John on Wine

Winery spotlight: Naughty Boy Vineyards

By John Cesano

 

 

The Naughty Boy Vineyards tasting room, open from noon until 5:00 p.m. every day, except Monday and Tuesday, is located in the Vintage Marketplace building, along with McFadden, Graziano, and Ray’s Station, in downtown Hopland.

Owners Jim Scott and Emjay Wilson-Scott named their retail space WaaWaa ­ – wine, art, and antiques x 2, and once the name is explained, the presence of a cornucopia of collectable antiques and memorabilia becomes instantly understandable.

“I can’t stop myself from collecting,” explained Emjay, when I asked her why she chose to include antiques in her tasting room, “I like old things. You touch a bit of the past with them.”

Emjay’s father was a collector, and she said she comes by the collector gene naturally. As she talked of her father, and their mutual passion for antique hunting, the items on display became more than mere objects, but took on some of the magic of memory, as I imagined Emjay and her dad purchasing a found treasure, storing it, and now, finally, it was in my hands, an echo from the past.

With a display constantly changing, I looked at small groupings of collectable antiques, including books, cameras, taxidermy, bronzes, antlers, glassware, kitchen items, paper kites, cigarette lighters, and much, much more. Everywhere were things to marvel at, things previously unseen.

Of note is an amazing piece of display furniture, originally found at a San Francisco jeweler’s shop. The piece is amazing for its enormous size. I do not envy anyone who was ever involved in moving this giant, even more amazing is that this is just one of a twin pair of gargantuan display furniture pieces. Filling one wall, it is perfect for the WaaWaa space.

Many items are priced much lower than they would sell for online, but Emjay explained that if something sold for more than her dad originally paid for it, then everyone is a winner.

An artists’s soul is evidenced by Emjay’s unexpected mixing of seemingly disparate elements into a more pleasing, previously unimaginable, whole.

The wines of Naughty Boy Vineyards, poured amidst the profusion of sensory stimulating collectables, are named for “little Ricky.” Jim and Emjay have always had boxers, one of whom was named little Ricky. Little Ricky loved Potter Valley, and would become joyfully excited each time he recognized that he was nearing the vineyard Jim and Emjay own. Little Ricky used to run, and play, as he walked the vineyard as Jim worked it. After passing, after a heartbreaking battle with cancer, little Ricky was laid to rest on the vineyard property, which was named for him. The Naughty Boy was little Ricky, not Jim as many might guess, and his spirit lives on as the tale of little Ricky is shared.

The wines are labeled Naughty Boy Vineyards, complete with a picture of little Ricky, or more simply NBV, with a crown over the letters. Emjay described the NBV label as the “Marin retail” label , for restaurants that don’t embrace the Naughty Boy dog.

Naughty Boy Vineyards was planted to Pinot Noir in 1996. Jim farms the five acres organically.

2010 Naughty Boy Chardonnay, Thornton Ranch, $16. Thornton Ranch in Potter Valley is known for great Chardonnay grapes, with many finding their way into bottles of Kendall-Jackson Grand reserve Chardonnay. The Naughty Boy Chardonnay spends 18 months to 2 years in mostly French and some Hungarian oak barrels. The wine has a really light vanilla and pear nose, leading to light vanilla cream, apple and pear in the moth. Round and delicious.

2011 Naughty Boy Dry Rose of Pinot Noir, Potter Valley, $16. Made with organically estate grown grapes. Smooth, round, and accessible. Delicious fruit, but not fruity. This is a terrific wine, and drinks like crushed strawberry cream over ice.

2007 NBV Pinot Noir, Mendocino $17. Made with organically estate grown grapes. This is a lovely wine, my favorite in the line up. Plummy cherry and cola. I wrote the word “Love” in my notes, and then underlined it, so I might have liked it a bit. I also wrote drinkable and accessible again.

I have found much of Potter Valley’s Pinot Noir to be really accessible. Where there is often a funky edge, love it or not, to many Pinot Noir wines, nearly every Potter Valley Pinot I have tasted is soft, approachable, and accessible because they are free of the funk.

2009 Naughty Boy Pinot Noir, Potter Valley $26. Made with organically estate grown grapes. Herb, loamy forest, mushroom, dry warm cherry, and spice make up this easily drinkable wine.

2008 NBV Dolcetto. Mendocino, Fewer than 100 acres of Dolcetto are planted in California, and Jim and Emjay source their grapes from Pete Chevalier in Talmage. $12. Dry, earthy wine, showing tannin, berry fruit, with very little smoke.

Naughty Boy Vineyards at WaaWaa is not your regular tasting room. A look around the room is sure to spark memories from your youth, as you see collectable antiques that take you right back in time. The ever changing art installations and lovely wines will bring you right back to the yummy present.

John Cesano doesn’t look forward to the drive into Potter Valley ever, but is always happy he made the drive each time he visits. Definitely worth a Sunday drive.
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Note: The day after this piece ran in the Ukiah Daily Journal, I was visited by a Potter Valley couple who took issue with my suggestion that Potter Valley is a distant travel, and were concerned that I might single-handedly ruin the area’s precarious economy by scaring away the enormous tourist trade Potter Valley is known to exist upon.

The alarm siren and flashing lights you are experiencing may be your sarcasm detector going off right about now. Seriously folks, stop reacting to fragments of sentences and embrace the columns as they were intended. I’ve stopped writing about forced alcohol consumption by pregnant women and ritual animal sacrifice among the townspeople of Calpella, I promise. Just chill, okay?

Usually, when I go to Potter Valley, I am driving from the McFadden tasting room in Hopland to McFadden Farm at the very north end of Potter Valley, where Powerhouse Road ends, a 46 minute drive. That said, there are many places in Potter Valley only 15-20 minutes from Ukiah. Everyone cool now?

Oh, and the Potter Valley couple were kind enough to read my article and visit the Naughty Boy tasting room as a result of my recommendation, so they did show that Potter Valley to Hopland isn’t that long a drive really…and they tasted through our wines with me so now we are all married by wine sharing. That’s how it is done in Potter Valley – or was that Willits?

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I really do love Mendocino County, and the area of inland Mendocino I travel around constantly, very much. Last weekend, I visited 8 wineries and 1 distiller during A Taste of Redwood Valley. I loved my visit with Crispin Cain of Greenway Distillers during my visit to Germain-Robin. I know so little about distilling, but more for having talked with Crispin, with more to come when we can get together again for a tour. With love and respect to everyone on the ATORV circuit, best stop of the day for me, because I got to learn stuff, a whole encyclopedia of stuff, I didn’t know before.

And the juice was awesome. I took some home (after paying for it ’cause the bottle was too big to hide under my shirt).