World Of Pinot Noir Returns to Santa Barbara’s Bacara March 1-3, 2018

This first weekend of March World Of Pinot Noir returns to the exclusive Bacara Resort located on the coast just north of Santa Barbara.

Along with flowing pinot filling dump buckets will be buckets of rain and mud, so bring your umbrella and prepare for possible road closures!

That’s right, due to the extensive damage to the hillsides caused by the Thomas and other recent fires and predictions of a serious winter storm, this year’s World of Pinot Noir requires a bit more than a light jacket for cool evenings: bring an umbrella and a rain jacket — and you should consider some mud boots as well as planning on possible road closures, detours, and worse. Seriously: be sure to have cold weather clothes in your car along with snacks and plenty of water so you don’t indulge in that bottle of Pinot Noir I know you have tucked in there somewhere!

While the predicted storm for this weekend is nothing like the one that caused the deadly debris flows in Montecito, it is a storm to take seriously and many people have already evacuated in preparation with more to leave tomorrow as the storm sweeps into our area.

I’m not exaggerating:

Here in Ventura, after being closed for ten weeks due to fire damage and mud flows, Arroyo Verde Park opened on Friday February 17. I’ve hiked the hills many times before the recent devastating events, and I’ve hiked there a half dozen times since the park has been opened. Each time I am able to see more of what occurred: the first few times was simply mind blowing. It has taken me a few visits to see the scars from the debris flows — brown where the rest of the hillside is black.

I can also see where the native chaparral shrubs are starting to sprout from the root crowns, and seemingly dead trees are showing signs of life while those several damaged are beginning to bounce back. Encelia will erupt soon with bright yellow daisy like blooms with chocolate scented centers; purple sage  likewise is showing strong signs of recovery.

But even with the hills blackened by fire, the drive to Santa Barbara won’t be much like it was last year with grand swaths of wildflowers from the significant rains we received in December, January, and February of last year. Because we’ve had almost no rainfall which is what contributed to the severity of the fire.

But don’t let this deter you from attending World Of Pinot Noir! If anything, let me encourage you to visit us in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties because as you can imagine, just as the fire devastated our hillsides and lives, it hit our economy HARD with reduced economic activity during December.

While some events have sold out — like the VIP tickets for the Grand Tasting — the 2018 World of Pinot Noir still has select tickets for Friday and Saturday’s Grand Tastings, seminars, parties, and pairing dinners and lunches for the upcoming annual weekend-long event, March 1-3 at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara.

Hosted by The World of Pinot Noir (WOPN), the foremost organization dedicated to the education and celebration of Pinot Noir, the event this year features more wines than ever with over 250 wineries from around the world pouring their wines during two days of dinners, expert-led wine seminars, luncheons, parties, and two Grand Tastings.

In light of the recent natural disasters in California, a portion of proceeds from WOPN’s two Grand Tasting Charity Silent Auctions will support ongoing relief efforts, organizers report.

In addition to three Grand Tastings, highlights include a Burgundy-Oregon seminar led by Joshua Greene, editor of Wine & Spirits Magazine; the returning Burgundy in-depth seminar led by Master Sommelier David Glancy, founder of the San Francisco Wine School; a dinner celebration of the world’s leading women winemakers of Pinot Noir; and an afternoon Rosé lawn party and luncheon, held on Bacara’s seaside bluff overlooking the ocean– not sure how they are planning to accommodate the weather for that one!

“This year’s upcoming World of Pinot Noir is on pace to be the biggest and most well-attended in the non-profit’s 18 year history of promoting this delicious and loved wine grape,” says Coby Parker-Garcia, president of the WOPN Board of Directors in a press release from the organization. “We are also proud that this year’s event will further raise the bar of experiences for Pinot Noir lovers, from casual fans to wine professionals.”

Can’t make World of Pinot Noir this year? Follow the fun on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #wopn or #wopn2018 to see what we’re tasting and learning!

Granted World of Pinot Noir — and Pinot Noir in general —  is not a cheap endeavor. But if you’re into pinot noir, it is worth every penny and this is the place to be this weekend regardless of rain or sleet or snow or mudslides! Just be prepared! Myself? Instead of expecting to be able to drive back and forth between Santa Barbara and Ventura, I’m driving up in my VW Westfalia and I’ll be ready for anything!

