What is wine without food? Here are the chefs featured at the 14th Annual World of Pinot Noir.
Executive chef vincent lesage | bacara
At the age of 30, Chef Vincent Lesage's impressive career already includes 3-Star Michelin restaurants in Paris as well as experience at some of the world’s most luxurious hotels.Born and raised in Paris at the center of the food universe, Lesage was surrounded by the rich flavors and techniques that define French gastronomy. But it was actually art that inspired him to become a chef. An avid art lover, he spent his spare time at the Louvre, studying the beautiful paintings and color palates that would later influence his artistic presentations.
After graduating from the Institut Paul Bocuse in Ecully, France, Lesage trained at some of the world’s most celebrated establishments, including The Ritz Paris, the Michelin three-star restaurant, L’Astrance, and Michelin three-star restaurant, Bras. Most recently, Lesage served as Executive Chef of Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach where he opened two of the city’s only waterfront restaurants, Waterline and A&O Kitchen + Bar. Prior to that, he served as Executive Sous Chef at St. Regis Monarch Beach, managing a culinary team of more than 60.
Today, as Executive Chef of Bacara’s renowned culinary program, Lesage oversees the resort’s six dining experiences, including a new signature restaurant opening spring 2017. When asked about his vision for Bacara, Lesage says “I approach every outlet as its own distinct concept. From a healthy breakfast at Spa Café to a casual family meal at The Bistro, each experience is unique, and each experience is exceptional.
Chef Frank Ostini | Hitching Post II Restaurant
Frank Ostini grew up in and around the Casmalia Hitching Post, his family's steakhouse in central California since 1952. Specializing in traditional wood fire barbecue, Frank has expanded his menu to cook most anything over the embers at his Hitching Post II restaurant in Buellton, California. With high acclaim from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Gourmet and Sunset magazines and enthusiastic support from Chefs Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay, Frank has become the regional spokesman for what is popularly known as "Santa Maria Style BBQ", a feast that features meats grilled over a red oak fire.
Chef Jason French, Ned Ludd
Jason French is the head chef and owner at Ned Ludd, an American Craft Kitchen and Elder Hall, a Gathering Space in Portland, Oregon. Inspired by classic traditions of farm driven craft cookery, French’s menus perfectly embody his culinary philosophy of seasonally delicious fare. Produced solely out of a large wood oven, the cuisine of Ned Ludd is best described as extremely thoughtful and intentional food. French and his team believe that great food ultimately requires more passion for and attention to the harmony created when one genuinely considers its provenance, preparation and presentation. After getting his BA at Skidmore College, he worked for several years cooking and importing cheese in Taos and cooking for Sam Hayward at Fore Street in Portland, Maine before graduating from L’Academie de Cuisine where he was awarded a James Beard Foundation Scholarship. Since moving to Portland Oregon in 2001 Jason worked as a sous chef under Vitaly Paley, made wine with the late Jimi Brooks and was the opening sous chef at clarklewis. He opened Ned Ludd in 2008 and Elder Hall in 2014. Both are emblematic of his profound connection with the community of producers that make Oregon such an amazing place to live and cook. From the farmers and ranchers, winemakers and small artisanal craftspeople, French works to develop personal, mutually beneficial relationships that transcend the traditional industry vendor model. While his love of coffee, chocolate and spices make him an unlikely locavore candidate, French works with importers to understand the people and processes behind the items in his pantry.
Michael & Kathryn Graham | C'est Cheese
Founded 10 years ago, C’est Cheese has grown from a small specialty cheese shop into a gourmet food store and lunch café offering over 120 cheeses, 2 dozen fine cured meats and an array of artisan food products as well as hand made chocolates and wine. Their lunch menu is served daily and includes grilled cheese sandwiches, salads and soups. In addition, C’est Cheese offers year-round catering services, ships cheese gift boxes all over the country, and monthly tastings, and supplies Santa Barbara’s top restaurants with gourmet cheese. C’est Cheese Marketplace & Café is slated to open in early 2014, utilizing all the excellent ingredients that have been cultivated in the cheese shop over the years as well as all the delicious ingredients available locally. The Marketplace will feature an expanded cheese, meat & wine selection as well as offer an array of house-made items
"Our commitment to quality artisan foods, exceptional personal service and continual community
involvement will continue to fuel us for another 10 years (or more!) here in beautiful Santa Barbara."
