The 21st annual spring Hopland Passport wine weekend will be celebrated on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm each day. Guests may buy a ticket for $55 at any of the 16 participating Hopland Passport wineries, or for $45 when purchased online at www.DestinationHopland.com by noon Thursday, May 3, 2012. Upon check in at any winery, you’ll receive a commemorative glass, a wristband, and a new-this-year multi-page passport to collect stamps from each winery and make note of favorite wines for later purchase.
Each winery will pour delicious wines served up with amazing foods; plus many will offer tours, host live music, or other entertainment.
Each Passport has a tear out page for entering a drawing where over 30 fantastic prizes will be awarded.
A Shuttle Pass, good for Saturday only, is available for $20. Shuttles will pick up and return guests from designated Ukiah hotels.
Designated driver tickets are available at no cost online.
Heading south from Ukiah, the first winery stop is at Nelson Family Vineyards, located almost midway between Ukiah and Hopland, a good half mile west of Hwy 101 down Nelson Ranch Road.
Nelson Family Vineyards will be serving up estate wines paired with delicious pizzas made with fresh and local ingredients including chevre and sun dried tomatoes, prosciutto and arugula, Gorgonzola and artichoke all atop the most incredible crust you’ve ever had from Mendough’s Wood-Fired Pizza. Enjoy frangipane (almond custard tart) by Cousteaux Bakery paired with a delectable dessert wine to finish your tasting.
A short drive north, a big old farmhouse sits on a hill overlooking the highway. You’ve reached Jaxon Keys Winery, where “I Wanna be a Rock Star” is the theme. You might run into Jimi Hendricks, Jim Morrison, or Elvis; with live music provided by The Felt-Tips. Forget the rock ’n roll lifestyle of “we’ll all stay skinny ‘cause we just won’t eat” as the “green room” at Jaxon Keys will be fully stocked with delicious wine and food pairings fit for a star.
Up next is Saracina Vineyards, offering gourmet carne asada “blossoms” in celebration of Cinco de Mayo from food truck Street-eatz to accompany award-winning Saracina and Atrea wines. Resident crooner, Ramon will serenade guests with festive Cinco de Mayo music, and Saracina tasting room hosts will offer wine cave tours on Saturday.
Neighboring vineyard and winery Jeriko Estate will be serving Mexican inspired pizzas along with chips and homemade salsa in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Daniel Fries and Trio Paz will be providing live musical entertainment. Guests may also enjoy barrel tastings, current releases, library wines and special deals on case sales.
When you first hit town, you’ll find three tasting rooms in the big two story yellow Vintage Marketplace building on the left side of the road.
First up, Weibel Family will offer Korean braised pork belly tacos, lamb and pinenut meatballs, hanger steak on crostini and Mexican chocolate brownies by Sarah Piccolo and her fabulous Fork Catering food truck to pair with delicious wine and bubbly offerings including the release of our inaugural Mendocino Brut – a limited production sparkler composed of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from our estate vineyards. Club Weibel members will enjoy a 30% discount on cases.
Mere steps away, Graziano Family of Wines will pair their Italian and old world-style wines with imported Italian cheeses, including Reggiano and Pecorino, and imported sausages, as well as pate, Trudi Graziano’s famous tapenade, pork tenderloin marinated in and served with Stroh’s Ranch Marinade and fresh strawberries.
McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room is the last of the three Vintage Marketplace stops.
McFadden will pour all their wines, made from organically grown grapes, and owner Guinness McFadden will be signing bottles as they are purchased.
Out the back door, McFadden will be cooking up grass fed beef steaks, served up with 100% pure wild rice & artichoke heart salad, and a delicious green salad, with local Schat’s Bakery sourdough – everything seasoned with herbs and herb blends – all family farmed and organically grown at McFadden Farm.
Everything at McFadden will be discounted with McFadden Wine Club Members enjoying an enormous 40% discount on cases of wine at the McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room.
Across the street and half a block down in a rustic barn wood sided, metal roofed building, McDowell Valley Vineyards will have music and the delicious Mexican food that has become a much treasured tradition for Passport weekend visitors, prepared by friend of McDowell Leticia Gonzalez, spilling out of the tasting room and onto the side street.
Cesar Toxqui Cellars is three buildings down, on the next block. Asia meets Mexico with delicious tacos filled with roasted pig meat, served with a side of classic Filipino lumpia, and a traditional dessert of flan. New releases include a new wine, the 2010 Viognier; a new label, the 2010 Immigrant Zinfandel; and a Barrel Tasting of a new Dolce Paloma Port. Cesar and his wife Ruth recommend pairing Zinfandel with pork, Viognier with lumpia, and Port with flan.
