Yesterday, after work, I visited Saracina. Owners John Fetzer and Patty Rock, winemaker Alex MacGregor, and tasting room superstars Cassandra Mortier and Kassandra Zamanis hosted the winery and tasting room folks from Hopland, their neighbors, for a delightful relaxed get together.

These informal fun gatherings allow us the opportunity to taste each other’s wines, new releases we are especially proud of, to make pointing visitors looking for a particular wine type in the right direction easier.

Earlier this week, I had a taster at McFadden ask about Malbec. McFadden Farm has a cool climate, too cool to produce great Bordeaux red grapes like Malbec.

Saracina makes a Malbec. I tasted it yesterday, and it rocks. 2010 Saracina Malbec, Skid Row Vineyards. Smooth, full, dark cocoa, rich berry fruit, wood, and herb mingle in the glass. Supple. Hella yummy.

Also yummy: the 2010 Saracina Pinot Noir. I hate it when pinot Noir is described as Burgundian, but this Pinot Noir was Burgundian. Light Pinot funk, soft, feminine, earthy cherry and berry notes, lovely integration. Kassandra said the wine was pretty. Alex said I need to taste the 2011. I liked this pretty Pinot plenty.

Guinness McFadden and I brought our 2009 Mcfadden Reserve Sparkling Cuvee Brut, which John has purchased to use for celebrations at Saracina before, and our 2011 McFadden Late Harvest Riesling which was a revelation for a number of tasters. We’re proud of both wines.
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I was a guest on KSRO 1350 AM’s The Drive with Steve Jaxon show this week. Ordinarily, a different winery guest joins Steve in the five o’clock drive time hour for Wine Wednesday.

This was my fourth Wednesday visit in a year. Previously, I’ve represented McFadden Vineyards, Destination Hopland, and Coro Mendocino.  Now, with all new vintages released, I was back to talk for an hour about McFadden Farm and Vineyard.

Earlier the day of my visit, the conclave of Cardinals selected Pope Francis, and in honor of the news, Wine Wednesday was replaced for the week with Water into Wine Wednesday.

The show is three hours, and I was up for the last hour. The show ‘s other guests included two phone report on the new Pontiff; one from Rome, and the other with Dr. Matthew Bunson; Carrie Monolokas, who performed with Phish AND on Broadway in Wicked, overachieving wundersinger performed a song or three; Joel Selvin, the music writer for the Chronicle talked music; Deon Cole, last seen on Conan promoted his gig at Cobbs in San Francisco, Petaluma city councilman Gabriel Kearney ended up talking about the new Pope. Then I was up with Ben Pearson of the Bottle Barn and Joe Gaspardone of ThumbsUpWine.com wine finder as Steve’s special Water into Wine Wednesday cohosts.

We tasted through six wines that I brought, and some corned beef and cabbage I cooked in McFadden wine and herbs from the farm. The wines received a terrific reception; Ben Pearson seemed interested in bringing some into his store, which pleased me. Steve Jaxon invited me back any Wine Wednesday I am free to join his wine industry cohosts, Ben, Joe, and Tom (Simoneau).

Ben Pearson commented on air about the lack of marketing over the last 10 years from Mendocino County’s cooperative protocol sharing group of wineries program. After the show, he amended his comment to include the county’s entire wine presence, saying Mendocino County does not market its wines well, which makes his job of bringing them in to his store more difficult. You can’t stock what doesn’t sell, and things with buzz sell better.

I couldn’t agree more.
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The group tasked with the job of promoting Mendocino County’s wines, the Mendocino Winegrape & wine Commission,  was voted out of existence by a majority of the county’s grape growers last year.

The county’s main tourism group, Visit Mendocino, does a great job marketing Mendocino county as a place to visit, but marketing or promoting our wines is not really their job.

Individual wine tourism groups, focused on small portions of the county, from Hopland to Redwood Valley, and Anderson Valley the Yorkville Highlands, market and promote the wines of their little pockets of the county, but, if Mendocino wines are going to gain traction in the marketplace, a more vigorous and constant effort needs to emerge on behalf of all of us.

Mendocino Winegrowers Inc. (MWI), a volunteer collection of winegrowers and vintners operates on a shoestring budget, and while they have worked to help vineyards sell their grapes, they are (thus far) not capturing the attention of influencers like Ben, or the larger general public, with a message about our county’s quality wines.
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Burying the lead: My blather, shortened to roughly 750 words at a time, will appear weekly in the Ukiah Daily Journal. John On Wine will continue to exist, but expand to include a weekly newspaper wine column.

It will probably begin next week, and run either Wednesdays or Thursdays. I’ll post the pieces I write here after they publish in the paper and online.

I’m not going to pretend that my little wine column will have much impact on Mendocino County wine sales, or that a greater awareness of our wines will occur…but it can’t hurt.