Monday, October 5, 2015

Attention Table Wine Shoppers: Hopland Passport is Coming Up (October 17-18)

Drive to Hopland, Save Money on Wine and Have Fun

Tired of going to winery events where only people richer than you can afford the wine? Hopland Passport is the event for you.

Earlier this year, I posted a piece about the best, affordably priced, organically grown wines - it got more than 3,000 views.

So for all of you wine lovers who read it or for anyone who's in search of table wines ($10-25) from organic vines - and your numbers are legion - set your sights on Hopland. Go with an empty car trunk.

Twice a year Hopland's wineries put on a party - and for wine lovers who prefer organic vines, it's a party with a purpose - wine buying. Because this is a weekend when the wineries offer big discounts on affordably priced organically grown wines. Many make it a point to stock up on their yearly supply of table wines at this event. (There are also plenty of fine wines, too.)

Paula and Adam Gaska, Mendocino
Organics, raise produce and livestock
on Golden Vineyards' land.

And, where else can you find locals raising organic, grass fed beef and heritage breeds at a wine event? Meet McFadden and Greenhorn farmers Paula and Adam Gaska. They'll both be serving forth.

Don't know where Hopland is? Calibrate: Healdsburg plus 20-30 minutes further north on Highway 101. Straight through.

Passport costs a mere $45 (2 days) for wine drinkers (free for designated drivers, who won't get free wine but will get plenty of free eats).

Learn Something

This year there's something new at Passport - SEMINARS. Wineries are sharing their expertise with the public, and you can learn a lot about what makes organic farming important as well as Mendocino traditions.

Organic veteran wine grape grower and vintner Guinness McFadden, a grower in Potter Valley farming organically for 40 years, will be doing chats on organic farming at the tasting room on both days. Many of his grapes go into high end Napa wines.
Sebastian Donoso - his Grenache
from Paul Dolan family's Dark Horse
Ranch should be on your list of wines
to taste during Passport

Chilean born winemaker Sebastian Donoso from Campovida will also be on hand to talk about white Rhones.

And Nelson Family Vineyards will be talking about viticulture (growing wine grapes). They farm both organically and non organically, so they are a great resource to learn from in terms of understanding the differences between the two approaches.

Terra Savia will also be offering an olive oil seminar. You can see its impressive (no pun intended) community olive oil presses, too.

Eat Local

Also new this year: SIP Mendocino, Hopland's wine store focused on local wines - is under new management. Now owned by Joe and Julie Golden, who have farmed their vineyards Biodynamically since 1999 (Heart Arrow Ranch and Fairbairn), the wine shop will be featuring heritage, grass fed meats, raised by Greenhorn farmers Adam and Paula Gaska who run a local CSA farm, Mendocino Organics, and raise livestock on the Goldens' Redwood Valley land.

Have fun - there's free eats at most of the wineries and some also have music - and support organic vineyards (the people who don't use toxic pesticides in contrast to the other 95% of the wine industry in California which generously spritzes Roundup under each and every vine) by visiting the wineries offering organically grown wines.

Find a complete list of the wineries and menus here.

Visit These

Wineries with organic vines include:

All Organically Sourced Wines:
• Jeriko Wine (known for Pinot Noir)
• McFadden Vineyards (30% discount if you buy a case or more)
• Terra Savia (Specialties: Chardonnay and sparkling wines)

Some Organically Sourced Wines:
• Campovida
• Nelson Family
• Saracina
• Toxqui Cellars (Zinfandel-Split Rock)

Also swing by Barra of Mendocino, which is in Ukiah, not Hopland - another great table wine producer (with a few finer wines, too) and beloved by Charlie Barra's northern Italian friends (where the Barra family is from),  Slow Foods founder Carlo Petrini, who gave Barra an award of appreciation in the Bay Area several years ago.

Nelson Family's Orange Muscat
My Best Bets List

• McFadden Chardonnay, old vine Zin, and sparkling wine (30% discounts for case buyers in the wine club)
• Terra Savia sparkling wine (Chardonnay based; sold at Bay Area Whole Foods the rest of the year)
• Campovida's Grenache from Dark Horse Ranch - truly a great wine (and it costs like one, too but treasure the bottles - they go fast as this is a very small lot wine)
• Nelson Family Vineyards orange muscat - a rarity and a fun treat - also makes a great gift for your non serious wine friends

While You're in the Area: Shop the Ukiah Natural Foods Wine Dept.

My favorite place to shop for organically grown table wines is Ukiah Natural Foods which has 30+ local organically grown wines - the best that I have seen anywhere. Beats BevMo by a mile for this category. You can also mix and match here from different local wineries. Want to try ALL the different Chardonnays from organic vines? Go for it. In Mendocino, most of the wineries (except for Campovida, Nelson, Saracina, and Trinafour) do bottle label their wares.

You'll find lovely rarities like Alex McGregor's 2012 Trinafour Carignane from the historic Niemi Vineyard there (under $20, only 150 cases made). One of Mendocino's top tier winemakers, McGregor's Trinafour doesn't have a tasting room, so this is the most convenient way to find it.

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