McNab Ridge Winery is in a new location, the bright yellow former schoolhouse right next to Cesar Toxqui Cellars. Savory pork spareribs, so tender they fall off the bone, served with delicious homemade red potato salad, over a dozen of our gourmet dips and spreads, and fine handmade truffles by Mike Miller of Decadence; all served to showcase different wines being poured.
Bottle Painting by local artist Leslie Bartolomei, and much, much more will be sure to captivate at McNab Ridge.
Across the street in the building McNab Ridge used to pour from, the new Piazza de Campovida will offer visitors an Inn, a Taverna, and Pizzeria de Campovida – a thin crust wood fired handmade pizza experience. Pizza and porter at the Piazza, plus a place to spend the weekend right in town! If you want a room, call (707) 744-1977 for reservations.
Brutocao Cellars will be pairing wines with different exotic wood fired pizzas. Fun is guaranteed with bocce ball, other games, and contests to participate in. Live music is also a much loved Brutocao tradition at Hopland Passport, so bring your boogie shoes.
Parducci Wine Cellars’ Hopland tasting room at the Real Goods & Solar Living Institute campus is where you’ll find fresh succulent oysters paired with Sauvignon Blanc and Sustainable White. Red wine lovers will enjoy gold medal winning small lot blend Pinot Noir paired with pork medallions with a raspberry balsamic glaze over creamy polenta. Wine and oysters, wine and pork…..who could pass this up?
The southernmost winery on Highway 101, operating out of a hop kiln, Milano Family Winery will be serving scrumptious tri-tip marinated and smoked over red wine barrel staves & mesquite with rolls, an abundance of yummy vegetables and dips, and aged to perfection, delicious Cabot Creamery cheeses.
Performing Saturday at Milano Family Winery is the rockin’ band BLIND SPOT – a group of friends who enjoy playing rock & roll, blues and pop. On Sunday, Oscar Calderon will be singing and strumming on his guitar.
Milano Family Winery is always busy with fabulous wines, delicious food, art & craft vendors, and terrific music.
To the west of Hopland, up Mountain House road, you’ll find two wineries. The first, Rack & Riddle, is a large facility set back off the road a bit. Rack & Riddle is home to many of the great bubblies poured in Hopland and beyond. During Passport, Rack & Riddle will feature festive, gourmet Mexican cuisine, serving lime & shrimp ceviche, warm tri-tip sliders, and chips & guacamole, pairing perfectly with their award-winning sparkling wines and newly released still wines! Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style with Rack & Riddle!
Terra Savia will pair medal winning wines and bubbly with Papa Darrell’s deliciously scrumptious tri-tip with bordelaise sauce, mushroom caps stuffed with walnuts and herbs, Candida DeLorenzo’s baguette pudding with fresh spring cherries, orange infused olive tapenade on crostini, and honey & lavender baked walnuts. Music by the highly entertaining and original local brother & sister duo, The Avery’s, will have you swinging your hips and stomping your feet.
To the east of Hwy 101, on Old River Road, lies Campovida, a gorgeously peaceful retreat that you have to set aside some time to explore. Campovida will be serving up authentic Mexican street faire – soft, warm corn tortillas topped with your choice of steak, chicken or vegetables, with a splash of spicy salsa, and a shower of sweet onion and fresh cilantro, which will accompany a lineup of sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines. A tour with master gardener Ken Boek of the famous Campovida gardens is an absolute must.
For more information, or to purchase Hopland Passport tickets and/or Shuttle passes, visit online at www.DestinationHopland.com
Okay, I’ll be honest, this was a piece written by committee with owners and managers from each of the 16 wineries providing a blurb for the “wineries and menus” page under the Hopland Passport tab on the Destination Hopland website, then me taking those blurbs and stringing them together with edits as needed into a single post…not my best but the piece above will appear next week with a photo or two in the Ukiah paper and will serve both to remind folks to pick up last minute tickets and to provide a possible order for winery visits.
Anyway, I promised tickets, and I’ve got a pair of tickets to Hopland Passport to giveaway. Leave a comment before midnight on Thursday, April 26, not on facebook or twitter, but to this post on my blog and show me that you’ve read my post – or found the poorly hidden answer to the following question: which winery owner will be signing bottles during Hopland Passport? I’ll pick a winner and contact them on Friday, April 28.
Tune in to KSRO 1350 AM in Santa Rosa on Thursday, April 26 from 5:00pm to 6:00 pm – or go to KSRO.com and click the “Listen Live” button to listen online – when I join my good friend Steve Jaxon on his best-show-north-of-the-bay The Drive With Steve Jaxon to talk about Hopland Passport. We will taste wines from up to a dozen Hopland wineries live on air, talk about the offerings from each of the 16 participating wineries, and we’ll likely give away a pair of tickets (or maybe two pair) toward the end of the show. Steve will be attending Hopland Passport this year, and you’ll hear plenty of reasons to get your own tickets and join us all.
Disclosure: I manage the McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room and provide marketing services to Destination Hopland.