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World of Pinot Noir – Day 1


Well, it’s only 6 a.m. on Day 1, so WOPN hasn’t even started yet. Right now, sitting here in my hotel room, it’s still dark outside, and the only sound is the rhythmic crashing of the Pacific surf, as waves break every 10 or 15 seconds. A little while ago, some people were laughing loudly in the hallway, waking me and probably everybody else up–which I thought was pretty rude. But hey. WOPN is a huge party, and some folks apparently are getting an early start.

The Cliffs Hotel, where I’m staying and which is where most WOPN stuff happens, is a big beachside resort, with terraces overlooking the ocean, and it’s always bizarre to wake up early and check out the tables on the terraces where people partied the night before. Kind of an anthropological expedition, as it were. Empty (and sometimes not so empty) bottles of Romanee-Conti and other famous Pinots; Cuban cigars stubbed out in ashtrays; martini glasses with lipstick stains. The money flows freely at WOPN and so, I imagine, do other things.

So not much news to report this morning. Too early. Registration begins around 8:30 a.m., down on the main floor, where people will be wandering around looking for coffee and bagels and Danish. I’ll see lots of people I know and I won’t remember some names and be embarrassed, which happens everytime I blank on a name. “Uh, hi! How are you?” “Great, Steve. How are you?” I always think they know, and they know I know, and I know they know I know, and so on down that rabbit hole. But what can you do, short of making people wear name tags, and then, instead of making eye contact with them, you’re staring at their chests, which can be a little weird. Maybe the solution is for everybody to wear stick-on name tags on their foreheads.

The first event, I believe, is John Haeger’s presentation. He wrote North American Pinot Noir, of course, and always gives a lively powerpoint. Then there are the various winery visits and breakout sessions, but for me, the highlight is the walkaround tastings, under the big white tents on the terrace. Then, before you know it, it will be Sunday, WOPN will be over, and I’ll be heading back to Oakland, in what the weather forecasters are predicting is a big storm. Our January and early February was just delightful, sunny and warm for 6 straight weeks, but the jet stream has changed its mind, and is bringing in storm after storm. My grapegrower friends like it. They don’t want budbreak to happen too early and then have a gigantic frost strike, as happened a couple years ago.

Have a good weekend.

  1. I’ve tattooed my forehead with my name. Driving down shortly. See you there.

  2. Drive safely Robert. I’ll have my nametag across my mouth.

  3. 6AM…..the cliffs hotel…you should head out for surf. Nothing tastes better after a early AM session than pinot……

  4. Vergari says:

    I think that I saw you. Were you wearing a porkpie hat and an earring in your right ear lobe?

  5. twas me

  6. Maybe the laughers had not been to bed yet!

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