Our seminars are as delicious as educational, and often explore somewhat controversial topics of the day. Our moderators are not only knowledgeable and industry experts, but skilled at keeping our panelists and audience on track and on time!
John winthrop haeger
John Winthrop Haeger has written about wine since 1986. His articles have appeared in Connoisseur, Wine & Spirits, Sunset and Saveur, in the San Francisco Chronicle, in Singapore-based Appetite, and in Japan’s Wine Kingdom.
His first book about wine, North American Pinot Noir (University of California Press, 2004) was named Louis Roederer International Wine Book of the Year for 2005. The second, Pacific Pinot Noir: A Comprehensive Winery Guide for Consumers and Connoisseurs, was published in September 2008. Riesling Rediscovered: Bold, Bright, and Dry, will be published in December 2015.
He is also an historian, educator and educational administrator. A Princeton University graduate with a doctorate in Chinese history from the University of California, Berkeley, where he developed a specialty in the history of the Sung Dynasty., he has taught at Pomona College, Linfield College and the University of California, San Diego, and worked for The Asia Foundation, the Research Libraries Group, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Stanford University.His interest in wine began in graduate school. He is a member of the Society of Wine Educators and a Fellow of the American Association of Wine Economists.
Donald P. Kinnan, CSS, CWE | Secretary, Society of Wine Educators
For 30 years, Don Kinnan has been active in the fine wine trade, both on a business and personal level. Having traveled frequently to the wine regions of Europe, South America, New Zealand and California, the depth of his knowledge has been enhanced by his own experience.
Kinnan joined Kobrand Corporation, a family-owned wine importer and marketing company, in 1985 covering the Washington, DC, Virginia and West Virginia areas. In 1992, he was promoted to Director of Education and was responsible for Educational Services nationwide. For the next 20 years, he conducted over 60 seminars, annually, for distributor sales forces, trade groups, and consumers.
Kinnan’s passion for wine is evidenced by his involvement in numerous professional organizations. He has been cited by the U. S. Government for his role as founder of the Society for American Wines in Canada. He founded and acted as President of the Decanter Club in Washington, DC, and frequently presents to groups such as the Society of Wine Educators, where he holds that organization’s highest credential, CWE (Certified Wine Educator). He is also a member of the society’s executive committee and board of directors. In 2012, Kinnan will be the lead instructor in the French Wine Society’s new Master Burgundy Certificate program.
Kinnan received his undergraduate degree from Penn State University and his masters from Johns Hopkins. He had a long and distinguished military career in the US Army, from which he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. While in the Army, Kinnan graduated from the Defense Department’s Language Institute for French, the Command and General Staff College, and served as an instructor and, subsequently, as chief of the South East Asian Studies Section at the US Army Intelligence School.
Matt Kettmann is senior editor of The Santa Barbara Independent, where he's covered the emergence of Santa Barbara wine country alongside most every other topic since 1999, and a contributing editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, reviewing the wines and covering the culture of California's Central and South Coasts. He's also written about wine, food, and other topics for the New York Times (since 2011), Time Magazine (since 2004), Smithsonian (since 2007), Sunset (2006-2012), Wine Spectator (2005-2013), and other magazines. He co-founded the New Noise Santa Barbara Music Conference and Festival in 2009 (which just celebrated its sixth annual event in October), co-wrote a feature-length nature documentary about California condors, and is making four different barrels of his own wine right now.
Sara Schneider is Sunset Magazine’s first wine editor, responsible for tasting panels, food-and-wine pairing in the test kitchen, wine-related food and travel coverage, Sunset’s International Wine Competition, and the magazine’s wine club. Sara writes a monthly column on food and wine pairing, trends, and issues in wine, as well as other wine-themed food and travel stories, and in 2007 co-authored the book California Wine Country, a Sunset Field Guide. She has judged many wine competitions, both on the West Coast and internationally. Sara has been nominated twice for James Beard Journalism Awards and holds the Academy of Wine Communication’s Certificate for Excellence in Wine Writing.
The World of Pinot Noir is honored to host an incredible team of sommeliers each year. Their professionalism, wine knowledge and wine service make the World of Pinot Noir such a stand-out event. Hearty thanks to each and every one of them, most of whom are return WOPNers. Cheers to the Somms!
