A testament to vision, resilience, and community
In the oak-covered foothills of Hopland, in eastern Mendocino County, you’ll find a unique property called Campovida. This farm and winery isn’t just a place; it’s a testament to vision, resilience, and community.
Trading urban hustle for tranquil charm
Anna Beuselinck and Gary Breen traded the urban hustle of Oakland for the tranquil charm of Mendocino, taking stewardship of what was once known as the Fetzer Valley Oaks property. Anna reflects on their journey, saying, “The first time I walked through the organic gardens that the Fetzer family had started back in the late ’80s, I had never been in such a beautiful space, yet it had been forgotten. We wanted to help bring that life back.”
An unexpected feature becomes an opportunity
The 15 acres of grapevines that came with the property weren’t just an unexpected feature, but a challenge and an opportunity. Anna explains, “My husband’s dream was to be around valley oaks because they only grow in open spaces. So between me wanting starry skies and him wanting valley oaks, and then we found this beautiful garden, we thought, we don’t know how we’re going to do this, but let’s do this.” They took on the challenge and made their first 120 cases of estate organic viognier shortly after moving to Mendocino in 2010. That’s a milestone that Anna proudly recalls, “And we won gold at the San Francisco Chronicle competition. Our very first harvest, our very first wine, we got gold, and that was it. The love affair between making beautiful Mendocino County wines, Sebastian, my husband, and me started.”
Influential figures and good advice
Two figures instrumental in shaping Mendocino County’s environmentally friendly farming practices, Glenn McGourty, and the late Paul Dolan, made a strong impact on Anna and Gary providing lots of encouragement and good advice.
Creating organic, high-quality wines
They hired Sebastian Donoso, a seasoned winemaker who had worked alongside John Fetzer on a custom crush program. Together, they set their sights on creating organic, high-quality wines, aiming to put Mendocino County on the map. Anna explained, “We were determined to help share the beauty of Mendocino wines and therefore, we named the vineyard on the label and started spreading the word. Our approach is to focus on single varietals with single vineyards, there are a few blends, but we name all the vineyards.”
A deep understanding of organic properties
When Donoso arrived at Campovida, he brought a deep understanding of organic properties, and dedicated farmers in Mendocino County. Together, they set their sights on creating organic, high-quality wines, a vision that has since grown to include a range of varietals like viognier, rosé, chardonnay, nebbiolo, sangiovese, and grenache. Their sangiovese, in particular, has garnered a devoted following. “I do love our rosé,” Anna says. “And we’ve been making award-winning grenache and rosé with biodynamic fruit from the Dolan Family’s Dark Horse Vineyards. We are now able to source our own organic estate grenache, and love our newest rosé made by our winemaker Rachel Gonduin.”
Continuing the inspiration and evolution of winemaking
Donoso moved on to work with Bonterra and remains a committed friend to Campovida. Rachel Gondouin took over the role of winemaker in 2022 and continues the inspiration and evolution of winemaking at Campovida. Anna says “We’re small farmers and it is incredibly time consuming to be certified organic, but we’re beyond committed to it.”
Commitment to education
Anna emphasizes their commitment to education, saying, “We try to put everything right in front of the customer so that we can help educate them on why it’s important to ask what’s going into your bottle and then into your glass and into your body.”
More than a winery: A connection with the land
Campovida is more than a winery. The property is home to a 13-acre organic garden and a working farm, offering visitors a chance to connect with the land. “We have the bees on the property. We have ‘consultant sheep’ that come in and out to till the land twice a year and naturally prune and compost. We have chickens, a donkey, and no fences that allow for the wildlife to help naturally steward the land.“
“We have so much humble gratitude for those that came before us,” Anna explains. The property was Pomo tribal land, then a stock farm, then hops and pear orchards, and after sitting neglected for a few years, reborn as Campovida. “The barns were built for farm animals and horses and cows and sheep and chickens.”
Anna and Gary’s impact goes beyond Campovida. They saw a way to help revitalize Hopland. Anna shares, “We wanted to breathe life into the town. The schools, grocery store, shops, and hotels were all closed when we moved to town.” The efforts of the entire community have turned Hopland into a thriving village with restaurants, retail shops, tasting rooms, and the school has re-opened. Gary and Anna’s projects include Stock Farm Inn and Restaurant, the thoughtfully restored Thatcher Hotel, and Feliz Creek Cellars, a custom crush and local storage facility for wine.
Committed to the community
Through challenges like the pandemic, Anna and Gary remain committed to their small town of Hopland and its community. They host a myriad of non-profit events, for local and Mendocino County-wide efforts including the Cancer Resource Center, 100+ Women, and the Humane Society of Inland Mendocino. Anna says, “We still have a lot more to do.”