($225)
Author John Haeger will moderate a group through two experiences: a Sparkling Evolution and the Diversity of Maison Joseph Drouhin’s Burgundy. In the first session, learn about today’s sparkling wine world, where low or zero-dosage Champagnes challenge the style of traditional Bruts and skilled winemakers from California and Oregon make terroir-driven, single-vineyard sparkling wines. In the second session, host Frédéric Drouhin from the World of Pinot Noir’s featured Burgundy producer, Maison Drouhin, guides you through wines that will demonstrate why the Climats of Burgundy were recently chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Seminar guests will then be treated to a three-course luncheon prepared by the Bacara culinary team.
Pinot Noir by the Sea Friday Focus Tasting Friday, 3:30 – 6:30 pm ($110, or $135 for entrance at 3:00 pm)
Enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean as you immerse yourself in the World of Pinot Noir. The Friday Focus Tasting will feature Pinot Noir from more than 100 producers including Ancien Wines, Balletto Vineyards, Bernardus Winery, Copain Wines, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Fog Crest Vineyard, Inman Family Wines, Montemar Wines, The Four Graces and WALT Wines.
Mingle and meet the winemakers and principals and nibble on wine country appetizers (and don’t miss the cheese display from C’est Cheese). In addition, you can bid at a Silent Auction (with items including large format and rare finds) with proceeds benefiting the Michael Bonaccorsi Scholarship Fund and the Keith Patterson Memorial Endowment at Cal Poly.
Regional Cuisine Spotlight Dinners, 7:30 pm ($120)
Friday night offers a set of three intimate multi-course dinners (paired with Pinot Noirs, of course) to choose from. Just as Pinot Noir from each region has its own character, so does the food on the table to accompany it:
- Chef Frank Ostini with Hitching Post II (Buellton, California) is the guest chef at the South by Southwest dinner, featuring the “ranchero” cuisine of the Southwest
- The “bourgeois” foods of the French countryside will be prepared at a 6-course plated dinner by Bacara Executive Chef Vincent Lesage
- The earthy, savory cuisine of the Pacific Northwest will be featured at a 6-course dinner from Chef Jason French of Nedd Ludd and Elder Hall (both in Portland, Oregon)
Burgundy Dinner, 7:30 pm ($350)
The Bacara Cellar is the venue for a very intimate dinner (limited to 36 guests) with Burgundy producer Frédéric Drouhin. He has selected wines such as Beaune Clos des Mouches blanc 2010, Chambolle Musigny Premier Cru 2009, Vosne Romanee Petits Morits 2006, Beaune Clos des Mouches rouge 1996 and Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 1990.
2016 World of Pinot Noir: Saturday, March 5th Events
La Cote d’Or March Madness, 9 am – 2 pm ($250)
This seminar and tasting will be a premier cru tournament pitting the best red wine villages of the Côte de Nuits against the best of the Côte de Beaune in a village vs. village confrontation. Within the Côte d’Or, the Côte de Nuits enjoys a reputation for producing Burgundy’s finest red wines, while the supremacy of the Côte de Beaune rests within its white wines (although they also have red wine appellations which command great respect). Come taste and judge for yourself, and then enjoy a three-course luncheon prepared by the Baraca culinary team.
Pinot, Cheese and Chocolate, 10 am – 2 pm ($99)
Pinot Noir is one of the most food friendly wines on the planet and here’s an opportunity to try it paired with both cheeses and chocolates, helped by moderator Matt Kettman. Explore whether Oregon Bleu pairs with more than just Oregon Pinot Noir, and how well Pinot Noirs match up to aged, pasteurized and/or fresh cheeses. Then, be guided through chocolate pairings from Jessica Foster, a Santa Barbara-based chocolatier who infuses her confections to create intriguing flavors like dark chocolate chile and star anise & thyme milk chocolate.
Pinot Noir by the Sea Saturday Grand Tasting, 3 pm – 6 pm ($110, or $135 for entrance at 2:30 pm)
Time again to immerse yourself in the World of Pinot Noir. Saturday’s Grand Tasting will feature wines from over 120 producers (different than the ones that poured on Friday) including Alma Fria, Deovlet Wines, Hahn Family Wines, Ken Brown Wines, Mansfield-Dunne Wines, Patz & Hall, Saintsbury, Trombetta Family Wines, Windward Vineyard and Wrath Wines.
