Wine Column

Butow Vineyards

Passing it on. Don and Judye Butow are in the twilight years of managing the vineyard which has been in the Butow family since 1946. Located on East Road in Redwood Valley, the vineyard is in the process of changing hands from one family’s legacy of hard work, community involvement and farming to another’s. Jose Castanon, who lives with his… Read the rest
Wine Column

Brutocao Cellars

Italian Style in Hopland. The Brutocao family brings a sampling of the Italian lifestyle to Mendocino County. From the St. Mark’s Square (in Venice) lion on their wine label to their tasting room, restaurant and bocce courts, la dolce vita is what I found at Brutocao Cellars in Hopland. Playing on a bocce team for the last few years at… Read the rest
Wine Column

Breggo Cellars

Tradition and Innovation. “An advantage of being new,” says Douglas Stewart, winemaking proprietor of Breggo Cellars, “is you get to look at thirty years of winemaking history in Anderson Valley.” Slim and energetic with reddish hair and a light sprinkling of freckles, Stewart, 40, is realizing a dream to be a farmer since his childhood in Sonoma. He and his… Read the rest
Wine Column

Bink Wines

“Dream Big, Act Now….”. Two miles up the mountain northwest of Yorkville a magnificent Douglas fir tree shades a couple of lawn chairs. Hawk’s Butte rises behind. Seven acres of merlot and syrah vines green the golden hillside and encircle a pond below. The fir trees are nesting grounds for red tail hawks. This one is a granary tree. Thousands… Read the rest
Wine Column

Bells Echo

Sutton Family’s Big Adventure. Like the homesteading Italians in the 1880s and the back-to-the-landers of the 1970s Lisa and Ron Sutton were drawn by the beauty of Mendocino County, the fresh air, acres to hike and bike and making a living from the land. Unlike their earlier counterparts, the Suttons were in search of a weekend place to spend quality… Read the rest
Wine Column

Baxter Winery

French Flavor from Mendocino Vines. Two black and white magpies flit between the fence posts as I drive up the gravel driveway to Baxter Winery on Greenwood Ridge. The setting on this knoll is rustic and beautiful, with a stunning view of Signal Ridge and the last withering wisps of the lightning fires’ smoke along the horizon. As I pull… Read the rest
Wine Column

Barra of Mendocino

Writing about Charlie and Martha Barra of Barra of Mendocino and Redwood Valley Cellars (and Vineyards) is seasoned with possibilities. Their contributions to the community are many, their stories plentiful, and their history in the Mendocino wine industry is long. “Very long,” as Charlie, with eyes twinkling under his cap, is quick to point out. Sitting down with this energetic… Read the rest
Wine Column

Albertina Wine Cellars

In Synch with Nature. The gate was open when I arrived at Zmarzly Family Vineyards, home of Albertina Wine Cellars, five miles up the mountain just west of Hopland. Inside the gate I noticed two deer munching grass and looking nonplussed as I drove past them. Knowing that deer are not welcome in vineyards, I felt compelled to mention their… Read the rest
Wine Column

Wine and Mushroooms

Going Wild. As is true in other places of the world where wine and food grow together, Mendocino’s wine goes really well with local ingredients. That affinity includes wild mushrooms, something that the early Italian immigrants figured out pretty quickly. “When I was six or seven years old, I went with my father to pick wild mushrooms all through the… Read the rest
Wine Column

Milovina Vineyards

Farmer Reality Check. Surrounded by their manicured fish friendly farmed vineyards, a grove of mature and young olive trees, a compound of historic homes and farm buildings set against the western hills north of Hopland, the Milovina family shares some basic realities of their chosen livelihood. It doesn’t take long to dispel the myth that grape growing is a glamorous… Read the rest
Wine Column

