The annual World of Pinot Noir event gathered the planet’s foremost Pinot Noir wineries and winemakers, renowned chefs, sommeliers and leading wine scholars in a weekend-long seaside celebration. The Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara, Calif. was filled with approximately 2,500 wine lovers, enthusiasts, industry professionals and more.

In March 2018, the Santa Maria Valley was a proud sponsor of the event. The Visit Santa Maria Valley display featured a delicious pinquito bean salad sampling from Susie Q’s Brand, in addition to take away samples of their renowned Susie Q Seasoning. Fresh, colorful produce from radishes, kohlrabi and carrots enhanced the display courtesy of Babé Farms. A sampling of ultra delicious, sweet California Giant Strawberries were a popular hit. Attendees dropped by for tastings in-between a grandiose experience of wine tasting.

Also, on display as a photo opportunity at the event was a custom Model A Chevrolet Farm Truck courtesy of Jay McCord, regional president of the Model A Ford Club of America. It featured a hand painted Santa Maria Valley logo on it.

Participating Santa Maria Valley wineries were:

Alta Maria Vineyards
Alta Maria focuses on producing estate grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from distinct vineyard sites in the cold, oceanic and windy climates of the Santa Maria Valley appellation in Santa Barbara County. A partnership between ninth generation California viticulturist James Ontiveros and fifth generation Napa Valley, winemaker, Joe Wagner, Alta Maria’s wines are directly reflective of the vineyards they come from.

Au Bon Climat Winery
One of the lions of the wine industry, Jim Clendenen, the “Mind Behind” Au Bon Climat, is recognized worldwide for his classically styled wines. Since 1982, Au Bon Climat has cultivated an international reputation for Burgundian varietals Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, sourcing grapes from several of the most highly regarded, local vineyards including Clendenen’s own Le Bon Climat Vineyard, and estate plantings at the legendary Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley.

Byron Wines
Founded over 30 years ago, Byron Winery sourced from some of the best vineyards in Santa Barbara County making Pinot Noir in both Santa Maria Valley and Sta. Rita Hills appellations Staying true to our roots we continue to focus on small production, single vineyard Pinot Noir from these two AVAs. Our wines are a reflection of their surroundings. Every time you taste one of Byron’s wines you are surrounded by the flavors, textures and scents that can only come from the Santa Maria Valley.

C. Nagy Wines
A passion for food and a love of the Central Coast, led Clarissa Nagy to the wine industry. She had her winemaking epiphany while filling a brand new French oak barrel with Pinot Noir Free Run during harvest 1995. Working for many well known wineries on the Central Coast her love of Pinot Noir flourished while working in Santa Maria Valley. In 2005, she established her brand. Nagy produces handcrafted wines that exhibit the flavor profile of the region and each specific Vineyard site.

Ca’ Del Grevino
Ca’ Del Grevino is located in the Santa Maria Valley appellation of Santa Barbara county. Our vineyard, located just 10 miles from the Pacific Coast, benefits greatly from cool, maritime influences. The long ‘hang-time’ of our estate fruit is due in great part to the temperate climate of this coastal appellation.

Cambria Estate Winery
Cambria Estate Winery represents single vineyard expressions of our Estate’s unique home on the Santa Maria Bench. For 30 years, the Jackson family has sustainably farmed and passionately tended our remarkable Santa Maria estate. Barbara Banke and Jess Jackson’s daughters, Katie Jackson and Julia Jackson, grew up among these vines, with our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir coming from their namesake vineyards.

Cotiere works with some of the finest and most respected vineyards in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. Each vintage we strive to produce the highest quality wines by picking at optimum ripeness from carefully selected vineyard rows and blocks. We respect each vintage as an opportunity to produce wines that reflect each year’s unique growing conditions, and aspire to craft wines which are respectful of the fruit – but also offer a sense of place.

Bill Wathen and Dick Doré have made wine together since 1985, when they founded FOXEN at the historic Rancho Tinaquaic in northern Santa Barbara County. Since that time, their dedication has remained the same – the creation of very small-production, vineyard designated wines using a “minimalist” approach to winemaking and sustainable farming practices.

J. Wilkes Wines
J. Wilkes is a brand dedicated to crafting wines from the greatest AVAs on California’s Central Coast. Instead of the “selfie” of the vineyard designation, we believe the greatest value & expression of a winegrowing area is careful blending of vineyards & harvest dates. Our goal is to source the highest fruit, age & bottle with a focus on allowing vintage and region to show clearly & deliciously. J. Wilkes crafts wines from Santa Maria Valley, Sta. Rita Hills & Paso Robles Highlands District.

