From the Vine on WOPN 2017


Bacara’s gorgeous ballroom where the grand tastings take place. There’s always a bountiful table offering delectable foods that pair perfectly with Pinot Noir. Photo credit Tenley Fohl Photography

My column, From the Vine, was published today in the Santa Maria Times and the Lompoc Record, featuring the World of Pinot Noir (WOPN)

In the January 15, 2017 column I am promoting WOPN as one of the best wine and food events in California. I have supported it since it’s inaugural event in Shell Beach in 2001.


Brewer-Clifton winemaker Greg Brewer attending last year’s WOPN at Bacara Resort Brewer-Clifton winemaker.  Photo credit Tenley Fohl Photography

You can read the column (free) online by clicking on this link:

My History with WOPN

One of the many things I’m proud of in my career is that I attended the first Pinot Noir focused wine tasting at Talley Vineyards in celebration of their anniversary that inspired our Central Coast winemakers to create this annual forum to showcase local Pinot Noirs. Before then the Central Coast wineries were usually superseded by northern California and Oregon Pinot producers by mainstream wine critics, who had little respect for Central Coast Pinot Noir. Since its inception in 2001, WOPN lures most wine lovers like me back every year. Now in its 17th year, the first time I missed it was only because I was traveling through France and Italy, exploring their centuries old wine appellations. I never miss the event when we are in town, it offers something for wine lovers at every level of knowledge about fine wines.

Going Back in Time

My history as a Central Coast wine columnist began in 1996 when I relocated here from San Francisco. I loved life in The City where I had the great fortune to have worked at Wine Spectator magazine as the wine tasting coordinator, which made me the liaison between the winemakers and the wine critics. Imagine this, all of the wines sent to Wine Spectator to be blind-tasted and scored were sent in my name. After nearly 20 years in the Bay Area’s food and wine industry, it was an easy transition to become a food and wine columnist on the Central Coast. After all, I already knew most of the winemakers, and they were great about introducing me to their world. that’s how I came to be invited to Talley Vineyard’s anniversary celebration.

In 2001 the WOPN celebration began at the Dolphin Bay Resort in Shell Beach focused on California , and it was so hugely successful, the second year it attracted amazing wineries from France and Australia, as well as Napa and Sonoma valleys, Oregon and Washington State. In its second year, WOPN not only caught the attention of excellent Pinot producers around the world that wanted to be part of it, it began attracting the wine critics who were much more interested in finding the Central Coast’s rising stars of winemaking. The major impact of this event is that it carried the Central Coast to the forefront of the most respected American wine appellations, no one would imagine ignoring the Sta. Rita Hills or Santa Maria Valley today. The event was relocated to the Bacara Resort in 2014, where it has become even more popular among Central Coast wine lovers.

WOPN 2017

Bacara Resort

Bacara Resort’s Pacific Ocean view patio

This year there’s plenty to entice you in the line-up of seminars, Pinot focused tastings, and winemakers’ luncheons and dinners. To get the list and/or to buy tickets–this event always sells out so don’t wait too long to order–click on this link to learn more about WOPN.

If you can’t afford the Bacara Resort, although they do offer special rates for WOPN attendees at, do what we did last year. We chose to stay at the Kimpton Goodland Hotel, just a few miles south of the Bacara. It was easy to get Uber rides to and from the hotel for festival events.


The Goodland’s courtyard view room

Here’s the link for the more affordable (for most people) inn which also has a lovely restaurant for dinner nightly and weekend brunch:

2 comments for “From the Vine on WOPN 2017

  1. Linda Lewis
    January 16, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Can’t click on

    • January 16, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks, Linda, I’ve updated the site with the correct address and link for World of Pinot Noir.

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