Our 2015 Sommelier team was led by co-captains Dan Fredman (Dan Fredman Public Relations) and Branden Bidwell (Wine Cask). Sommeliers included Eric Connolly (The Hatch), Jane-Paige D'Huyvetter (The Inn at Dos Brisas), Eric Hanson (Bouchon), Jerry Lee (Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar), Josh Orr (Marriott Marquis), Thamin Saleh (jeninni kitchen + wine bar), Chris Shakelford (Trelio), George Skorka (Valencia Wine Company), Chris Shackleford (Trelio Restaurant), Jennifer Tremayne (Valencia Wine Company), Mike Trupiano (Trelio Restaurant), Daniel Veit (Wine Cask), Devaughn Williams (ProWino), Robert Williams (Granada Hotel & Bistro), Naureen Zaim (Smoke. Oil. Salt) and Fahara Zamorano (Terrine)
The World of Pinot Noir is very pleased to host Frédéric Drouhin as our featured Burgundy producer. Frédéric spent his childhood in Beaune and very early on learned the philosophy of the House. He graduated from the University of Hartford in Connecticut, where he received his MBA in 1991, majoring in marketing. His first harvest was with his sister Véronique at Domaine Drouhin in Oregon. After some outside experience, he joined the firm and became involved first in its mail-order business, then joined the marketing department, and later managed sales in the French market. In 1995, he became Assistant Director. In 2000, Robert Drouhin turned over to him the daily operation of the firm and in 2003 he was named Chief Executive Officer of the company. Just like his father, Frédéric wants to always be proud of the wines that bear his name. He follows every single step very carefully. Together with the various teams in charge, he tastes every day and “personally” knows every wine, from the vineyard to their shipment.
He and his wife Claude de Nicolay have three children: Romane, Gabriel and Oscar. They live in a country house where he enjoys growing roses. But his favourite hobby is … cooking. Gastronomy and wine are a perfect combination and Frédéric likes to prepare savoury dishes, with due respect to the authenticity of products.
Sophie Boban-Doering and Paul Doering
Sophie and Paul bring their cheese expertise and pairing prowess to our “Myth Busting” seminar panel. Their shop in San Luis Obispo, ‘Fromagerie Sophie’ offers fabulous cheeses from all over the world, artisanal charcuterie, delicate pâtés and an array of specialty food items to pamper your palate. In addition to the shop and cheese plate catering for all occasions, Sophie and Paul work closely with local wineries to discover perfect cheese and wine pairings, each as different as the wines and cheeses themselves. The cheese and wine pairing experience has developed into a niche for the Fromagerie, flourishing throughout their community, allowing all to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
If anyone can make believers in pairing Pinot with chocolate it will be Jessica Foster, for whom making truffles is an expressive epicurean art. With her diverse palate of Belgian chocolates, she blends exotic teas, herbs and spices, infusing her confections to create intriguing flavors like dark chocolate chile and milk chocolate star anise-thyme. Her inspiration surrounds her and by means of this decadent medium, she creates sumptuous chocolate pieces, sculpting each one lovingly by hand.
Raised on California’s central coast, Jessica has always appreciated the honesty of artisanal foods, the purity of ingredients and the simple process of creating a product by hand from start to finish. She continues to wander the Farmers’ Market in search of fresh herbs and ripe fruit to create sumptuous flavors like dark chocolate orange, tangy meyer lemon and white chocolate lavender that reflect the vibrancy of Santa Barbara’s coastal bounty. As with any art, truffle making requires a graceful balance of creativity and technical proficiency. She apprenticed with talented chefs who introduced her to the intricacies of working with chocolate and helped her refine her own creative methods. In September of 2003, Jessica’s passion for crafting fine chocolates inspired her to launch Jessica Foster Confections. Since then, her company has enjoyed tremendous success, expanding rapidly and providing gourmet sweets to an ever-increasing clientele. As a gifted chocolatier, Jessica continues to develop new, enticingly exotic truffles that, with their rich, inspired flavors and natural purity, reflect the creative energy and love that she puts into each succulent piece.
