Are you crazy about Pinot Noir? Do you like to travel? Well, we’ve got almost 20 suggestions below on where you can go to satisfy both of those cravings during 2015. You’re probably not surprised to find Pinot Noir-centric events in wine country destinations such as Anderson Valley, Santa Barbara, Sonoma County and the Willamette Valley. But, you can also find excellent additional reasons to plan trips to places such as Chicago, LA, New York and Portland.
There are some interesting combinations below: Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs in New York City, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs in Chicago, a Pinot Noir and Paella event in Paso Robles and Pinot Noirs from around the world in Santa Barbara.
So grab your calendar, call your friends and see how many of these events you can fit into your own personal travel plans for 2015.
In Pursuit of Balance: New York, NY – February 23, 2015
In Pursuit of Balance is a non-profit organization seeking to promote dialogue around the meaning and relevance of balance in California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This growing group of producers is seeking a different direction with their wines, focusing on balance, non-manipulation in the cellar, and the promotion of the fundamental varietal characteristics which make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay great. On February 23, 2015, the thirty-three wineries of IPOB will gather in New York City at Three Sixtyº in Tribeca to share their wines.
On the morning of the 23rd there will be two seminars: one on “Acidity, Alcohol and Aging” followed by one on “Triumphs and Failures in the Pursuit of Balance.” In the evening, consumers can participate in a walk-around tasting from In Pursuit of Balance wineries including Au Bon Climat, Cobb, Copain Wines, Drew Family Cellars, Hirsch Vineyards, Knez Winery, LIOCO, Littorai, Matthiasson Wines, Peay Vineyards and Sandhi.
La Paulée de New York : New York, NY – February 24 to 28, 2015
Started in 2000, La Paulée de New York is Daniel Johnnes’ homage to La Paulée de Meursault and the traditions of Burgundy. It’s no surprise the activities sell out, with events including exclusive dinners at restaurants such as Bâtard, DANIEL, and Eleven Madison Park featuring rare and library wines, walk-around tastings of Burgundy complimented by small bites from some of New York’s finest restaurants, and a Grand Tasting featuring producers such as Bouchard Père & Fils, Maison Louis Jadot, Domaine Michel Lafarge, Domaine Leflaive, Domaine Méo-Camuzet, and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. For more information (including how to be added to a waitlist for many events) please follow the above link to their website.
But, there are still a few tickets available for “La Paulee Off Grid” on February 24, a walk-around tasting of Burgundy’s hidden gems, and the “Les Petits des Grands” seminar on February 28, an informative tasting and discussion of wines from lesser-known appellations made by the great winemakers of Burgundy. Both events will be held at City Winery.
World of Pinot Noir: Santa Barbara, CA – March 6 to 7, 2015
Pinot Noir producers and lovers from around the world converge at the World of Pinot Noir festival, an annual celebration of the varietal along the beautiful California Coast. This year, WOPN returns to the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara for its stellar lineup of seminars, luncheons, winemaker dinners and intimate tasting sessions. You’ll also find two separate Grand Tastings showcasing over 200 wineries from around the world including outstanding producers such as Alma Rosa Winery, Archery Summit, Au Bon Climat, Bouchaine Vineyards, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Kosta Browne Winery, Merry Edwards Winery, Sea Smoke, Soter Vineyards and Talley Vineyards. For more details, you can read our recent posting about the 2015 event here.
In Pursuit of Balance: San Francisco, CA – March 16, 2015
In Pursuit of Balance is a non-profit organization comprised of producers focusing on balance, non-manipulation in the cellar, and the promotion of the fundamental varietal characteristics which make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay great. On March 16, 2015, the thirty-three wineries of IPOB will gather in San Francisco at City View at Metreon to share their wines. This is the second of three tastings in the US in 2015 for IPOB.
On the morning of the 16th there will be two seminars: one on “Vintage Variation and the Pursuit of Balance” followed by one on “Selling Balance: The Business of California Pinot Noir.” In the evening, consumers can participate in a walk-around tasting from In Pursuit of Balance wineries including Big Basin Vineyards, Calera, Domaine de la Côte, Failla Wines, Flowers, Kutch, Lutum, Twomey, Varner, and Wenzlau Vineyard. During the consumer tasting, food will be provided by some of the Bay Area’s best restaurants, including Bar Tartine, nopa, Passionfish, RN74, Scopa, SPQR and St. Vincent Tavern.
