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2007 World of Pinot Noir

Registration for the 2007 World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) in Shell Beach, California, slated for Friday, March 2 and Saturday Mar 3, 2007, is now open. Event information and tickets are available now at

I have attended this event in the Central Coast of California practically every year since its inception and I consider it one of the top Pinot Noir Festivals for pinot geeks. This year the featured Burgundy tasting on Saturday morning with Allen Meadows (aka the burghound) is The Wines of Domaine Comte Georges de Vogué and Domaine Michel Gros ($225-$285 pp). This is always the highlight of WOPN. Meadows interacts with the French winemakers (in this case Jean-Luc Pépin of de Vogué and Michel Gros) to offer an instructive and insightful tasting of these superb Burgundian wines. Lunch follows the presentation, accompanied by more wines from the two Domaines.

Friday night is the Gala Pinot Noir Dinner at The Cliffs Resort. This year the featured chef is Mark Peel whose resume includes Wolfgang Puck’s Ma Maison and Spago, as well as Chez Panisse and his own Campanile Restaurant in Los Angeles. He was honored as Chef of the Year 2005 by the California Restaurant Association. Pinot Noir producers host individual tables and bring library wines to sample. Participants also bring Pinot Noirs to share. The evening has a ribald atmosphere of conviviality and unmitigated Pinot Noir indulgence ($185).

Saturday night the event concludes with a Santa Barbarastyle Paulée Dinner at Au Bon Climat Winery at Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria. Every attendee brings a special bottle to share here also, many large formats are uncorked, and an all-star team of local chefs provide a buffet feast. Bus transportation to and from the Paulée is offered and absolutely required ($185).

On Friday and Saturday afternoons there are walk-around Pinot Noir tastings in two large tents erected on the grounds of The Cliffs Resort overlooking the ocean. The list of participants reads like a who’swho of Pinot Noir including Arcadian Winery, Au Bon Climat Winery, Belle Vallee Cellars (Oregon), Bryce Vineyard (Oregon), Byron Winery & Vineyard, Domaine Alfred, Elk Cove Vineyards (Oregon), Etude Wines, Fiddlehead Cellars, Flowers Vineyards & Winery, Goldeneye Winery, Hitching Post Wines, Koste Browne, Lane Tanner Winery, MacPhail Family Wines, Melville, Miner Family Vineyards, Native 9 Vineyards & Winery, Papapietro Perry, Patz & Hall Wine Co, Paul Hobbs Winery, Peay Vineyards, Saintsbury, Sea Smoke, Talley Vineyards, Testarossa Vineyards, The Donum Estate, Vision Cellars, and many, many other small boutique producers. A full list is posted on the website.

Do NOT procrastinate as attendance is limited and tickets sell out quickly every year. The Cliffs Resort (800-826-7827) is holding a block of rooms ($180-$220) and is a good place to stay for convenience, but there are many other inexpensive accommodations within walking distance. Also, the new luxury Blue Dolphin Bay Resort next door has modern condo-style one and two bedroom rentals available ($280-$600) as well as Chef Evan Treadwell’s new Lido Restaurant.

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