Why are you so into Pinot? World of Pinot Noir 2017 plus Sanford’s 2013

Tomorrow, Que Syrah Sue and I are driving up the coast to Santa Barbara’s world famous Bacara Resort for two days of pinot pleasure at World Of Pinot Noir (WOPN) 2017 where we’ll be attending Grand Tasting events on Friday and Saturday March 3 and 4 from 3-6:30pm with 100 or so wineries attending each day to total 200 different wineries!

Square Peg's dry farmed Pinot Noir 2/28/17 photo by Jo Diaz

Square Peg’s dry farmed Pinot Noir 2/28/17 photo by Jo Diaz

Among those wineries at the Grand Tasting on Friday that I am excited to try is Square Peg. Today I received samples of their 2014 Block 1 (190 cases) and Block 9 (170 cases) and it was all we could do to NOT to open them immediately and compare! Thanks to an introduction by Jo Diaz, we’re set to talk with Brad Alper who is dry farming his Pinot Noir in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.


WOPN brings 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 spectacular Central Coast.

In 2017, the annual global summit and celebration of Pinot Noir features nearly 200 wineries and is considered one of the premier wine events in the world. According to Meridith May, publisher and editorial director of The SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel Magazine, and The Clever Root, “Pinot Noir’s popularity is at an all-time high and significant innovations are occurring with every vintage.”  This gathering of the best Pinot Noir producers on the planet and people who love Pinot Noir will explore emerging trends and innovations as well as the characteristics certain terroirs have on Pinot Noir.

Each morning from 9-2:30, WOPN offers an educational seminar with tastings and a luncheon. On Friday, the seminar looks at Hirsch Vineyards and Louis Latour in “The Terroirists” with moderator Michael Austin. On Saturday, Don Kinnan leads a Burgundy Seminar “La Cote D’Or : Vintage Does Make A Difference.”


While these sound fabulous, Sue and I will be heading out to Clos Pepe for a vineyard walk and talk with the winemaker Megan Gunderson Paredes followed by a vertical tasting and lunch at the Santa Ynez Kitchen with WALT single Vineyard Wines. As you can imagine, Sue and I are excited for a number of reasons with one of them being that March is Women’s History Month and we want to feature as many women winemakers this month as possible!


smoked salmon, brie, pate pair exquisitely with Sanford’s Pinot Noir for a hearty Happy Hour

Friday brunch at WOPN is all about rose while Saturday is sparkling pinot noir or pinot and pate (that has my number for sure! Love pinot and pate!)  From 1-230pm on Friday there’s also a seminar “Around the World With Pinot Noir” which showcases the diversity of the grape and its range of styles across several continents. Doesn’t that sound fun?

Plus each night there’s three or four amazing dinners to choose from.

Friday Dinners:

  • Kosta Browne 20th Anniversary Dinner with Chef Dustin Valette of Valette, Healdsburg
  • Edna Valley Collective Dinner with Chef Brian Collins of Ember, Arroyo Grande
  • Focus Dinner: Anderson Valley Pinot Noir / Dinner by Chef Vincent Lesage
  • Featured Burgundy Dinner with Maison Louis Latour

Saturday Dinners:

  • Rock Stars of Pinot Noir Dinner – Honoring Merry Edwards
  • Hitching Post Retrospective Dinner with Frank Ostini
  • Vintage Burgundy Dinner with the Guild of Sommeliers

For tickets and additional information about WOPN, please visit worldofpinotnoir.com or call (805) 489-1758.

To get us in the mood for WOPN, Sue stopped by after work and I looked in the cellar for wines that will be poured at WOPN where I found a bottle of 2013 Sanford Pinot Noir for us to sample for a little happy hour at home action.


Sanford Pinot Noir Happy Hour at Home Menu

Pate with brie
Smoked salmon with creme fraiche
Truffle cheddar cheese
Italian crackers: plain and rosemary

These foods will likely pair well for a Happy Hour at Home with most Pinot Noir.

Sanford 2013 Pinot Noir – 14.5% alcohol – SRP $50

An elegant label and an elegant wine. (But I loved the old labels as well with the flowers on them too…)

Admittedly, there are plenty of prettier Pinots: in color, this one is a bit more earthy in color, with brown tones and a coral ring which is surprising for a wine that is less than four years old. On the nose, it offers fresh earth and vegetables/fruits like stewed rhubarb and fresh wild strawberry. As the wine opens up, it gets more expressive with some raspberry and cranberry then violet pastilles and a little mint and menthol if you vigorously swirl.

This pinot is enjoyed so much more if it is served in a proper pinot glass, where all of these wonderful aromas and nuances in the wine shine through.

On the palate, we found more more raspberry and rhubarb plus tart cherry, and light pleasant oak which you can taste but it is not overly obnoxious and will continue to integrate. The tartness from the fruit lingers on the palate, and as we know this vineyard is so close to the ocean, we wonder if maybe some of the acidity of the wine comes from the salinity of the soil, if the liveliness on the palate is because of the sea air and the salinity in the soil, the fog, the coastal influence.

We found the 2013 Sanford  to be a very food friendly Pinot Noir and it went very well with many of the flavors that we were sampling this wine with.  Pate and pinot noir is always amazing to my palate, then if you add a bit of brie to the bite? Wow! With the Sanford, it brings out a bit of cherry cola flavor. This wine went beautifully with the smoked salmon also.

A versatile wine, we figured it could go from a cocktail wine to grilled salmon to roast chicken to duck. In fact, the next night we finished the bottle with roast chicken, and it really did pair nicely; the next day there was more spice and subtleness and less tart fruit. You could bring this to a holiday meal and it would most probably pair with anything at the table. This is a middle of the road pinot that’s easy to enjoy and appreciate; while you can only get this wine at the winery, you can find estate wines widely available in a grocery store.

What’s up with the name? According to the Sanford website, natural springs flow from the hills behind the vineyards down to the winery. Gravity flow also means using natural force to gently move wine during the production process. The Sanford Gravity Flow Pinot Noir blends both estate vineyards from select barrels from five vineyard blocks.

In 2014, I visited Sanford during the Wine Bloggers Conference and winemaker Steve Fennel strolled with us in the vineyards before we had an outdoors Santa Maria style barbecue cooked by the vineyard manager and his staff and family and that’s where the photos came from!

Note:  I am getting comped a ticket to attend the grand tastings at WOPN for my review consideration. I was gifted this wine at the Wine Bloggers Conference for my review consideration.

By the way, if you’re missing those two crazy pinot loving characters from Sideways, check out Rex Pickett’s new book, Vertical: Passion and Pinot on the Oregon Wine Trail — it’s a lot of fun too with plenty of sex, drugs, Miles and miles, plus smiles, and cases of excellent wine with the meals to pair with it.

Not to mention that the first chapter takes place at World of Pinot!

See you there! (and please let the staff dump the buckets…)

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