Hopping up to Hopland

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It’s that time of year again!  The Easter Bunny is coming, hams will be baked and wines will be opened.  After the celebrations of food, wine, and family, why not spend a weekend away from the hustle and bustle in Mendocino’s hopping wine town of Hopland. On Saturday and Sunday, May 3-4, 17 wineries in Hopland will open their doors to celebrate spring.  Hopland, about 90 minutes north of San Francisco, is the gateway to Mendocino County and offers both the atmosphere of a small town, but the fun and elegance of any wine destination. From 11am to 5pm, these wineries will have their best wines open for tasting, including library wines, as well as live music, food pairings, and other fun things.  Even better, a shuttle service will take you from one end of of Hopland to the other, so you don’t have to worry about driving! Some of my favorite stops on the list for this event are: Campovida, with a stunning Rose that always sells out.  The Rhone style wines, located in the old Fetzer property are simply stunning.  Don’t miss this stop! McFadden Vienyard, right in town, has budget friendly yet stunning wines from Pinot Gris and Riesling to Zinfandel.  Don’t miss the bubbly here!  Saracina, a beautiful property north of town with fantastic Sauvignon Blanc Seebass Family WInes, a new kid on the Passport trail, with delicious syrah And more! Tickets are $45 including the free shuttle service, and designated drivers are always free.  Collect all the stamps in your passport and enter to win a passport for next year! Thank you to Destination Hopland for letting me attend, and saving me some yummy wines for Sunday! Google  

Hopping along

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Ah the lazy days of summer seem long gone this week, as the cold weather settles in.  Warm hazy days made room for crisp, clear winter days.  Somehow, fall managed to escape us this year.  On one of those last balmy weekends, I headed up to Hopland to do a little winetasting.  Hopland is about 1 1/2 hours north of San Francisco, past Healdsburg and over the next set of hills in to Mendocino County. There are about a dozen wineries in the town of Hopland itself, with many more just outside the tiny town limits.  Having a main street that is 90% wine tasting rooms has its benefits!  Park the car once, and stroll down the street experiencing the local wine. I started my weekend off at Rack & Riddle, a custom crush sparkling wine house, that also produces its own label sparkling and still wines.  I skipped right to the sparkling table, and enjoyed three different sparkling wines.  I really like what they do here, and I wasn’t spitting ANY of these wines!  If you get the chance, stop by and say hi.  It’s worth it! Next up, I headed in to town and started off at Cesar Toxqui Cellars.  It was a bit hard to taste big reds on a day that was over 80, but my favorites here were definitely the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (because I’m a pinot freak) and the Heirloom.  Heirloom is a luscious blend that is primarily Bordeaux varietals, with a dash of Hopland zin thrown in.  You’ll see a theme about that zin soon, as I start to explore the Coro series of wines. Across the street from Toxqui, there are 6 tasting rooms in a row.  Rough!  First, McFadden Vineyards where my fellow blogger and tasting room mad scientist John was holding court.  The mastermind behind the blogger tour of Hopland, John introduced me to Hopland’s crown jewels, the whites.  Pouring two Rieslings, the current release, which was fresh and full of stone fruit, it was the antithesis of the library selection 2006 Riesling which was all petrol and spice.  This is a classic Riesling, and an exceptional wine.  For a little fun, McFadden also produces a sparkling, which is a great way to have a picnic on the porch! Right next to McFadden are McNab Ridge Winery and Weibel Family Vineyards.  I didn’t get to pop in there on Saturday because the crowd was a bit…crazy, but I will tell you that at dinner, the McNab Ridge Coro stole my heart. What is this Coro I keep talking about you ask?  Coro Mendocinio is a wine project that incorporates the best of Mendocino County wine, with a distinct voice by each winery.  In Italian, Coro means chorus, and these wines reflect the collaborative sprit of Mendocino winemakers.  Each participating winery has their own version, and I was fortunate to be in Hopland the weekend when most of the current vintages were open. Coro Mendocino is made exclusively from Mendocino Country fruit, and must adhere to a particular standard.  Since […]

I'm Hopping along…

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  To Hopland!  I’ve never actually been to Hopland, and while I”ve had some of the wnies that are produced there, next weekend will be the first time I’e been able to spend time focusing on the area.  The 20th Annual Hopland Passport kicks off Saturday, and runs through Sunday, showcasing 16 wineries, as well as food pairings and live music. Hopland has gone to great lenghts to make this festival enjyable, including a shuttle that will whisk you from winery to wienry in air conditioned (err heated?) comfort.  I’m going to be pretty spoiled since they will even pick me up at my hotel!  Shuttle tickets are $20, but tha’ts a small price to pay to be able to drink in relaxed ease all day. Tickets for the Passport are $45 for both days, and can be purchased in advance online or at any of the wineries listed below.  They include all wine tastings and activities, as well as a keepsake logo glass.  The 16 participating wineries are: Jeriko Estate – serving roasted pig and tri tip paired with Estate wines Saracina Vineyards – Truffled Cannellini bean puree and grilled flank steak (YUM! Weibel Family Winery – Shitake mushroom bruschetta Cesar Toxqui Cellars – Garden fresh pumpkin soup paired with new release 2010 Chardonnay. My hosts at McFadden Vineyard are serving organic steak, and new releases. Parducci Wine Cellars will be serving fresh oysters at their new tasting room Campovida is pouring sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines paired with Mexican street food Milano Family Winery will be releasing their ’09 Sangiovese and ’06 Lolonis Zinfandel!  Now I know this zin, and it’s not like any zin you might be expecting.  A great wine! Jaxon Keys Winery has live music by the Felt Tips and artisan pizza McNab Ridge Winery is pouring pinotage Nelson Family Vineyards is also serving pizza, this time int he redwood grove.  Ahh relaxing!   Wait, did I just see PORK AND PINOT?  I might never leave Jeriko!  But then again, there are oysters are Parducci! Hopeland is approixmately 2 hours north of San Francisco, just past Ukiah, in Mendocino County.  THe cooler climate products some great wines!  Hope to see you there!   Hopland is the center of a thriving wine community and gateway to beautiful Mendocino County – America’s Greenest Wine Region. Explore the pages in our site for information on wine tasting, arts & culinary events, health & wellness and other fun activities offered in our area, then get on the road  and make the trip to visit us here in the beautiful upper Russian River Valley.   Thank you to McFadden Vineyard and the Hopland Passport for inviting mne to this wondeful event!