Kitá Wines
Kitá Wines is a small, premium winery located in the Santa Barbara County. The word Kitá translates to “our valley oak” in the Santa Ynez Chumash native language of Samala. Like the valley oak, our wine highlights the gifts from Mother Earth and embodies the spirit of the Santa Ynez Valley. With a total case production of around 2,000 cases, Kitá Wines are crafted using sustainable methods and a blend of Old World and New World winemaking techniques.

Lumen produces premium Pinot Noir from the best cool climate regions of Santa Barbara County, under winemakers Lane Tanner and Will Henry.

Paul Lato Wines
After spending 10 years in Toronto as a sommelier, Polish-born Paul Lato moved to Santa Barbara County in 2002 to pursue his dream of making fine wine. His now highly acclaimed artisan winery focuses on producing high-end single vineyard designate Burgundian and Rhone varietal wines that unlock the great potential of California’s sun-kissed vineyards while conveying a sense of European sensibility. His wines are sold almost exclusively thru the mailing list and placed in the best restaurants.

Presqu’ile Winery
Located in the heart of Santa Barbara County’s Santa Maria Valley, Presqu’ile (pronounced press-KEEL) is a small, family-run winery dedicated to crafting exceptional cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Made using grapes from our own sustainably certified Presqu’ile Vineyard, and from a handful of the finest winegrowing sites in the valley, our wines capture the essence of their vineyards and vintage, and have earned acclaim for their elegance and balance.

Rancho Sisquoc Winery
At Rancho Sisquoc Winery we believe in crafting quality wines in small quantities. As one of the first wineries in the now famous Santa Barbara County wine region we have been around long enough to know that great wine is born from great vineyards. Here on the ranch we have over 300 acres of superb vineyards for our award winning estate wines. We pressed our first Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling grapes in 1972 and opened to the public in 1977. Winemaker is Sarah Holt-Mullins.

Riverbench Vineyard and Winery
Riverbench Vineyard was established in 1973, when the first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes were planted on the bank of the Sisquoc River, known as the Santa Maria Bench. For decades since then, some of the most renowned wineries have purchased our fruit for their wines. In 2004, we began producing our own wines in limited quantities, with many available exclusively through our tasting rooms in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara, California.

Timbre Winery
TIMBRE (pronounced TAM·ber or TIM·ber) is the “color” of music. It is what makes two voices sound different, even when singing the same song. It is why two winemakers, working with the same vineyards, make unique wine. As a terroir-driven winery, we make wines expressive of the places and times from which they came. As winemakers, we channel those sites through our experience, adding our own mark- our TIMBRE- to the resulting wines. Founded by Joshua Klapper and Alex Katz

For us in the Santa Maria Valley, the highlight of the weekend was The Bounties of the Santa Maria Valley: A Celebratory Farm-to-Fork Dinner. The region is the epicenter for its hearty and robust eponymous style of steak made from locally raised beef.Our guests indulged in a dinner spotlighting an elevated presentation of Santa Maria-Style barbecue prepared by Ritz-Carlton Bacara Executive Chef, Umit Kaygusuz, all paired with wines from the region’s most renowned wineries. This four-course menu was designed with fresh and locally-sourced vegetables from Babé Farms featuring a roasted root salad, and a mushroom vol-au-vent, perfectly prepared. Dessert was a beautifully crafted presentation of strawberry textures with California Giant Strawberries as the star. 

Special guests included Deiter Cronje from Presqu’ile, Wes Hagen from J Wilkes Wines, Billy Wathen from Foxen Winery and Chris Sawyer, sommelier, wine educator and journalist, and the Cork Dorks, Adam Montiel and Jeremy West. It was truly a night of laughter, mingling and just plan fun, typical of #SantaMariaStyle.

The Santa Maria Valley is home to some of America’s highest regarded Pinot Noir vineyards and producers. Tour the land where grapes grow as far as the eye can see. Where sprawling vineyards, smooth wine and downhome fun come together to create something that you can’t quite put your finger on, but that you’re sure you never want to leave behind.

The Santa Maria Valley is the ideal home base for California’s Central Coast with 34 tasting rooms, seven unique AVAs, 13 beaches, and a growing selection of local breweries, all within a beautiful 30-minute drive. The area was voted a top destination for Wine Snobs by The Travel Channel. Yet, our idea of snobbery consists of swirling ‘til you spill and where coming uncorked is quite encouraged.

The World of Pinot Noir was a weekend filled with the finest producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world together with Pinot Noir fans, for a memorable celebration and education on the shores of California’s beautiful Central Coast. We can’t wait to be back and do it again with #SantaMariaStyle.