Explore a World of Pinot Noir

The grape presents a different style of wine everywhere it’s grown—which is why it’s beloved.October deliveries IMG

Great wines may be memorable, but great Pinot Noirs are unforgettable.

This is because—wine nerds generally agree—Pinot is best at capturing the essence of the place and season in which the grapes grew. Try a Pinot made of grapes from a vineyard planted on one side of a road and it’ll smell and taste distinct from the wine made on the opposite side. Not better or worse, just different expressions of similar times and places—like a director’s films or an author’s books.

That’s why exploring Pinots from around the world is so delightful: There’s always a new deliciousness to discover—whether it’s from one region to another, or just across the street.

Burgundy, France

shutterstock_733587316 (1)What Pearl Jam is to Seattle, Pinot Noir is to Burgundy. Burgundy reds, all Pinot Noirs, are beloved for their perfect balance of bright, red-fruit flavors and an earthy, mushroomy character.

For centuries monks grew Pinot throughout the region and carefully assessed the soil composition, sun exposure, vine health and wine quality of each plot of land. The village-by-village classification of the vineyards they developed is still adhered to today.


shutterstock_108960833 (1)California’s top Pinot spots are Sonoma and Santa Barbara. They’re 400 miles apart, but the climates are similar: warm days with cool, Pacific-influenced evenings (ideal growing conditions). Both Pinots have concentrated red- and black-fruit flavors; however you’ll find darker, richer wines in Santa Barbara.

Fun fact: Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder’s favorite wine is a Sonoma Pinot Noir.

New Zealand

new zealandAll the wine regions grow Pinot Noir, particularly in the cooler areas. The most acclaimed wines come from Martinborough, on the North Island, and from Marlborough and Central Otago on the South Island. Central Otago Pinots are the darkest and richest, but all New Zealand Pinot Noirs are lauded for their melding of intense, bright fruit flavors with a savory, herbal note.


OregonThe Pinot-vineyard-packed Willamette Valley extends south from Portland about 100 miles. Oregon Pinots vary from light and bright to dark and rich, but as a whole they are considered the most Burgundy-like in the New World. That’s why so many French winemakers moved to Oregon to make wine.

Wanderlust for Wine: The Best Regions to Visit

These are the world’s best wine regions to visit and enjoy a memorable experience.

meridian sign

Planning a vacation? Be sure to build in time to visit a nearby wine region. Here are some of the best for discovering and learning about new wines — or just having a great time in the countryside.

Willamette Valley, Oregon

willametteAn hour’s drive south of Portland, Willamette is Pinot Noir paradise—with more than 500 wineries. But the region retains its laid-back, welcoming farming-community charm. Best of all, it’s a beautiful, scenic spot to spend a weekend.

Visit: Adelsheim Vineyard, Archery Summit, Benton-Lane, Domaine Serene, Ponzi, Sokol Blosser, WillaKenzie Estate

Tip: Visit in summer (the season is short), and try to spend part of your time biking between wineries to enjoy the views and cool breezes.

Napa Valley, California


The top wine destination in America is bucolic, yet offers luxury seemingly at every turn. Napa wineries are spread out, so pick up to three to visit per day and enjoy your time at each—especially ones that offer not only great Cabernet Sauvignon but great views of the valley.

Visit: Alpha Omega, Cade Estate, Cakebread, Corison, Duckhorn, Newton Vineyard

Tip: Visit wineries that require reservations and/or charge a fee for tasting. Free spots tend to be crowded and serve inferior wine.

Champagne, France

ChampagneReims, the city at the heart of the world’s premier sparkling-wine region, is a quick train ride or drive from Paris. It’s easy to get to several Champagne houses, and a few are walking distance from the town center.

Visit: Domaine Pommery, Ruinart, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot

Tip: Do some online research to find a small producer — often called Grower Champagnes — that accepts visitors. There might be a language barrier, but the bubbly will taste better.

Rioja, Spain

riojaAs one of Europe’s most historic wine regions, Rioja offers medieval-looking estates and architecturally wondrous wineries. All produce robust reds that captivate your senses.

Visit: Bodegas López de Heredia, Bodegas Marqués de Riscal, Bodegas Muga, Bodegas Ysios

Tip: Be sure to visit the hotel at Marqués de Riscal, which was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.


Tuscany, Italy

tuscanyThere’s plenty to choose from in the rolling hills outside Florence, from small estates to large, coastal and inland. Enjoy everyday Chiantis made of the Sangiovese grape, to special-occasion Super Tuscans (made mostly of Cabernet, Merlot and other varieties).

Visit: Antinori (Chianti Classico), Baroni Ricasoli (Chianti), Castello Banfi (Montalcino), Tenuta San Guido (Bolgheri)

Tip: Make Florence your home base and visit the wineries on a day trip or two. Take the tour at legendary Castello Banfi in Montalcino, and for lunch visit the Cecchini butcher shop in Panzano.

Marlborough, New Zealand

marlboroughThis is where some of the world’s most exciting Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs are being made—on land that was, amazingly, deemed worth only $50 per acre as grazing land in the early ’70s.

Visit: Allan Scott Family Winemakers, Cloudy Bay, Fromm Winery, Herzog Estate, Highfield Estate, Huia

Tip: Visit in summer (remember, that’s winter here), and be sure to spend a day hiking, biking, swimming or all three in the majestic Marlborough Sounds, just 30 minutes by car from the wineries.



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Turkey Day Survivor’s Guide: Wine

With Turkey Day fast approaching, we’re answering the question that many folks have this time of year: what kind of wine should I serve?


Luckily, when it comes to pairing food and wine on the big day, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. You can serve one type of wine for the whole feast, or leave it up to guests to personalize their picks according to their favorite dishes—whether it’s the ever-so-generously buttered mashed potatoes, the sumptuous stuffing or the juicy bird itself. Whichever approach you decide to take, we’ve got you covered.


Each of these wines will amp up everything on your Thanksgiving table. (Only dessert has a hands-down winner.) Look for the dish you keep on craving to see which bottle to plunk between you and the closest relative.


Pairs with: Cranberry Sauce

Calling all cranberry sauce lovers. Like cranberry sauce, Zinfandel is tart and sweet, and its spice brings extra life to the party.

Dry Riesling

Pairs with: Sweet Potatoes

Do you head straight for the sweet potatoes? Then make a beeline for a Riesling and its crisp autumn flavor.

Pinot Noir

Pairs with: Turkey

If you’re all about the bird, pour a glass of Pinot. Its berry flavor gets on famously with light meat, and its earthiness cozies up to dark meat.


Pairs with: Mashed Potatoes

A buttery tower of spuds yearns for a Chardonnay. Oaky Chards are like an extra drizzle of butter, while light, fresh Chards leave you with room for seconds.


Pairs with: Pumpkin Pie

If the best comes last for you, the choice is simple. Have some Gewürztraminer with that pumpkin pie. It’s like dessert in a glass.

Petite Sirah

Pairs with: Stuffing Is stuffing the centerpiece of your feast? Petite Sirah is for you. Its spice makes oh-so-nice with your family’s secret recipe.