World of Pinot Noir: Popular grape gets its weekend

World of Pinot Noir organizers are expecting close to 2,000 people in and around Shell Beach next week to celebrate the popular grape.

The annual gathering, now in its 12th year, attracts pinot noir producers and consumers who are fans of the wine.

About one-third of them are from San Luis Obispo County. Most others are from other parts of the state, but some will travel from as far away as New Zealand, New York and Florida.

“Our guests are looking for an experience,” said Damon Miele, event coordinator. “We definitely draw a lot of industry people. The person behind the tables pouring the wine has to be a winemaker or principle.”

About 100 wineries will be featured at various events March 2 and 3, based around the Cliffs Resort.

Events range from an $8.30-per-person discussion on the role of pinot in sparkling wines to a $400 dinner at Lido Restaurant featuring vintage wines from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Several attractions are sold out.

One new approach this year combines outdoor activities — either golf, kayaking or hiking — with a winemaker lunch and, of course, pinot.

For those with a more technical bent, Chamisal Vineyards in Edna Valley will host a pair of seminars: “Technique vs. Terroir” highlights an experiment with vintners who exchanged fruit to see whether location of the vineyard or style of the winemaker has a greater effect.

“Natural Winemaking” debates practices that fall under an umbrella of “naked” or “natural” wines, which could include biodynamic, organic and other nontraditional practices.

“Natural winemaking is hot in the wine press right now,” Miele said. But “there’s no definition for it. It’s all kind of subjective so I think it’s going to be a really interesting panel discussion.”

For more details, call 489-1758 or see