Pinot! Pinot! Pinot! WOPN SB 3/5-8, IPNC PDX 7/24-26, PN NZ 2/23-25/21

photo from 2019 tasting courtesy of WOPN

Lovers of Pinot Noir UNITE and calendar these three events: World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) at the Bacarra Resort Santa Barbara CA March 5-8, International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) July 24-26 in McMinnville OR, and Pinot Noir New Zealand (PN NZ) slated for February 23-25 2021 in Christchurch NZ.

WOPN kicks off with a field trip to WALT’s Clos Pepe vineyards OR an Alto Adige lunch at the Wine Cask in downtown Santa Barbara

March 5-8, 2020: 20th Anniversary World of Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara CA

Celebrating Pinot Noir for 20 years on the central coast, World of Pinot Noir brings together the world’s foremost producers with enthusiasts to sample, feast, and learn (like at this seminar I attended with David Glancy in 2018) at Bacarra Santa Barbara March 5-9 with a Thursday kickoff hosted by WALT Wines. WALT specializes in premier Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from 1000 miles of vineyards along the Pacific Coast from Oregon’s Willamette Valley to Santa Barbara county’s Sta. Rita Hills Clos Pepe where they began sourcing fruit in 2010. All fruit is trucked to a central location in Sonoma where it is made into wine.

On Thursday morning, Sue and I will drive up the coast from Ventura to Santa Barbara to join attendees as we set out in shuttles for the further north and through the Gaviota Pass through the green hills dotted with early wildflowers to arrive at the Clos Pepe Estate Vineyard where we will learn what makes these 25 acres of pinot noir and 4 acres of chardonnay sustainably farmed with low yields and no herbicide or insecticide so special.

“These are wines of bold approachable character,” says Megan, “because life’s too short for restraint!” Winemaker Megan Gunderson was recently named Director of Winemaking for WALT as well as Hall and BACA. Photo c. Gwendolyn Alley, March 2017

Next, we will be seated for a panel featuring Ambassador Kathryn Walt Hall, WALT Director of Winemaking Megan Gunderson, Winemaker Adam Lee, and Clos Pepe Vineyard Owner Stephen Pepe moderated by WALT General Manager, Jeff Zappelli who says in a press release:

“We have enjoyed being part of the World of Pinot Noir program for the past few years. Being able to host the official kick-off event at our Clos Pepe Estate Vineyard, one of the most prestigious Pinot Noir vineyards in the country is exciting. This experience aims to educate Pinotfiles about vineyard characteristics, its coastal location and influence, as well as look deeper into the ageability of wines produced from the site.”

Steve and Cathy Pepe, owners of the Clos Pepe vineyards. Photo c. Gwendolyn Alley, March 2017

After a wine tasting showcasing library, current release, and barrel sample wines, we will enjoy a hosted backyard BBQ catered by The Hitching Post with country music by recording artist, Anderson Daniels.  As we head for the bus, we will receive a signed copy of Kathryn Hall’s New York Times Bestseller, A Perfect Score. Tickets are all inclusive and available to purchase for $250 per person HERE.

“Kicking off the 20th Anniversary event in the vineyard brings World of Pinot Noir back to its roots,” said Stacie Jacob, spokesperson for the World of Pinot Noir, in a press release. “Partnering with the Clos Pepe Vineyard and the various winemakers sourcing world-class fruit from this premiere site and inviting guests to be part of this exclusive experience is what celebrating the Pinot Noir grape is all about.”

Line up for WOPN 2019 WALT Pinot Noir Seminar

If you’re more interested in learning about Italian Pinot Noir than Californian, running concurrently on Thursday March 5 is a session on wine from Alto Aldige. If I wasn’t already committed to WALT, I’d sure be tempted to attend this one “EXPLORING THE ELEGANCE OF ALTO ADIGE PINOT NOIR SEMINAR & LUNCHEON” with Tim Gaiser, MW from 10:30am-2pm at the Wine Cask, 813 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara CA.

The weekend is full of challenging choices, for example, deciding on which deeper dives into particular Pinot Noir related subjects or determining how to focus during the Grand Tastings on Friday and Saturday afternoons (general admission is ONLY $95 and different wineries pour each day). This year being the 20th anniversary, there’s also a tempting emphasis on BUBBLES and a special Bollinger experience for people with a weekend passport. You definitely want to keep in mind David Glancy’s Saturday morning Burgundy seminar from 9:30am-2pm ($275) where you’ll taste and learn about the wines and history of the two designations, Grand and Premier Crus.

Can’t attend WOPN? You should at least check out the menus on the website for the lunches and dinners for pinot pairing ideas!

July 24-26, 2020: 34th anniversary International Pinot Noir Celebration, Linfield College, McMinnville OR

The three days of IPNC serve as a second, important mecca for lovers of Pinot noir and northwest cuisine. Held annually on the final full weekend in July, IPNC as “one of the most enjoyable wine weekends in the world” according to Jancis Robinson. Consumers and industry experience an “unparalleled selection of Pinot noir from around the world via a full schedule of seminars, walkaround tastings, winery tours, and unforgettable meals prepared by top Northwest chefs.” Except for the Salmon bake and vineyard tours, events are held on the campus of Linfield College, about one hour south of Portland.


“The 2020 Grand Seminar: Through Rosé Colored Glasses Sparkling Pinot Noir from Near and Far”  looks at the journey of this wine from “the kaleidoscope of soils found under Pinot vines destined for sparkling rosés” to enjoying the fruit in your glass.

23-25 February, 2021:  Pinot Noir New Zealand, Christchurch NZ 

He Tangata, he whenua.

It is people, it is land.


In New Zealand, Pinot Noir is a catalyst for conversations about

  • turangawaewae, a sense of place
  • kaitiakitanga, guardianship of the land

and you’re invited to join in a year from now on February 23-25, 2021!

For those of you who plan far in advance, set your sights on heading to Pinot Noir New Zealand which will be held on the South Island for the first time in the town of Christchurch where “a temporary community of souls united by a reverence for Pinot Noir … will engage, listen, taste, give, receive and learn. They’ll also have generous helpings of fun.”

The first day investigates place and care, and attendees will earn more about “Tūrangawaewae” which means “a place to put one’s feet, a place to stand, a place to which one belongs. If Terroir is how a place is expressed, through grapevines, into something we can taste and feel, Turangawaewae is how a place informs, or defines us as people. It drives our sense of belonging and, in turn, how we relate back to that place.”

Day two focuses on “kinship” — and explores questions related to “How do we maintain connections with those in our family, community and industry in relation to Pinot Noir?” with a global panel leading an International Pinot Noir Tasting, to show how place informs wine, communities and culture.

Day three is about connections and belonging with NZ wines “that represent the ideas of connection and belonging” (New Zealand Pinot Noir Tasting) led by a panel of seven New Zealand and international guests.

Speakers include Elaine Chukan Brown on Day two:


Regardless of which events you attend, rest assured there will be plenty of Pinot!


NOTE: This post is part of a series about upcoming festivals to put on your calendar! Here is info on February’s Slow Wine book and tour  and the Kosher Food Wine Experience which both took place last week, and here’s how to attend Garagiste Festivals still to come in Solvang in April, in LA in July, and Paso Robles in November.


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