Earlier this month we had the pleasure of participating in the Spring Hopland Passport Weekend where 17 Hopland area wineries showed off their premium wines made from Rhône, Italian, Burgundian, and Bordeaux varietals. The wines were delightful and the various winery hosts also provided plenty of delicious food to fuel our travels.
If you aren’t familiar with this area, Hopland is a small rural town in inland Mendocino County bisected by Highway 101, and the wine region around here is also known as the “Upper Russian River Valley.” The locals here offer farm, garden, and wine tours, and we love the charm and welcoming nature of the area and its residents.
On our most recent trip we found many wines to recommend including white wines made from Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, and Gewürztraminer grapes. Our favorite red wines included Sangiovese, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. We also found sparkling wines, rosés, and red wine blends we can heartily suggest to others.
Keep reading, and we’ll tell you which wines (and wineries) we enjoyed the most during our recent visit. We encourage you to do some wine country exploration and sampling on your own in the area, and/or seek out these wines and wineries at your local wine stores and/or restaurants:
Campovida (13601 Old River Road, Hopland, 707-400-6300) – 2012 Roussanne, 2012 Viognier
Cesar Toxqui Cellars (13440 Highway 101, Hopland, 707-744-1071) – 2012 Pinot Gris
Frey Vineyards (13771 Highway 101, Hopland, at Solar Living Center/Real Goods, 707-744-1026) – 2012 Redwood Valley Sangiovese
Graziano Family of Wines (13275 Highway 101, Suite 3, Hopland, 707-744-1026) – 2012 Graziano Chenin Blanc, 2012 Monte Volpe Tocai Friulano, 2010 Monte Volpe Sangiovese
McFadden Winery (13275 Highway 101, Suite 5, Hopland, 707-744-8463) – 2012 Chardonnay, 2013 Gewürztraminer, 2009 Coro Mendocino (Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah)
Nelson Family Vineyards (550 Nelson Ranch Road, Ukiah, 707-462-3755) – nv Blanc de Blancs, 2012 Pinot Grigio, 2012 Riesling, 2013 Orange Muscat, 2012 Top Row Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Ray’s Station (13275 Highway 101, Suite 1, Hopland, 707-744-2200) – nv North Coast Brut Reserve, 2011 North Coast Zinfandel, 2011 North Coast Ray’s Red Blend (Grenache, Syrah, Malbec, Petit Verdot)
RIVINO (4101 Cox Schrader Road, Ukiah, 707-293-4262) – 2011 Estate Sangiovese
Saracina Vineyards (11684 Highway 101, Hopland, 707-744-1671) – 2012 “The Choir” (Roussanne, Viognier), 2011 Skid Row Vineyard Malbec, 2011 Old Soul Red (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Malbec, Syrah)
Seebass Vineyards (3300 Old River Road, Ukiah, 707-467-9463, about to open a new tasting room in June at 14077 Highway 128, Boonville) – 2013 Fantasie (Grenache Rosé), 2012 Family Chardonnay, 2012 Grand Reserve Chardonnay
We were also pleasantly surprised by the variety and volume of food items which were available to Hopland Passport guests. Graziano Family of Wines had a buffet of Cheese and Cracker options, Campovida provided Gazpacho and a Grilled Asparagus Salad, McFadden Winery was grilling their Grass-Fed Beef, and Cesar Toxqui Cellars was offering up Lumpia, Slow-Roasted Pork Tacos, and a Cabbage Salad with Peanut Dressing.
One of our favorite dining experiences that weekend was enjoying slices from Mendough’s, Olan and Lia Cox’s catering business serving wood-fired pizza with a thin crust and local, seasonal and wild foraged ingredients. Fresh from the oven set up at Nelson Family Vineyards, we thoroughly enjoyed their Artichoke and Pesto Pizza as well as one with Pancetta, Pepperoni, Red Bliss Potatoes and Spring Onions.
We were also impressed with the pairings offered at Ray’s Station from Fork Catering, a Sebastopol-based Café and Catering Company headed by Sarah Piccolo specializing in fresh, organic, and local ingredients. The small bites they served included Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (with Tomato Jam, Pepper Mayonnaise and Caramelized Onions), Pulled Pork Tacos (with Creamy Slaw, Queso Fresco, and Herb Crema) and Mexican Chocolate Brownies.
Formed in January 2010, Destination Hopland is a non-profit organization with the mission of educating people about the unique agricultural and tourism attractions around the greater Hopland area. The Hopland wine community hosts a variety of events throughout the year including winemaker dinners, concerts, bocce ball tournaments, vineyards walks, olive harvest parties, and the bi-annual Hopland Passport wine tasting events. We had a lot of fun at the event, and if you were able to attend we’d love to hear about your personal favorites. If you missed the May event, please consider attending the next one coming on October 19-20, 2014.
For another passport-type wine tasting event in this part of Mendocino County, you may want to check out A Taste of Redwood Valley coming to the area just north of Hopland on Father’s Day Weekend, June 13 to 15. On Friday night, seven Redwood Valley wineries and a local distillery will join forces with Bella Cibo Catering to offer a special Winemaker Dinner featuring food pairings with wines and brandy. Menu items include Beet Ricotta Crostini, Roasted Vegetable Medley, Grilled Peach Salad, Parmesan Herbed Orzo, Stuffed Chicken Cutlets, and a Gourmet Cupcake Bar with Black Forest, Strawberry Mascarpone, and Limoncello Cupcakes. On Saturday and Sunday, visitors can travel along the back roads of Redwood Valley to taste library wines, unusual varietals, small production lots, and barrel tastings. For more information on the weekend, please go here.
Or, for the full-on Mendocino County experience, you may also want to consider attending the Taste of Mendocino event on June 10 in San Francisco. This is your chance to sip and enjoy wines from over 35 wineries (including many of the Hopland wineries recommended above) as you talk to Mendocino County winemakers, brewmasters, farmers, chefs, innkeepers, and other local artisans. To learn more about the event, please go here.