Zac Robinson, co-owner of Husch Vineyards, said a group of Mendocino County wineries and vineyards are forming a regional group with voluntary membership.
—As soon as next week, a new association to promote the Mendocino County wine industry may hit the Internet. So far, 2012 has been a contentious year for Mendocino County, notably because an election officially dissolved
the Mendocino Winegrape & Wine Commission in June. Most county wineries supported the commission, while a slim majority of grapegrowers voted to close it down.
Since the decision was announced, Mendocino growers and vintners have scrambled to unite, meeting various times at wineries throughout the diverse county to form a new promotion entity. Zac Robinson, co-owner of Husch Vineyards
in the Anderson Valley, moderated the most recent gathering at Handley Cellars
in Philo on July 24. Speaking with Wines & Vines
yesterday, he said the nascent group is progressing rapidly. “Everyone gets it.” The need for a new association to continue building the Mendocino brand is, he said, “kind of a no-brainer.”
After three meetings, “Everything is absolutely fantastic. I thought it would be an uphill battle to get everyone together, but everyone is enthusiastic,” Robinson said. “What’s coming together is a general consensus. Of course we’re going to build a new group—including both vintners and growers.” Unlike the MWWC, membership will be voluntary, he said. “It will work for its food. I wouldn’t be surprised if a shell or skeleton organization would be up within 30 days.”
The meeting at Handley assembled a 'foundation board,' a temporary board of directors working to establish by-laws. It included volunteers from Hopland, Redwood Valley, Anderson Valley and “all over” the county, Robinson said. He suggested dues would be based on vineyard acreage and “probably wine production. You’ve got to make it easy on people.”
Meanwhile in Mendo
Although the MWWC officially closed at the end of June, long- planned promotional activities are moving right along. “The great thing is that even though there’s no organization right now, everything on the agenda is still happening. There was a 30-sommelier tour of Mendocino County last week,” Robinson said. “It was a bummer for the first couple of weeks, though.” He also reported happily that so far the growing season “looks normal. Not cold, not wet, it’s wonderful. It’s the oddities that make us scratch our heads.”
Still on the MWWC agenda (and website) are the 36th annual Mendocino Wine Awards. Adjudicated by a panel of 16 professional judges (including Wines & Vines
contributor Laurie Daniel), medals will be awarded Aug. 3 at a dinner in the former Weibel Winery. For tickets, visit mendowine.com
Weibel made the headlines earlier today with an announcement that the Hopland property was acquired by Vintage Wine Estates, which owns Healdsburg’s Grove Street Winery
and other brands, in a deal brokered by Zepponi & Co.
of Santa Rosa, Calif. Weibel Family Vineyards & Winery
continues to operate at its headquarters in Lodi, Calif., where it produces some 300,000 cases annually, according to WinesVinesDATA.
The transaction included a 40,0000-square-foot winemaking facility, fermentation building, residential guesthouse and vineyards in the McDowell Valley AVA near Hopland. Financial terms were not announced.
Mendocino has long boasted that it’s the “greenest” California county, and an annual event to benefit its Cancer Resource Centers will emphasize its sustainable wine industry. “Pure Mendocino” will be held at green guru Paul Dolan’s 160-acre Dark Horse Vineyards property in Ukiah. The event includes tastings of organic wines from county producers, an organic dinner, live music and dancing, starting with a wine and appetizer reception at 5 p.m. on Aug. 25. For an additional fee, visitors can learn about Biodynamic farming during a vineyard tour. For reservations or sponsorship information, visit puremendocino.org
Passport to Hopland
In the southeastern county, Hopland is the gateway to Mendocino for Bay Area travelers, and the wine industry there maintains an active promotional presence, working closely with Destination Hopland
This year, its 21st annual Fall Hopland Passport Weekend is scheduled for Oct. 20 and 21. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 17 local wineries will pour new and library wines paired with “fresh, homegrown foods.” Tickets are $45 in advance and $55 if purchased at the event; designated drivers can feast for free. On Saturday only, a shuttle service will circulate to the wineries from local hotels; only 100 tickets are available at $30.
Participating wineries include Brutucao Cellars
, Cesar Toxqui Cellars a>, Graziano Family of Wines
, Jaxon Keys Winery
, Jeriko Estate
, McFadden Vineyard
, McNab Ridge Winery
, Milano Family Winery
, Naughty Boy Vineyards
, Nelson Family Vineyards
, Rack & Riddle
, Terra Savia