Testa Ranch

Preserving a Name and Legacy. A lovingly restored farmhouse and the first release of Testa Vineyards wines portray the five generations of the Testa family of Calpella as it segues into the future, Italian birthright firmly in place. “We’re doing this to preserve our family heritage,” says Maria Testa Martinson, great-granddaughter of Gaetano and Maria Testa who established Testa Vineyards… Read the rest
Wine Column

Masut Vineyard and Winery

Continuing their Mendocino family’s winemaking tradition is so important to Jacob and Benjamin Fetzer they added the words “third generation” to their Masut wine label and their business cards.Their grandfather Barney Fetzer was one of Mendocino County’s trailblazing vintners and the two brothers grew up on the Fetzer family’s Redwood Valley “home” ranch. Now Jake, 29, and Ben, 30, make… Read the rest
Wine Column

Germain-Robin

World Class Brandy. Unlike a visit to wineries this time of the year, which are relatively quiet and chilly, at the Germain-Robin Alambic Distillery in Redwood Valley the first sensation is heat. “It’s warm in here from September through December and cold in January,” says Joe Corley who is responsible for distilling locally raised wine into cognac-style brandy. Germain-Robin brandy… Read the rest
Wine Column

Lula Cellars

Living the Dream. In 2002 Jeff Hansen discovered a vineyard that produces extraordinary Pinot Noir grapes a dozen miles from the Mendocino coast. He decided it was time to realize a long-held dream. “I was looking for a place to make wine I wanted to drink and sell it directly through a tasting room,” says Hansen, winemaker-proprietor of Lula Cellars.… Read the rest
Wine Column

Cold Creek Ranch

The Guntly Story. Surrounded in his comfortable living room by family photos, hunting trophies and other memorabilia, Buck Guntly talks about his family’s long tenure in Mendocino County. His Cold Creek Ranch covers 4,000 acres from Highway 20 to Potter Valley. The vineyard on this ranch is more than 30 years old but his family’s first vineyard is at the… Read the rest
Wine Column

Dempel Ranch Vineyards

Dempel Ranch Vineyards and Grapevine Nursery. On the ranch where he was born, Bob Dempel of Dempel Farming Company raises grapevines. He grows grapes for wine, but also half of his hillside vineyard/nursery is devoted to the continuation of noteworthy grapevines. When I met him at his Hopland vineyard off Highway 101, six workers were clipping long canes from Gewurztraminer… Read the rest
Wine Column

Trinafour Cellars

Mendocino Wine Touts Scottish Heritage. Paying homage to his Scottish ancestry, Alex MacGregor launched Trinafour Cellars. Echoing that tribute, he makes his wine with heritage Mendocino grapes from Redwood Valley. Trinafour wines sport a red and blue family tartan and recognition of MacGregor’s ancestral home near Perthshire, Scotland. I met MacGregor for an interview at Patrona restaurant in Ukiah over… Read the rest
Wine Column

Hopland Passport

Gustatory Gala. Hopland Passport makes me hungry. In addition to tasting wine with roots in France and Italy, wood-fired pizza, tri-tip and lamb sliders, exquisite finger foods, Hawaiian luau fare and chocolate truffles are just the the first course. Add amazing music and art and the upcoming Hopland Passport on Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1 is the place… Read the rest
Wine Column

Professional Wine Service Certificate Program

Mendocino Wine Service: Seminars with the Pros. You may notice new and improved wine service in some of Mendocino County’s restaurants from Ukiah to the coast the next time you dine out. Thirty-four local restaurant servers recently took part in the first Mendocino Professional Wine Service Certificate Program hosted by the Mendocino Winegrape and Wine Commission (MWWC). “I wish I… Read the rest
Wine Column

Chiarito Vineyard

Reverence for the Old Ways. I won’t say that John Chiarito should have been born in another time or place, even though he could have been. When I met Chiarito (pronounced kee-a-ree-tow) at his winery in Talmage, I was immediately struck by love of the best of the old Italian ways. “My family came to this country from southern Italy.… Read the rest

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