I have visited Campovida, just about a mile east of Highway 101 on Old River Road in Hopland, often since Gary Breen and Anna Beuselinck opened their gates for the spring 2010 Hopland Passport, after the former Fetzer Valley Oaks property had been chained and neglected for the previous five years.
Originally, Gary and Anna allowed four labels under one larger umbrella wine brand, Magnanimus, to be poured at Campovida. Some of the wines were quite good while others were just okay, but the draw for me was never the wines but the property itself.
That said, Cesar Toxqui made a delicious gold medal winning Viognier for Gary and Anna’s new Campovida labeled wines.
The biggest news on the Campovida wine front is that Gary and Anna have hired Sebastian Donoso from his assistant winemaker position under Alex MacGregor at Saracina to be the winemaker for Campovida.
With 14 wine varietals in a beautiful new barrel room, Sebastian is expected to produce 17-22 different small lot release wines under the new and growing Campovida label.
I tasted through a number of wines with Taste of Place manager, Meagan McNabola, earlier this year. Taste of Place, the tasting room for Campovida, is open daily from 11 a.m. 5 p.m.
My favorite wine of the day was the 2011 Campovida Viognier $36. Round, 100 percent malolactic fermentation, many noted, light butter, oak, smooth, herbal, lightly floral, hay, and lots of fruit. The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition liked it too, giving it a silver medal this year.
We also tasted older Magnanimus wines under the Mendocino Farm label, and they are holding up well but I am honestly much more excited about the wines Sebastian will make in the future.
It feels odd giving the wines such scant attention, but there is more that happens at Campovida that deserves sharing.
Ken Boek, master gardener, first for Fetzer and now for Campovida, has brought the amazing gardens back with a lot of volunteer help and on Saturdays leads wonderful tours.
Organic vegetables, fruits and herbs grow in one garden that leaves me longing for a basket and permission to pick a little with every visit; fruit orchards, a cultivated rose garden, a lake, and of course, vineyards provide an abundance of sensory stimulus. The gorgeous colors, the rich scents, the sounds of birds and insects, the feel of different plants – all of it enjoyed with the taste of a delicious wine. I have spent hours walking alone, taking it all in, feeling tensions erased as calm settles over me, becoming a little in tune with nature. It is all so beautiful, powerfully beautiful, and breathtakingly so.
Many estate vegetables end up offered for purchase in Campovida’s Taste of Place, along with estate olive oil and honey made from Campovida’s hives. The taste of farm fresh food, still warm from the sun, picked just minutes before, is nearly religious in the power to move you.
The buildings at Campovida have also been restored, and the facility is often rented whole for weddings and events, with the rose gardens the site of a wedding and rooms on-site used for overnight stays by the folks after the event.
To handle overflow demand for rooms, Gary and Anna purchased the old Lawson Station on Highway 101 in Hopland and transformed it into the Piazza de Campovida.
Piazza de Campovida offers additional lodging for Campovida weddings and events, or for visitors to Hopland, and has another seven rooms, or suites, available. The Piazza also offers up pints of several hand crafted brews, bringing the hops back to Hopland, and their menu has grown from delicious wood oven fired artisanal pizzas to include sharable small plates, delicious salads, and larger rustic plate specials like venison stew.
Chef Adam’s menu at Piazza de Campovida constantly changes as only the freshest local and seasonal ingredients are sourced with an emphasis on organic growing. The food is spectacular and on a recent visit with a friend we sampled a pizza, salad, and a few small plates, sharing it all and having some yummy leftovers to take home afterward.
Especially nice: Piazza de Campovida waives corkage on any wine bottle purchased that day from a Hopland tasting room. I bought and brought a bottle of the 2010 McFadden Old Vine Zinfandel: a lighter Zin, that paired perfectly with every menu item we ordered.
The Piazza is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week, closed only Tuesday.
John Cesano loves his job, but thinks working at Campovida – outside as much as nature allows – would rock.