Unlike a typical food and wine festival, The Chardonnay Symposium’s primary purpose is to educate and inform top industry professionals, as well as devoted consumers, about current events and trends in Chardonnay production and culture around the world.

But when the discussion ends, there’s plenty of time for exploring nearby wineries as well as the seaside resort towns of Pismo Beach and Avila Beach that offer winetasting rooms, pristine beaches, surfing and kayaking, hiking and biking trails, farm-to-table and seaport-inspired cuisine, boutique shopping, and more.

Event Schedule (.pdf)


Event Listing

Vintners Wine Tech Symposium

Thursday, May 12, 9:00am–4:00pm

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort

For qualified vintners only. This event, lead by Winemaker Larry Brooks, is designed to be a sharing of best practices using the Steamboat Format. Space is limited to (40) producers and will be on a first-come basis. Lunch will be provided. The day will conclude with a festive barbeque in the Edna Valley.

Sommelier Chardonnay Challenge

Thursday, May 12, 10:00am–3:00pm

Avila Lighthouse Suites

For qualified and invited sommeliers only. Part I: The International Chardonnay Symposium 2016 and The SOMM Journal will select 10 sommeliers to participate in a Chardonnay double-blind wine tasting competition. Participating wineries will compete for Best Oaked Chardonnay,  Best Unoaked Chardonnay, SOMM Journal’s choice and the prestigious Best of Show Chardonnay.

Part II: Throughout the competition, the sommeliers will also compete for the title of Top Sommelier based on their accuracy in evaluating the wine. The Top Sommelier award as well as the various winners from the competition will be announced at the annual La Paulée Dinner and Vintners Awards Ceremony, Friday evening held at Greengate Ranch & Vineyard in the Edna Valley.

French Forum: Exploring The Wonders of French Chardonnay (lunch included)

Friday, May 13, 11:00am–1:30pm

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort

Open to the public. In this fun and informative seminar, Master Sommelier Bob Bath will take you on a guided tasting tour of the top Chardonnay producing regions in France from Chablis to Champagne.

Wente Clone Comparative Tasting

Friday, May 13, 2:00pm–3:30pm

Avila Lighthouse Suites

Open to the public. Over a period of 30-40 years, Ernest Wente selected vines that showed favorable traits, and re-planted them to establish the Wente Clone of Chardonnay. Today, the Wente Clone is widely planted and revered throughout the western United States. Join us as we explore how 5 generations of top-shelf vintners have mastered this noteworthy clone. Moderated by Randy Caparoso, Editor-at-large for The SOMM Journal.

Pét-Nat, Sparkling Wine & Oysters Gala

Friday, May 13, 4:00pm–6:00pm

Avila Beach Golf Resort

Open to the public. Join 20 of your favorite producers as they showcase their Pét-Nat or Sparkling wine paired with freshly harvested oysters. Sip on bubbles as you mix and mingle with friends, colleagues and wine enthusiasts at the beautiful Avila Beach Golf Resort Clubhouse. If you like all things sparkling – this event is not to be missed!

La Paulée Dinner and Vintners Awards Ceremony

Friday, May 13, 7:00pm–10:00pm

Greengate Ranch & Vineyard

Open to the public. La Paulée Dinner and Vintners Awards Ceremony is an elegant evening comprised of consumers, winemakers, sommeliers, colleagues and enthusiasts coming together to celebrate top Chardonnay producers. Grab a glass of bubbles before moving to the gourmet multi-course dinner prepared by Executive Chef Craig Strong and his talented team at Montage Laguna Beach. To make the night more spectacular, winemakers will be showcasing and sharing their treasured library select wines with guests. The Top Sommelier Award, Legend of Chardonnay Award, and award winners of the Sommelier Wine Competition will be presented by The SOMM Journal. Enjoy this special opportunity for enthusiasts of all levels to come together and celebrate all things wine!

Taste the Difference: Exploring California's Distinct Chardonnay Regions

Saturday, May 14, 10:00am–11:30am

Edna Valley Vineyard

Open to the public. In this expert-led seminar, you’ll learn how climate, soil and elevation influence each of these five world-class regions and how to determine the origin by simply nosing and tasting the wine. Moderated by Christopher Sawyer, Wine Journalist, Sommelier and Public Speaker.

Hone Your Chardonnay Blind-Tasting Skills

Saturday, May 14, 10:30am-12:30pm

The Cliffs Resort

Open to the public.  Larry Brooks, a scent expert who has crafted Chardonnay for more than four decades, will help you sharpen your blind-tasting skills in this two-part seminar. Using notes from perfumes and other sources, you’ll explore—and be able to identify—the vast and surprising expressions found among the best Chardonnay ever produced. The second phase of this one-of-a-kind seminar will include a tasting of wines from New Zealand, Spain, France and California. Put your senses to the test!

What’s Oak Got To Do With It?

Saturday, May 14, 11:00am–12:30pm

The Cliffs Resort

Open to the public. Winemakers, wine educators and other winery principals will engage in a discussion, debate and Q&A regarding varying oak regimens, as well as concrete and stainless steel fermentation, and their effect on flavors and textures of Chardonnay. Moderated by Federico Casassa, Cal Poly Professor of Enology and Sensory Analysis.

Pairing Chardonnay & Artisanal Cheese

Saturday, May 14, 11:30am–1:00pm

Greengate Ranch & Vineyard

Open to the public. A world-class tasting of thoughtfully paired artisanal cheese, provided by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, with acclaimed Chardonnay from top wine producers. Winemakers, wine educators and cheese specialists will engage in a tasting, discussion, and Q&A regarding the perfect partnership of cheese and Chardonnay. Moderated by Laura Werlin,  Cheese Author & Educator and Virginie Boone, Contributing Editor at Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Saturday Grand Tasting

Saturday, May 14, 1:00pm–5:00pm

Greengate Ranch & Vineyard

Open to the public. Enjoy the opportunity to taste through an ensemble of premium Chardonnay from the U.S. and around the world spanning the diverse flavor profiles of Chardonnay. Guests will enjoy small bites, cheese provided by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, view a host of vendor booths, and engage in a wine lineup unique to this event. To expand upon the ambiance, this event will take place amongst the vines at Greengate Ranch & Vineyard in the Edna Valley, providing an authentic wine country feel. A silent auction will be included with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Cal Poly’s Wine & Viticulture and Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Administration departments. Come taste and discover for yourself why Chardonnay is the world’s greatest grape!

Winemaker Dinners

Saturday, May 14, 7:00pm–9:00pm

Various Locations

Select from a host of intimate winemaker dinners at wineries, in the vineyards and at some of the top local restaurants. Click on the View Participants link below for participating wineries. For Wine Club discounts, please contact the winery directly. To view the winemaker dinner menu at Novo Restaurant with Hearst Ranch Winery, click on the “More Info” link.