By Rick Riozza

Roll Up!! The 3rd Annual Palm Springs Pinot Noir Festivalaka “A Passion 4 Pinot” is returning to our desert surrounds coming Friday & Saturday, January 27 & 28, 2023 to Rancho Mirage.  Wine Lovers!! Tickets are limited!! Get yours now!!

So here’s the good news: The Pinot Party of the Year is happening next week!  The other news is that this fabulous wine festival will be sold out within the week!  Hey—I’m not the salesman here, but Pinot envy is running rampant, and all I want to do is encourage you Pinot Noir lovers to experience the passion!  

To begin with, this year’s Pinot Noir fest scheduled 4 different events: a wine luncheon, two wine dinners, and one great big Grand Tasting.  As of this writing, the two dinner events—The Russian River Valley 40th Anniversary Dinner & the Anderson Valley 40th Anniversary Dinner are already sold out! (Note to self: be proactive—write this info on next years calendar stat!)


Fortunately for our fun-loving valley, we still have the two remaining wine events to attend: Friday January 27th-11:30-1:30pm-Sun, Wind & Wine. The Santa Lucia Highlands Luncheon, and Saturday January 28th-2:00-5:30 or 3:00-5:30pm – GRAND TASTING EVENT.  I’ll see you at both of them!

I know many of you readers attended last year’s Grand Tasting and found the event to be the best Pinot Noir tasting of the year—and the year had just began. Playing out again, is this the best way to start 2023, or what!? Indeed, this annual Palm Springs Pinot Fest is the largest Pinot Noir wine tasting in all of Southern California!  Congratulations!

This  “Passion 4 Pinot” is the premier event on the international wine calendar. Hosted in one of the world’s most dramatic and awe-inspiring Hotels, this is a unique opportunity to engage with 80 of the top winery owners and winemakers and other leading wine personalities and enthusiasts from all over California.

As their website states: “During this Celebration of Pinot Noir, you will discover just what it is that makes Pinot Noir so unique. Join with other Pinot lovers and aficionados as you share tastings that will profile the uncompromising characteristics and unforgettable characters & highlight the different winemaking practices and philosophies that produce wines of such distinction.  And this all takes place where you can relax and unwind at the world class Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa.”

As this column has written previously, we’ve come to know wine promoter & producer Dave Frashcetti who has been at the helm of this annual Pinot Fest, and, the Rancho Mirage Wine & Food Fest.  And we’ve come to know that he only partners-up with top tier wine producers and wineries.  As to the Pinot Fest, Dave comments, “Unlike other events, we are not trying to be everything to everyone; our focus is on great Pinot Noir,”

I’ve spoken with Dave, and his wine cup continues to runneth over with fresh exuberance. “I learned many years ago that when it comes to wine festivals, bigger is not better. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Those who have attended my events before know that our event is a first class fun event that is designed for all types of wine lovers, from novices to expert Somms. It’s not snobbish; it’s a fun-filled afternoon that allows one to learn, taste and fall in love with amazing Pinot Noir from the best that California has to offer.”

The Santa Lucia Highlands Luncheon- Friday January 27th-11:30-1:30pm.  Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands is known for its luscious, supple mouthfeel, bright juicy fruit and longevity on the palate and in the cellar.

The afternoon fête will feature eleven wineries with special library Pinot Noirs direct from the winemaker’s’ cellars, plus sparkling wines and refreshing Rosé – all paired with gourmet fare from Mission Hills Executive Chef Joel.  Some of the amazing wineries to  be pouring at this special luncheon include: Bernadus, Beau Marchais, McIntyre, Miner, Morgan, Siduri, Tolosa, Walt, and Wrath.

GRAND TASTING EVENT-Saturday January 28th-2:00-5:30 or 3:00-5:30pm (The Early Entry VIP ticket allows you to get in one hour earlier than the General Admission ticket.)  As mentioned, this is one, big, tasting that showcases 80 of the best Pinot produces in California.  What more can we write on?  I know—“so many wines…let’s fine the time.” All we can really say is: attend and acclimate to the allure of Pinot Noir!  We’ll probably do a “Pinot After-Party” article later, where we’ll write on some of our favorite quaffs of the event, but with a quick sample, do keep in mind some of these wineries that are near and dear to our hearts and palates:

DuMol: “We have the great privilege of farming small select parcels across more than two dozen very special vineyard sites.  It takes time, working with a vineyard, to discover its defining characteristics. A lightness of touch in our winemaking allows us to achieve a more complex, multi-dimensional, “effortless” quality in our wines. Andy Smith Viticulturist, Winemaker & Partner

Three Sticks: “Our philosophy is to produce wines of world class quality from exceptional vineyards in Sonoma County, including our estate properties Durell and Gap’s Crown Vineyards. We are passionate about what we do and we hope you like the wines as much as we enjoy making them!”  Bill Price, Proprietor.

Papaprieto Perry: Located in the heart of Dry Creek Valley, they specialize in small lots of handcrafted, single-vineyard designate Pinot Noir, and Rosé of Pinot Noir produced from the finest grapes Sonoma County has to offer.  Owners Ben and Yolanda actually came to visit & share their wines with me last time out!  Can’t wait to see them again. See you at the events! Cheers!

Tickets & Info at