Pioneers & Protegés Dinner, 7 pm ($165)
When the passion for Pinot Noir is transferred from teacher to apprentice, does the hand of the winemaker influence those who follow in his/her path? This dinner will feature pairings of not just wine with cuisine, but teachers with their students. Come see for yourself how much the protégé wines do (or do not) differ stylistically from those of their tutors. Stories will be told, wines will be poured, and you will enjoy a 7-course meal from the Bacara culinary team.
Rock Stars of Pinot Noir Dinner, 7 pm ($165)
Celebrate the “rock stars” of the wine world and help honor Josh Jensen, one of the industry’s visionaries who planted his iconic vineyards on the heights of Mount Harlan. In addition to Calera wines from Mt. Harlan and the Chalone AVA, winemakers who craft a Pinot featuring the Calera selection will also be pouring their wines. Music will be provided by the Tepusquet Tornadoes and fresh, local cuisine will be provided by the Bacara culinary team.
Vintage Burgundy Dinner, 7 pm ($400)
The World of Pinot Noir presents an extraordinary wine dinner hosted by the Guild of Sommeliers where Fred Dame presents vintage wines in a intimate six-course gourmand experience limited to just 36 guests. Wines being poured include the 1982 Camille Giroud Grand Cru, 1991 Domaine Ponsot Grand Cru, the 1996 Maison Alex Gambal Grand Cru and the 1999 Fougeray de Beauclair Grand Cru.
2016 World of Pinot Noir: Films
The International Wine Film Festival is a three-week event in Santa Barbara County that presents video content entirely focused on wine, paired with tastings of wine from around the world. The festival takes place at iconic vineyard locations such as Larner Vineyard, Grassini Vineyards and Presqu’ile Winery between February 14 and March 5. 2016 is the inaugural year for the Wine Film Fesitival and between 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm on March 5 they will present a special screening of SOMM 2: Into the Bottle at the Bacara Theater, open to all WOPN early admission Saturday Grand Tasting ticket holders. Between 2:30 pm and 6:30 pm, this 211-seat state-of-the-art theater will feature the best wine-themes short films from the past year (you can find the schedule outside the theater).
2016 World of Pinot Noir: Tickets
So, are you ready to go? For complete details on the World of Pinot Noir, and to purchase tickets, please go here.
For full-on splurging, you might consider purchasing a World of Pinot Noir single-day or full-weekend pass. As an added attraction there is a special New Zealand Winery seminar on Friday for those holding Weekend & Single Day Passes (or Early Entry tickets to the Friday Focus Tasting). Sunset Magazine’s Sara Schneider will lead a panel of Kiwi winemakers in this break-out seminar from 4 pm to 5:15 pm (limited to 40 participants).
- The FRIDAY SINGLE DAY PASS includes access to: Bubbles to Burgundy Seminar and Lunch, Focus Tasting by the Sea (including early entrance), New Zealand Winery Breakout Seminar, Movie Screening, and a Friday night Dinner. ($480 per person)
- THE SATURDAY SINGLE DAY PASS includes access to: La Côte d’Or March Madness, the Saturday Grand Tasting (including early entrance), Movie Screening, and Saturday Dinner. ($550 per person)
- The WEEKEND PASS includes access to an exclusive Thursday night Opening Reception Dinner & Tasting as well as: Bubbles to Burgundy Seminar and Lunch, Movie Screening, Early Admission to the Friday Focus Tasting, New Zealand Winery Breakout Seminar, and Friday Dinner. On Saturday it includes access to the La Côte d’Or March Madness, Early Admission to the Grand Tasting, Movie Screening, and Saturday Dinner. ($1,120 per person)
We’ve had a wonderful time at past WOPNs and highly recommend the event to others. The World of Pinot Noir is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring Pinot Noir producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world together with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend of celebration and education on the shores of California’s beautiful coast.
If you decide to attend the World of Pinot Noir, and are looking for suggestions on local wineries and restaurants in the Santa Barbara area for before and after the event, please go here to see what our personal favorites in this region are.