Pigs & Pinot: Healdsburg, CA – March 20 to 21, 2015
This year marks the 10th Annual Celebration of Pigs & Pinot, an epicurean weekend benefit for Share Our Strength® and local scholarships and charities, hosted by Chef Charlie Palmer at Hotel Healdsburg. On Friday evening, the lively Taste of Pigs & Pinot is where guests can sample 60 highly-acclaimed Pinot Noir wines served alongside a variety of pork dishes including homemade sausages, charcuterie, pates, and grilled pork creations. Before the dinner, a judging panel will compare the 60 pinots in a blind-tasting competition called the Pinot Cup, and that evening this year’s winner (and the runner-up) will be announced. Saturday afternoon offers two seminars where you can watch either an Iron Chef-inspired cooking competition focused on pork, or a March Madness-style wine competition where 4 Master Sommeliers compete in a bracket elimination as they try to convince the crowd “their” Pinot Noir wine region is the best.
On Saturday evening, guests attending Pigs & Pinot as part of the Pigs & Pinot Hotel Healdsburg Package will enjoy the Pigs & Pinot Gala featuring a five-course dinner with creations from Chef Palmer and guest chefs Michael Kornick, Ludo Lefebvre, Nancy Oakes, and Bryan Voltaggio paired with limited-production Pinot Noirs from acclaimed wineries Merry Edwards Winery, Alex Gambal, Peter Michael Winery, MacPhail Family Wines (2014 Pinot Cup Winner) and Pisoni Vineyards. Alternatively, guests of the h2hotel staying under their Pigs & Pinot Package can attend a Swine and Wine Dinner on Saturday evening with a five-course dinner with an Asian flavor palette from Chef Louis Maldonado and showcasing wines from Brogan Cellars and George Wine Company.
Pinot Days: Chicago, IL – March 21, 2015
Produced by The Bay Area Wine Project, this is one of four “Pinot Days” events each year (the first one, in New York City, took place on January 18). Pinot Days Chicago starts when 65 wineries fly into the Windy City and offer Winemaker Dinners, “Meet the Winemaker” Pinot and food pairings at local wine bars and restaurants, tastings at boutique retail stores and ultimately, the Grand Festival at the beautiful Navy Pier. In 2015, the Grand Festival will once again be limited to 1000 guests who will taste wines from Benziger Family Winery, Buena Vista Winery, Davis Bynum Winery, Davis Family Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield, MacPhail Family Wines, Pali Wine Co., Siduri Wines, Sojourn Cellars, and WillaKenzie Estate among others.
Pinot Paradise: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – March 21 to 22, 2015
Enjoy two days devoted to Pinot Noir made from grapes grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains at the 11th annual Pinot Paradise from the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Assocation. On Saturday, local Pinot Noir producers offer wine tastings, vineyard tours, and barrel samples at their wineries and one Pathways to Pinot Paradise ticket will get you into all of the wineries. On Sunday, the morning starts with a Technical Session discussing the signature elements of local Pinot Noirs (with a guided tasting to demonstrate the points) and then that afternoon, over 40 winemakers offer samples of their wines at The Mountain Winery alongside small bites from over a dozen gourmet restaurants. Participating wineries include Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery, Bargetto Winery, Cinnabar, Clos LaChance Winery, Mount Eden Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Savannah-Chenelle Vineyards, Storrs Winery, Thomas Fogarty Winery and Windy Oaks Estate. Food purveyors you can expect to see include Bruno’s BBQ, California Cafe, Chocolate Visions, Cin-Cin, Shelley’s Biscotti and Sid’s Smokehouse.
In Pursuit of Balance: Houston, TX – March 30, 2015
In Pursuit of Balance is a non-profit organization seeking to promote dialogue around the meaning and relevance of balance in California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. On March 30, 2015, the thirty-three wineries of IPOB will gather in Houston at The Parador to share their wines.
On the morning of the 16th there will be two seminars: one on “California’s Next Move” followed by one on “To Stem, or Not to Stem.” In the evening, consumers can participate in a walk-around tasting from In Pursuit of Balance wineries including Ceritas Wines, Chanin Wine, Hanzell Vineyards, LaRue Wines, Liquid Farm, Mindego Ridge, Mount Eden Vineyards, Native9 Wines, The Ojai Vineyard, Tyler Winery and Wind Gap Wines. During the consumer tasting, food will be provided by local restaurants including Backstreet Cafe, laV Restaurant & Wine Bar, FT33, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, The Pass & Provisions, Pax Americana, and Underbelly.
Pinot in the City: New York, NY – April 14, 2015
Twice a year, the Willamette Valley Wineries Association holds tasting events outside of Oregon, increasing awareness of the pleasures of Pinot Noirs from this region and prior destinations have been Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Next stop? Their Pinot in the City program is heading back to New York (their last visit was in 2012) and there will be 50 wineries at City Winery including Alexana Winery, Alloro Vineyard, Bethel Heights Vineyard, Chehalem, De Ponte Cellars, Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Domaine Serene, Lange Estate Winery & Vineyards, Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Soter Vineyards and Witness Tree Vineyard.
Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival: Boonville, CA – May 15 to 17, 2015
The three-day Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival is sponsored by the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association. The first day (Friday) is a Technical Conference followed by a casual BBQ in the evening where guests are encouraged to bring a bottle to share. The second day (Saturday) is focused on a Grand Tasting in the afternoon with about 40 different Pinot Noir producers from around California celebrating Anderson Valley Pinot Noir wines, with several Winemaker Dinners available that evening. On the third day (Sunday), the local wineries have special Open Houses open to the public. Some of our favorite wineries at the 2014 Grand Tasting were Baxter Winery, Balo Vineyards, Drew Family Cellars, Foursight Wines, Goldeneye Winery, Knez Winery, LIOCO, Navarro Vineyards, Panthea and Phillips Hill Estates.
West of West/Chicago: Chicago, IL – May 20, 2015
West Sonoma Coast Vintners take their West of West “WOW” wine festival on the road to Chicago on May 20th with a stellar line-up of acclaimed Pinot Noirs (and Chardonnays) all sourced and produced from vineyards along the coastline of West Sonoma Coast. The Grand Tasting will take place between 6 and 9 pm at City Winery and represented wineries include Banshee Wines, Emeritus Vineyards, Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Gros Ventre Cellars, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Littorai, Peay Vineyards and Sojourn Cellars.
Paso Pinot and Paella Festival: Templeton, CA – June 7, 2015
Join Paso Robles Pinot Noir Producers (aka “The Beaune Rangers”) and 20 great Chefs for an afternoon of great wine, creative Paella dishes, and Latin guitar world fusion beats at the 12th Annual Paso Pinot & Paella Festival. You’ll be able to try 20 tastes of paella to pair with the wines, and then vote for your favorite during this fun afternoon at Templeton Community Park. Wineries at last year’s festival included Adelaida Cellars, Asuncion Ridge Vineyards, Carmody McKnight Estate Wines, Castoro Cellars, Derby Wine Estates, Jack Creek Cellars, Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery, and Windward Vineyard. The 2014 People’s Choice Award Winners were Jeffrys Catering, Crush Catering, Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant and Fish Market and LXV Wine.
Pinot Days: San Francisco, CA – June 20, 2015
The original city for the Pinot Days events, the Pinot Days: San Francisco Tasting includes wines from almost 100 producers from California, Oregon, and around the world such as Benziger Family Winery, Davis Family Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield, Pali Wine Co., Ram’s Gate Winery, Saintsbury, Sojourn Cellars, Talisman Wines and Wrath Wines. You can also usually find several small and intimate Pinot Noir-centered events around the Bay Area in the days leading up to the Grand Festival.
International Pinot Noir Celebration: McMinnville, OR – July 24 to 26, 2015
The International Pinot Noir Celebration is a three-day mecca for lovers of Pinot Noir and Northwest cuisine. If you come, your weekend days could be filled with activities such as a Sparkling Wine Brunch, a Vineyard Tour and Winery Lunch, Educational Seminars, and Alfresco Tastings of Pinot Noir where you can compare the 2012 and 2013 vintages. Evening Dinners feature Northwest chefs creating stunning menus of regional ingredients paired with Pinot Noirs (and other wines) from around the world. To wrap up the weekend of activities, the Sunday Passport to Pinot offers over 70 Pinot Noir wines alongside 15 Northwest chefs in the beautiful Oak Grove of Linfield College.
It is difficult to know who will be at the 2015 IPNC, as they actively try to rotate their wineries and chefs and this year’s selections won’t be announced until the Spring. On the whole, the planning committee typically selects up to 30 wineries from Oregon, up to 15 wineries from California, and 15-20 wineries from the rest of the world’s Pinot Noir growing regions. At the 2014 IPNC, participating wineries included Archery Summit, Bergström Wines, Brooks, Colene Clemens Vineyards, Drew Family Wines, Harper Voit, Knez Winery, Patricia Green Cellars, Peay Vineyards, Sokol Blosser, Stoller Family Estate and Syncline Winery. Restaurants represented in 2014 included Bunk Catering, Cafe Juanita, Ken’s Artisan Bakery, Little Bird Bistro, Marché, Ned Ludd, Olympic Provisions, Red Hills Market, Salt & Straw and Two Tarts Bakery.
Pinot Noir Summit: Reno, NV – July 25, 2015
At the 13th Annual Pinot Noir Summit, the Affairs of the Vine organization presents a wine competition in which judges’ conclusions are put to the test by a group of wine lovers. Before the Summit, a professional judging panel tastes wines for several months (during what’s called the Pinot Noir Shootout). Then, after tasting the wines blind themselves, wine lovers at The Pinot Summit select their own winners, and the results are compared to the judges’ decisions. Men and women’s preferences are tallied separately, providing more fodder for discussion. In 2014, the judges’ favorites included Anderson Oaks Vineyard, Bouchaine, Comanche Cellars, Gloria Ferrer, Handley Cellars and Holman Ranch Vineyards & Winery. The public’s preferences included Anderson Oaks Vineyard, Asuncion Ridge Vineyards, Canihan Family Cellars, Gallegos Wines and Thralls Family Cellars. For 2015, Affairs of the Vine has moved the event to Reno, Nevada, for a full day of activities at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa (and they’ve added a trade/media event for the 24th).
