This past weekend, wine geeks, wine makers, and wine consumers gathered at the Bacara Resort & Spa to celebrate my favorite wine, Pinot Noir.
My sister and I met in Burbank, and drove Hwy 101 north to Santa Barbara. We were lucky to get rooms at the resort, a truly convenient way to attend the gatherings.
Our arrival on Thursday gave us that evening and Friday morning to explore Santa Barbara before our first event, Focus Grand Tasting / Pinot Noir by the Sea at 4 pm on Friday.
For our first venture into Santa Barbara (the resort is actually in the town of Goleta) we drove the 20 minutes from the resort to the Santa Barbara Harbor. There we found Brophy Bros. Clam Bar & Restaurant right on the pier for a fresh seafood dinner.
While walking the pier at dusk we watched as workers unloaded tons of sea urchins from a boat into a truck.
My fish stew, Cioppino, was topped with parmesan cheese and very good.
Friday, the first day of the two day event, we had the morning to return to the harbor area before our afternoon tasting.
We drove onto Stearns Wharf and parked the rented Mustang. The wharf is at the end of State Street which made for a good walk.
Questioning several locals, they all recommended the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company restaurant at the very end of the wharf for lunch.
It’s small with very fresh shellfish, and counter seats overlooking the kitchen.
We were talked into Uni Shooters, raw sea urchin served with a raw quail’s egg and lime. I ate it, a first for me.
Back at the 17th annual WOPN (worldofpinotnoir.com), we joined the other guests in line at 4 pm for the general admission Focus Grand Tasting. Wine Makers from California, Oregon, France, Chile, Australia, and a few other countries offered tastes of their finest Pinot Noir.
With more than 80 vineyards represented, we had to be a bit selective. We were drawn to the Oregon wines, but we were here to try new things, so we walked around the Bacara Ballroom and tasted wines unknown to us.
The Sommeliers were easy to spot, carrying blue plastic cups and spitting, while the novices/consumers were all swallowing. The tasting ended at 630 pm.
Our next event was at 730 pm, the Anderson Valley Wineries Dinner. This dinner was a 5 courses with wine pairings. My favorite wine of the dinner was Waits-Mast Deer Meadow Vineyard 2013.
In hind sight, we found the 2 1/2 hour tasting followed by the dinner a little more than we needed. Coming back again, we would do the Friday tasting (smaller crowd than the Saturday tasting), no Friday dinner, and the Sat. brunch and dinner, which we did.