Seriously, I am fully expecting NOT to be able to get home on Thursday night after the Opening Night Party  which is when we expect the most ferocious rain! So plan on giving yourself plenty of time to get to the 7pm   kickoff for the World of Pinot Noir! For $110, enjoy a wine-filled feast and fête, presented by The SOMM Journal. Here you’ll be able to meet participating winemakers, America’s leading sommeliers and preview the weekend while sampling wines and indulging in tasty bites prepared by Chef Kaygusuz.

Friday March 2, 2018 starts bright and early at 9am with “Exploring the Oregon-Burgundy Connection” a $265 seminar and 3 course luncheon with Joshua Greene, Editor of Wine & Spirits Magazine, who will lead a winemaker panel discussion and tasting that explores Oregon’s deep and growing ties to Burgundy, and the how this is influencing the current and future state of this exciting New World region. Wineries include Maison Joseph Drouhin, Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Domaine du Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, Chapter 24 Vineyards, Domaine des Comtes Lafon and Lingua Franca. Check out the menu!

Also on Friday: 

11:30am 3 Course LUNCHEON: Celebrating the New Petaluma Gap AVA in CA -$75
Check out the wine and menu!

1pm CENTRAL COAST SEMINAR: Discovering Cool Climate Terroirs of the Central Coast – $65
Wineries include Adelaida, Big Basin, Black Kite, Dierberg, Ken Brown Wines, Laetitia, Stephen Ross Wines, and Talbott.

Taste through more than 150 Pinot Noir producers from around the world plus fresh, local and seasonal wine country appetizers and other treats.

The Art of Japanese Cuisine + Freeman Winery Pinot Noir – $275

The Bounties of the Santa Maria Valley: A Celebratory Farm-to-Fork Dinner – $125

101 Years of Single-Vineyard Pinot Noir Along the Historic Highway 101 – $165

Saturday | March 3, 2018
Single Day Pass $525 
Includes admission to the Tasting Through The Best of Burgundy Tasting Seminar & Luncheon, VIP Admission to the Saturday Grand Tasting and a Saturday evening Pinot Noir Pairing Dinner; dinner upgrades possible.

9-2pm Again you can start your day bright and early with “Tasting Through The Best of Burgundy’,” a $265 seminar and luncheon with San Francisco Wine School founder and Master Sommelier David Glancy with a distinguished panel discussing the varying classification systems of Burgundy’s sub-regions, their history, trends and the changing roles of growers and negotiants featuring multiple vintages of premier cru wines from Domaine Faively, Domaine Henri Gouge and Domaine Chanson.

11am LUNCHEON: Rosé Lawn Party Atop the Bluff – $80

1pm “Attack of the Clones” Tasting Seminar – $60
Taste the difference between many key Pinot Noir grape clones.

Taste through more than 100 Pinot Noir producers from around the world and “taste the place.”

Celebrating the Women of Pinot Noir with 12 wineries – $150
This multi-course feast will feature a gourmet whole-roasted pig prepared by Chef Kaygusuz.

Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Dinner – $165
Five-course dinner showcasing Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Vintage Burgundy Dinner with the Guild of Sommeliers – $450
Along with a six-course gourmand experience… I can only imagine how amazing this would be!

Organizers WOPN is a 501(c)(6) trade organization established in 2001 by winemakers from California’s Central Coast to bring fans of Pinot Noir together for a weekend of festivities. For more information, contact

Check out the full schedule of events here.

Here’s some of my coverage related to last year’s event:

Merry Edwards

and Fromagerie Sophie

Square Peg



Melville Pinot Noir tasting through clones and soils: Gwendolyn Alley and Tony Fletcher

Sta Rita Hills AVA

Goleta/Santa Barbara WEATHER 3/1-3/3:

Thursday 3/1
Rain, mainly after 10am. High near 60. East southeast wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
Thursday Night 3/1
Rain. Low around 49. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 15 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
Friday 3/2
Showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 59. West southwest wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Friday Night 3/2
Showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 42. West southwest wind around 10 mph becoming south southeast in the evening. Winds could gust as high as 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Saturday 3/3
Showers likely, mainly before 10am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 57. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

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