West of West Wine Festival: Sebastopol, CA – July 31 to August 2, 2015
West Sonoma Coast Vintners offers their 5th West of West Wine Festival with acclaimed Pinot Noirs (and Chardonnays) all sourced and produced from vineyards along the coastline of West Sonoma Coast. Details have not been finalized yet, but we’re assuming the format will be similar to 2014’s: a Welcome Dinner on Friday night, Wine Seminars and a Grand Dinner on Saturday, and two Grand Tasting opportunities (on Saturday and Sunday) with represented wineries likely to include 32 Winds Wine, Ceritas Wines, DuMOL, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Gros Ventre Cellars, Lattanzio Wines, Littorai, Peay Vineyards, Ramey Wine Cellars, Small Vines Wines and Wayfarer.
¡Salud! The Oregon Pinot Noir Auction: Portland, OR – November 13 to 14, 2015
Winemakers from Oregon’s foremost wineries will debut the 2013 vintage at ¡Salud!, a benefit for seasonal vineyard workers and their families. At the Friday Tasting and Auction, wineries offer barrel samples of their special cuvées and only five cases from each winery will be available to the highest bidders. Wineries from last year included Adelsheim, Bethel Heights Vineyard, Cristom Vineyards, Erath Winery, Hamacher Wines, Patricia Green Cellars, Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, St. Innocent Winery, Winderlea Vineyard & Winery, and Witness Tree Vineyard.
Festivities for the Saturday evening Gala begin with an outstanding silent auction, hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting with the winemakers from the ¡Salud! Vintners Circle. Then, the evening progresses with a specially crafted dinner followed by a live auction featuring rare library wines, winemaker experiences, and unique travel packages. Bid items at the 2014 event included:
- Pizza party for 12 people at Bergström Wines with the Red Hills Market mobile wood fired pizza
- Two tickets to the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium in March 2015 as well as one bottle of Oregon Chardonnay from each of the 40 participating producers
- A collection of 33 magnums of wine, each from a different winery, representing all 6 of the Willamette Valley AVAs
- A Russian River Valley excursion (4 days, 3 nights, including accommodations) hosted by Rusty Gaffney, MD, “The Prince of Pinot”
- Four weekend getaways for a party of 2, including dinner and luxury accommodations for 2 nights, at any of the Lexus Hotel Partners including the Allison Inn & Spa (Newberg, OR), Blackberry Farm (Walland, TN), Post Ranch Inn (Big Sur, CA) and St. Regis Aspen Resort (Aspen, CO).
Pinot Days: Los Angeles, California – November 14, 2015
Pinot Days Southern California is the Bay Area Wine Project’s fastest growing event. In the days preceding the Grand Festival (in downtown Los Angeles) featuring about 60 producers you should find multiple Winemaker Pinot Pairings at restaurants and wine venues throughout the area. In 2014, winery participants included Belle Glos, Bucher Vineyard, Domaine Chandon, DeLoach Vineyards, Hitching Post Wines, Meiomi, Sanford Winery, Siduri Wines, Sokol Blosser Winery, and Trombetta Family Wines.
PinotFest at Farallon Restaurant: San Francisco, CA – November 21, 2015
Founded in 1999, PinotFest is an annual celebration of fine wine, tasty food and good old fashioned camaraderie. This all-Pinot Noir bacchanalia features over 60 top West Coast producers, sumptuous hors d’oeuvres to complement the wine, and a chance to meet the winemakers.
Some of the small bites served last year were:
- Butternut Squash Arancini with Pinot Noir Reduction and Pomegranate Seeds
- Wild Mushroom Strudel with Parmigiano Reggiano and Aged Balsamic
- Black Truffle Fontana Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Red Onion Jam
We don’t know this year’s line-up yet but wineries from regions all over the West Coast were represented at last year’s PinotFest including from the Willamette Valley (Archery Summit, Bethel Heights, Domaine Drouhin, Soter Vineyards), Russian River Valley (Freeman, Lynmar Estate, Merry Edwards), Sonoma Coast (Cobb Wines, Ernest Vineyards, Littorai, Peay Vineyards, Wayfarer), Los Carneros (Etude, Gloria Ferrer, Saintsbury) and Santa Barbara (Alma Rosa, Au Bon Climat, Fiddlehead Cellars, Melville). Tickets will go on sale around the 1st of September and are sure to quickly sell out.
We hope you find this list of Pinot Noir Wine Tasting Events helpful in planning your travels for 2015. Please let us know if we missed anything.