Wednesday, June 3, 2015

IN PHOTOS: A Taste of Mendocino Showcases Local Wine and Cheese Purveyors

Mendocino's well known for its two major wine regions - Anderson Valley and the inland valleys surrounding Ukiah (including Hopland, Eagle Peak, Redwood Valley and Potter Valley).

 Once a year as a region, it puts on a trade show and tasting for SF's wine crowd, inviting in sommeliers, wine merchants, wine buyers and restaurant wine directors to peruse its many attractions - from the annual Anderson Valley fair - with its apple competition and sheep farming activities - to the Little River Inn in scenic Mendocino.

 This year, as usual, the vintners with organic vineyards were a standout, presenting a variety of wines ranging from everyday table wines from Bonterra, Barra of Mendocino and McFadden Vineyard, to fine wines from Masut and Handley.

Old vine lover and vintner Alec MacGregor was on hand, providing a focused tasting of his five small lot wines sourced from some of Mendocino's 65+ year old vines.

A new cheese company in Anderson Valley also came to town - Pennyroyal Cheese. In part, it's the offspring of Navarro Vineyards, a long time Anderson Valley vintner. Its cheeses complement a variety of wines perfectly with distinctive and delicious flavors. (I succumbed at the free tasting and bought three to take home).

 The vintners invited attendees to two varietal panels - one showcasing the 6 different Pinot Noir appellations in the county and the other on Chardonnay.

 Enjoy these photos of the day's events.

Martha Barra and Katrina Kessen of Barra of
Mendocino; the 25,000 case winery's largest markets are
Chicago (Whole Foods) and restaurants in New York 
The largest organic brand in the world,
Bonterra makes more than 350,000 cases of organically
grown wines each year. Chardonnay tops the list.
Guinness McFadden of McFadden Vineyards, is a
long time (40+ years) grower who's also a vintner.
He sells his grapes to major brands (Riesling is a specialty)
and, under his own wine label, sells 5,700 cases on the
east and west coasts.
The pleasure of tasting at a regional event is meeting
micro-producers who make as little as 500 cases of
wine; Alex MacGregor from Trinafour made my list
of the best wines of the day for his Niemi vineyard
Carignane and Petite Sirah (pictured below)

One of Mendocino's many charms is the diversity of
farming in the county - including apples from
Anderson Valley; here the county fair is represented;
in addition to apples, sheep farming traditions
are on display at the fair (in Sept.) 
My favorite food discovery of the event - Pennyroyal
Cheese from Boonville, which has 6 delicious
sheep and goat's milk cheese to choose from...
Perfect for pairing with wine: Pennyroyal's aged Tomme... 
Its younger tomme...
...its take on brie.... 
And Laychee - its fresh goat cheese
Pinot Noir workshop panelists (from L to R) Jason Drew of Drew
Family Wines, Jacob Fetzer of Masut Vineyards and Winery, and
 Jason Ruppert of Alder Springs Vineyard
The trade tasting was well attended by wine merchants (from small shops
to Costco's local rep) and restauranteurs

The 6 AVAs included McFadden's Pinot from Potter Valley (far left) and
Masut's reserve Pinot (center right) from Eagle Peak AVA

Masut's Pinot Noir, from the Eagle Peak AVA

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