Finding New Favorites: Recommendations from the 2015 World of Pinot Noir

Bacara Resort and Spa

Bacara Resort & Spa

We had a wonderful time at the 15th annual World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) earlier this month, enjoying copious amounts of high quality Pinot Noirs enhanced by delicious food and classic Southern California weather. Pinot Noir producers and lovers from around the world converged at the beautiful Bacara Resort & Spa for the weekend’s stellar lineup of seminars, tasting sessions, luncheons and winemaker dinners in Santa Barbara.

For us, the highlight is always attending the “Pinot Noir by the Sea” Grand Tastings showcasing over 200 wineries from around the world. Each year, we have the opportunity to taste the latest wines from old friends (Alma Rosa, FreemanMerry EdwardsLIOCO and Soter) as we seek out new discoveries (at least, to us).  Our new favorites at this year’s WOPN included Aberrant Cellars, Carmel Road Winery, Deovlet Wines and Stolo Family Vineyards.

Deovlet Wines

2013 John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir from Deovlet Wines

It’s also fun when wine tasting events help you recognize an attraction to wines made from grapes grown in the same vineyard but crafted by different wineries. We are definitely fans of the grapevines in Bien Nacido Vineyard, Brown Ranch Vineyard, Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Garys’ Vineyard and John Sebastiano Vineyard.   Keep reading and we’ll tell you our favorite wines (and food bites) at this year’s World of Pinot Noir in case you are interested in finding some new favorite Pinot Noir wines for yourself.

If you’re interested in opportunities to sample many potential new favorites at the same time, please go here to see our list of Pinot Noir-centric events taking place in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Sonoma County and the Willamette Valley later this year.

Favorite Wines at the 2015 World of Pinot Noir

Merry Edwards Winery

Pinot Noirs from Merry Edwards Winery

We tasted many phenomenal Pinot Noirs at the World of Pinot Noir, but that’s to be expected when you are served by over 200 premium wineries from around the world.  We encourage you to consider visiting these wineries and/or to look for these wines in your local wine stores, restaurants or online.  To make it easier, we’ve broken down our recommendations by geography (based on winery location).

These were our favorite wines from wineries in Southern California based on how they tasted at the 2015 World of Pinot Noir:

Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards (Buellton, CA) – 2012 Sta. Rita Hills and 2011 Mount Eden Clone (El Jabalí Vineyard) Pinot Noirs

Au Bon Climat (Santa Maria, CA) – 2011 “Knox Alexander” and 2012 “Isabelle” Pinot Noirs

Cotiere Winery (formerly Luminesce) (Santa Maria, CA) – 2013 Presqu’ile Vineyard Pinot Noir

Seagrape Wine Company

2012 “Jump Up” Pinot Noir from Seagrape Wine Company

Fess Parker Winery (Los Olivos, CA) – 2012 Sta. Rita Hills and 2012 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noirs

Fiddlehead Cellars (Lompoc, CA) – 2010 “728” and 2012 Oldsville Reserve Pinot Noirs

FOXEN (Santa Maria, CA) – 2012 John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir

Gainey Vineyard (Santa Ynez, CA) – 2012 Limited Selection Pinot Noir

Hitching Post Wines (Buellton, CA) – 2012 Highliner and 2011 Perfect Set Pinot Noirs

Kenneth Volk Vineyards (Santa Maria, CA) – 2013 Melon de Bourgogne, 2011 Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, 2012 Santa Maria Cuveé Pinot Noir and 2012 Steiner Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir

Paul Lato Wines (Santa Maria, CA) – 2013 Suerte (Solomon Hills) Pinot Noir

Presqu’ile Winery (Santa Maria, CA) – 2012 and 2011 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noirs

Seagrape Wine Company (Solvang, CA) – 2012 “Jump Up” Pinot Noir


Of the wineries based in Central California, these were our favorite wines at the 2015 WOPN:

Bernardus Winery (Carmel Valley, CA) – 2011 Garys’ Vineyard and 2011 Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot Noirs

Carmel Road Winery (Soledad, CA) – 2013 Monterey and 2012 Panorama Vineyard Pinot Noirs

Deovlet Wines (San Luis Obispo, CA) – 2013 John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir

Mansfield-Dunne Wines

2012 Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noir from Mansfield-Dunne Wines

Derby Wine Estates (Paso Robles, CA) – 2011 Pinot Noir

Kynsi Winery (Arroyo Grande, CA) – 2012 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir

Mansfield-Dunne Wines (Portola Valley, CA) – 2012 Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noir

Morgan Winery (Carmel Valley, CA) – 2013 Twelve Clones and 2013 Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noirs

Sante Arcangeli Family Wines (Pescadero, CA) – 2013 Clone 32 – Split Rail Vineyard Pinot Noir

Stephen Ross Wine Cellars (San Luis Obispo, CA) –2012 Stone Corral Vineyard, 2013 Chorro Creek Vineyard and 2013 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noirs

Stolo Family Vineyards (Cambria, CA) – 2012 Hillside Reserve Pinot Noir

Windward Vineyard (Paso Robles, CA) – 2013 Estate Pinot Noir

Wrath Wines (Soledad, CA) – 2012 115/667 Clones and 2012 San Saba Vineyard Pinot Noirs


From Northern California wineries, these were the wines we enjoyed the most:

Bouchaine Vineyards

2013 Estate Vineyard Terraces Pinot Noir from Bouchaine Vineyards

Ancien Wines (Napa, CA) – 2012 Oregon (Shea Vineyard) Pinot Noir

Balo Vineyards (Philo, CA) – 2012 and 2013 Pinot Noirs

Baxter Winery (Philo, CA) – 2012 Valenti Vineyard and 2012 Langley Vineyard Pinot Noirs

Bouchaine Vineyards (Napa, CA) – 2012 Bouchaine Estate Vineyard Terraces Pinot Noir

Copain Wines (Healdsburg, CA) – 2012 Tous Ensemble and 2012 Monument Tree Pinot Noirs, 2012 Kiser “En Haut” Pinot Noir

CrossBarn Winery (Sebastopol, CA) – 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Dutton-Goldfield (Sebastopol, CA) – 2012 McDougall Vineyard, 2012 and 2009 Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noirs

Flowers Vineyard & Winery (Cazadero, CA) – 2012 Sea View Ridge Pinot Noir

Freeman Winery

Freeman Winery Pinot Noirs

Fog Crest Vineyard (Sebastopol, CA) – 2012 Estate Pinot Noir

Freeman Winery (Sebastopol, CA) – 2013 Keefer Ranch and 2013 Gloria Estate Pinot Noirs

Furthermore Pinot Noir (Occidental, CA) – 2011 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir

Goldeneye (Philo, CA) – 2014 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir and 2012 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Joseph Phelps Vineyards (St. Helena, CA) – 2012 Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir

LIOCO (Healdsburg, CA) – 2011 Michaud Vineyard and 2012 Saveria Vineyard Pinot Noirs

Merry Edwards Winery (Sebastopol, CA) – 2012 Meredith Estate, 2012 Coopersmith and 2012 Klopp Ranch Pinot Noirs

Trombetta Family Wines

Pinot Noirs from Trombetta Family Wines

Patz & Hall (Sonoma, CA) – 2012 Gap’s Crown Vineyard and 2012 Burnside Vineyard Pinot Noirs

Saintsbury (Napa, CA) – 2012 Brown Ranch Pinot Noir

Sanctuary Wines (Hopland, CA) – 2012 Pinot Noir (Bien Nacido Vineyard)

Trombetta Family Wines (Forestville, CA) – 2012 Gap’s Crown Vineyard and 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs

Vivier Wines (Sonoma, CA) – 2014 Rose of Pinot Noir and 2012 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir

WALT Wines (Sonoma, CA) – 2013 Brown Ranch Pinot Noir

Wayfarer Vineyard (Sebastopol, CA) – 2013 Wayfarer Vineyard and 2012 “Mother Rock” Pinot Noirs


From even farther north, these were our favorite Oregon wines at the 2015 World of Pinot Noir:

Sokol Blosser Winery

Pinot Noirs from Sokol Blosser Winery

Aberrant Cellars (Tualatin, OR) – 2014 “Philtrum” (Pinot Noir Blanc), 2010 “Carpe Noctum” (Pinot Noir)

Archery Summit (Dayton, OR) – 2012 Red Hills Estate Pinot Noir

Phelps Creek Vineyards (Hood River, OR) – 2010 Pinot Noir Blanc

Sokol Blosser (Dayton, OR) – 2012 Dundee Hills and 2011 Big Tree Block Pinot Noirs

Soter Vineyards (Carlton, OR) – 2012 North Valley and 2008 Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noirs


Food Highlights from the 2015 World of Pinot Noir

While wines were definitely the focus at the World of Pinot Noir Grand Tastings, we don’t want to neglect to mention the food. Attendees enjoyed plentiful small bites from the host hotel, Bacara Resort & Spa, and we don’t think we’ve ever seen that much food replenished that quickly and that often

Although there were tables full of choices, and the selection varied by day, our overall favorites from the kitchen were:

Roasted Beef Tenderloin Chimichurri

Roasted Beef Tenderloin Chimichurri

  • Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Thai Basil and Mint Dipping Sauce
  • Phyllo Tart with Roasted Beets and Herbed Goat Cheese
  • Santa Barbara Prawns with Avocado Relish
  • Avocado and Crab Summer Roll with a Spinach Aioli
  • Chicken Wellington with Bernaise Sauce
  • Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Chimichurri
C'est Cheese

Campo de Montalban with C’est Cheese Fig Jam on Crostini

The WOPN Grand Tasting purveyors also included the delightful C’est Cheese. Over its decade of serving customers in downtown Santa Barbara, this quaint storefront has grown into a gourmet food store and lunch cafe offering over 120 cheeses, 2 dozen fine cured meats, and an array of artisan food products.   This year, we talked with several of their friendly and knowledgeable staff as they offered samples such as Garrotxa, Campo de Montalban, Ewephoria, Prima Donna, Pecorino Toscano, Camembert, Tomme Crayeuse and Fourme d’Ambert.

World of Pinot NoirIf you weren’t aware, the World of Pinot Noir is a non-profit organization whose mission is to further the knowledge and breadth of Pinot Noir through educational seminars and tastings.  As usual, our gratitude goes out to WOPN’s Board of Directors, Advisory Panel, Event Coordinator, and volunteers for providing such an enjoyable experience. You really should go to their website to join their mailing list so you will receive details about next year’s event as they unfold.

Personally, we’ve already marked our calendars for the first weekend of March 2016.


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