In early March of 2020, the World of Pinot Noir dodged a bullet, managing to host hundreds of people indoors for crowded wine tastings, seminars, and dinners, without anyone known to catch or spread COVID-19. The annual weekend event, held at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, occurred a week before the United States recognized how dangerous the disease was, and attendees such as myself were flippantly shaking hands with our elbows, sporting how-bad-can-it-be smirks that were soon to be slapped off of our faces.
For 2021, WOPN organizers saw no need to press such luck, nor would it have been legal to host such a gathering under current laws and social norms. Instead, for the entire month of March, winemakers, sommeliers, and wine fans have been gathering virtually to learn more about this beloved grape in a series of sessions and coordinated at-home tastings.
“We’re having amazing engagement,” said Stacie Jacob of Solterra Strategies, which has managed the event for years. “This is working very nicely.”
In addition to regular talks on Facebook and Instagram, there are still a few official sessions remaining. One is the March 25 showcase of Bien Nacido Vineyard, the historic heart of the Santa Maria Valley and a source for pinot noir for some of the top producers in California. I’ll be hosting that 4 p.m. session, which is also offering a three-pack of wines for $150 so that participants can taste along as Chris Hammell and Anthony Avila from Bien Nacido, Dick Doré and Billy Wathen from Foxen, and Coby Parker-Garcia from El Lugar discuss the vineyard and their wines.
Also still available for attendees are the following official sessions:
- Pinpointed Places: Zeroing in on the Terroir of the Sonoma, March 18, 4 p.m.
- The Crafted Experience with Kanzler Vineyards, March 19, 4 p.m.
- Celebrating Old Vines in the Old World, March 24, 5 p.m.
- The Pioneer of Pinot, Davis Bynum, March 31, 4:30 p.m.