Whoppin’. Event volunteers and insiders in the know phonetically enunciate each phoneme of W.O.P.N. The acronym for World of Pinot Noir is thus pronounced “whoppin’.” And whoppin’ pretty well describes this two day tribute to all things pinot. There was a whoppin’ throng of thirsty revelers vying for tastes at the Kosta-Browne table. And a whoppin’ flock of butterflies in stomach in anticipation of the Saturday Grand Tasting. I nearly wiped out delivering my bottles to the media room. Clutching a bottle in each hand with a third stashed in my armpit, I unsuccessfully sidestepped a lounge chair. At the last second, I caught my balance by squeezing my inner thighs and sort of straddling the chaise lounge, like Jenna Jamison, except worse and unsexy. Only 40 or 50 people noticed, all potential Bruliam customers queued up for the tasting tents. Luckily, I roll incognito, camouflaged by inconspicuous “Bu” logo wear. By the time I reached the media room, flustered and red faced, a reviewer gave me the once over and declared, “Kerith, you look nervous.” Uh, yeah. I was glad I’d reapplied deodorant before leaving my hotel room. Earlier, I’d tried to quench my nerves by walking laps around the empty tents. Nursing my neurotic compulsion for preparedness, I’d allowed myself 119 minutes to set up one map, three framed tasting notes, and arrange a stack of business cards. That left me 113 minutes to obsess before the crowds converged. So I walked the tents. Besides, incanting the names on the winery placards seemed a better way to undermine my confidence. In another 109 minutes I’d be pouring my pinots alongside the best known, most delicious, and highest rated pinot noirs in California and Oregon. “Kosta-Browne, Pisoni, LaFollette, Domaine Serene…” I chanted my warbling invocations to Bacchus. In the final jittery moments before the gate opened, a reviewer from a national publication approached my table neighbor, Alta Maria. He ambled over to offer kudos for the well-loved cult pinot, Native9. But before he wandered away, he looked at me and said, “You know, I really enjoyed your wines in the media room. You ought to submit them to our magazine.” Brian, seeing me starting to tear up, punched me under the table and hissed, “There’s no crying at wine events.”

Over the next three hours, many incredible, talented, passionate (and even famous) winemakers stopped by the Bruliam table to taste my 2010’s. Their assessments were overwhelmingly positive and complimentary. There were lots of “great job’s” and “keep it up’s.” By 6 pm, the sun had dropped behind the Pacific horizon, and the tents slowly cleared out. My clammy, nervous sweat was evaporating, and I was freezing. Incredibly proud, but damn cold.