Thursday, July 19, 2012

Party Valley in Potter Valley: A Night to Remember

A farm tour through the "mooselike" Sauvignon Blanc vines, passing the grazing cattle, while majestic alleys of oaks beckoned, festooned with balloon like tents below for 50 of the more than 200 revelers at McFadden Wine Club's magnificent 4th wine club dinner.

The party was so everything Napa isn't any more. In Potter Valley, there IS sophistication and style - but without pretense. From the grilled Magruder pigs (the same pork Alice Waters cooks at Chez Panisse, but this time grilled by the farmer himself) to the glittering assortment of fashion from funk to glamour adorning both young and old, this party had it all.

There was the opening farm tour with grower/proprietor Guinness McFadden, a New Yorker who landed here after the Vietnam War 40 years ago, and started growing certified organic wayback then ("I was raising my kids here"). Guinness led a crowd of some 25+ tourers, showing off the solar power, water power, and human power behind McFadden's vineyards, wine, and organic herbs.

After show and tell at a number of farm machinery - some old, some new- the group strolled through the Sauvignon Blanc vines which Guinness described thusly: "These go to Diageo - they used them in their Sterling Organic brand," (alas, Sterling is ending their organic program), noting that these vines are "as big as a moose so we have to trim them back."

All around majestic oaks (mostly gone from Napa; their presence sadly recounted in Robin Grossinger's Napa Valley Historical Ecology Atlas) and beautiful mountains beckoned. Potter Valley is a paradise.

Until 2005, there wasn't even any Roundup applied to wine grapes out here (at least according to the California State Dept. of Pesticide Regulation).

The area is definitely "off the grid" for wine lovers - except for a very few days of the year when McFaddens opens its doors for this magic-and-dancing-under-the-stars event.

There really are no words to describe the sweet delight of the tour and the evening, so I'll hope these pictures can do the talking for the tour part of the program. I'll publish more photos in a separate post on the evening festivities.

Hay rides - YES!
How long has it been...
Guinness leads a tour

Where the farm and vineyard gets energy is a big part of the story
at panels, water power - it's ahead of the curve.
Guinness shows off an old water wheel.
Note the solar panels on the roof in the background.
The organic herbs and herb blends are part of the tour.
The herb business helps keep the workers busy year round.
Here you can see the solar panels again...

What's a farm tour without some dangerous machinery to gawk at?
The discer
The vineyard tour
Traipsing down the Sauvignon Blanc allee
These grapes used to go into Sterling's organic brand, but no more since
Diageo ended its organic line.   Why...? We know not.
Guinness found another buyer for more money within a day.
Getting to the party was half the fun.

If you find yourself drooling over the locale and the scenery, you can still make reservations and attend the upcoming Coro Mendocino dinner which will be held at McFaddens August 18. 

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