Photo Credit Kelsey Crews Photo
Molly Bohlman (cheese panelist)
A Wisconsin native, Molly grew up with cheese curds in her lunchbox. After moving to California at the age of 21 in order to pursue a career in grape growing and winemaking, she has spent the past two decades methodically working across several functions in the industry seeking to understand how each influences the other. Besides working for wineries in Sonoma, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, her family also farmed and made wine from their vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills for nearly a decade. Molly is currently responsible for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir programs at Niner Wine Estates, sourcing the grapes from their estate vineyard in Edna Valley and making the wine at their gravity-flow craft Winery. She is happy to say her cheese preferences have evolved since her youth and looks forward to seeing how her favorite food pairs with her favorite wine.
Joe Freeman (cheese panelist)
Joe has been involved in the production of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir since 1997, but his interest in cheese dates back further, to the 1970’s and a childhood spent in “America’s Dairyland”, Wisconsin. The earliest experiences may have been heavily weighted to Kraft macaroni and cheese, but locally produced mozzarella, cheddar, and an annual fondue dinner on New Year’s Eve provided a broader experience! As winemaker for The Rubin Family of Wines, Joe produces Pinot Noir from their estate vineyard in the Green Valley of Russian River Valley, as well as from the varied neighborhoods of the Russian River Valley. Living in Northern California’s wine country provides many opportunities to pair his wines with the talents of farmers, chefs, and cheese makers from around the world.
Jim Klein (cheese panelist)
Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine recognized Jim Klein as one of North America’s 20 Most Influential Winemakers, noting that “…. His pinot noirs, along with Alsace-style Rieslings, Gewürztraminers and Muscats, have earned Navarro Vineyards countless medals in international wine competitions.” Navarro was established in 1974 by Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn, and the winery recently opened a sister facility, Pennyroyal Farms, that produces a variety of goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses, in addition to estate grown Pinot Noir. Jim has been making wine at Navarro since 1992. He studied at UC Davis and then worked in the Santa Ynez Valley, New Zealand, the Napa Valley and the Golan Heights. Jim and his wife Rinat live on 20 acres overlooking the Anderson Valley where they garden, collect mushrooms, cure olives and are avid home cooks.
Thomas Houseman (Chocolate panelist)
Thomas’ love affair with chocolate no doubt stems from dangerously high doses of chocolate bunnies and Cadbury eggs as a child. Upon discovering drinking chocolate on a trip to Europe in college, his mind was blown. This inspired him to return to the United States (with a suitcase full of European chocolate bars), and host a viewing party of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” replete with chocolate, liqueurs, and sparkling wine during the corresponding scenes in the movie. As the winemaker for Anne Amie Vineyards, Thomas generally leans toward savory, and salty pairings for his wines, but is still open to chocolate pairings. To quote Katherine Hepburn,“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.”
Ben Cane (Chocolate panelist)
There is more than a grain of truth in the notion that winemaker Ben Cane believes strongly that the importance of chocolate cannot be underestimated in the upbringing and career preparation of an aspiring Pinot Noir specialist. Since he first began crafting wines in Australia’s Adelaide Hills, home to stellar Pinot Noir, he found that his avid eating approach to life paired well with an enthusiastic exploration of both wine and chocolate from around the world. The more formal exercise of pairing the nuances of Pinot Noir with the equally complex and compelling array of chocolates is a balancing act well worth a close examination. As a winemaker focused on finding balance between aromatics, flavor and texture in Pinot Noir, it will be intriguing to see what Matt, with a deft hand, brings to the pairing table. The fine and delicate nature of Pinot Noir can be overpowered quite easily, and it will be fascinating to see how both the wine and chocolate may be enhanced by careful matching.
Nicole Hitchcock (Chocolate panelist)
Nicole is the head winemaker at J Vineyards & Winery, where she oversees all aspects of winemaking, from managing operations to supervising the laboratory team. Nicole’s passion for winemaking continues to grow as she crafts world-class sparkling and varietal wines from cool-climate fruit grown in the renowned Russian River Valley and Sonoma County. In addition to her role as head winemaker, Nicole is simultaneously working towards earning her MBA in Wine Business from Sonoma State University.
“Wine is like a universal language. It can transcend physical and cultural boundaries, and ultimately brings people together,” Nicole explains. “From early on, I was enamored by all parts of the industry and process—the journey from vine to glass, the varying tastes, and the cultural aspects.”