Travel the World by Wine Glass: World of Pinot Noir

For a foodie who’s gonzo for great wine, the World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) is definitely a high holiday. Three years ago, this was the first major Central Coast wine and food event I attended as a member of the media and I’ve had the great fortune to attend this very local (Pismo/Shell Beach!) internationally-known tasting and learning event every year since.


international Pinot Noir

WOPN begins to feel like a wine-lovers reunion since I know I’ll see some of my favorite Pinot Noir producers and fellow wine enthusiasts who return year after year. It’s a great place to connect with friends old and new over a diversity of exceptional Pinot Noirs from everywhere. Or, everywhere from those magic few spots on the planet where one can grow world-class Pinot Noir.

At WOPN, I get to see the friendly, gracious growers and winemakers I’ve met over the years and enjoy their impassioned winemaking efforts. This March, I look forward to saying “hello” to the very talented winemakers I now consider friends and, of course, meeting new people and Pinots from around the world.


Hilliard Bruce Vineyards, SIP Certified

Around the World in Many Pinots

“That French wine,” marveled the Austrian winemaker from New Zealand, “it…has…memory.” Yes, the French Burgundy on the international Pinot Noir seminar panel of wines *did* taste different from the others. Perhaps, as Rudi says, that difference stemmed from memories seeped into the soil over centuries of careful, attentive French winemaking. From Burgundy, Chile, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Austria and California just on this panel alone, the breadth of Pinot Noir producers at WOPN allows guests to travel internationally via tastes of terroir in the Pinot Noir.


Albert Bichot

The French estate and vineyards that produce the Burgundy that tasted of memory? Produced by Albert Bichot, this wine serves as our first foothold in France for a future Euro wine country bike tour. “I would like to visit your winery,” I told the winery representative as he poured me another taste of this memorable wine. “Please do!” he said, as he handed me a card. This is how a foodie plans a bike tour: collecting contacts and wine notes for future foodie adventures when we set off for some world travel here soon. Yes!

world-of-pinot-noirWOPN Highlights

If you live in or near the Central Coast, love wine and have never attended WOPN, this is your weekend. Tickets are going fast for some of the special events.


a couple of Kens: Ken Brown (in cap) and Ken Volk (in plaid)

  • There are still just a few Seminar A tickets available for the Kosta Browne seminar on White Pinot Noir.
  • On Friday, I’ll attend the Focus Tasting which usually involves fewer guests and wineries pouring small lots, vineyard designates, limited releases, and barrel selections.
  • With a wine industry colleague with a superior palate, I will explore the world of Pinot Noir at the Saturday afternoon Grand Tasting, which always sells out. Do you have your tickets?
  • This year’s WOPN also offers a sequel to the alcohol and balance discussion of WOPN 2011 with two of the voices from the first seminar—Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and Adam Lee of Siduri Wines—as well as fresh perspectives.
  • The WOPN Gala at Chamisal promises to be lots of fun. Bring a bottle of your favorite Pinot Noir to share. Local chefs, large format bottles, good times.

Cheese_humboldt_fogIn 2011, the Cheese Shop from Carmel rolled into town on a cheese wheel and set up an empire of cheese that ended up being the vortex among the various tents set up along the Cliffs’ cliffs. The lure of cheese: powerful it is, especially for those with world-class Pinot Noir in the glass. This year, Vivant Fine Cheese will feed our cheese needs. Yum!

wine glasses
Pinot Noir for breakfast?
wines for tasting
bottles of Pinot Noir
wines poured in the international seminar
shortcakes and wine barrels
Thomas Hill Organics catered lunch
alcohol and balance seminar
alcohol and balance seminar — Eric Asimov, moderator
winemaker Jim Clendenen
Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat
sommelier Raj Parr and winemaker Adam Lee
Raj Parr of Michael Mina and Adam Lee of Siduri Wines
question time
question time
sommelier and winemaker Paul Lato
sommelier and winemaker Paul Lato
owners John Hilliard and Christine Bruce
John Hilliard and Christine Bruce, Hilliard Bruce Vineyards, Sta Rita Hills
The Cheese Shop, Carmel-by-the-Sea
The Cheese Shop, Carmel-by-the-Sea
The Cheese Shop, Carmel-by-the-Sea
Shell Beach sunset
winemakers Ken Volk and Ken Brown
Ken Volk (in plaid) and Ken Brown (in cap), winemakers
Albert Bichot
Mohr Niggli
Robbins Family Farm olive oil
Robbins Family Farm olive oil

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