Last weekend, The Solar Living Institute campus was the place to be on Saturday for Earth Day Festival 2012.
Organizers Spencer Brewer, Vicki Milone, and Ross Beck put on a terrific event, with an estimated attendance of over 1,500 to taste organic, made with organically grown, biodynamic, and sustainable wines, along with many certified organic food products.
Live music, vendors, and exhibits – along with perfect Summer like weather – rounded out the incredible inaugural FREE festival event.
Having worked the event, I appreciate all the work put in by Spencer, Vicki and Ross that allowed so many folks to highlight an important aspect of the area we live in – our everyday care for the Earth.
Mendocino County has the highest concentration of green vineyards and wineries anywhere in America, and for the campus of the Solar Living Institute to play host to many of them on a site dedicated to responsible eco balanced living, in Hopland, was a powerful example of cohesive messaging through thoughtful event management.
Piazza de Campovida had a soft opening last weekend in Hopland at the location previously known as Lawson’s Station, the former home of the McNab Ridge Winery tasting room.
Piazza de Campovida is home to an Inn, a Taverna, and a Pizzeria. The Inn is open now. The Taverna and Pizzeria were open only for the weekend to work out any wrinkles.
The second soft opening will be next Friday through Sunday to serve the visitors for the Hopland Passport wine weekend, in the Taverna and outside on the patio.
Soon after, the restaurant remodel will be finished, and both the Taverna and Pizzeria de Campovida will open for regular service at the Piazza.
This summer, another tap room and restaurant is supposed to open in Hopland where the old Hopland Brewery was located.
Together with Burgers My Way, Jalos Taco Truck, Blue Bird Café, Subway, and both the Hawk’s Nest Bar & Grill and Pepperwood Steakhouse at Hopland’s Sho-Ka-Wah casino, these new Hopland restaurants will provide a more complete Hopland destination experience for visitors who come for wine tasting at our 17 tasting rooms or a weekend getaway.
While there are 16 winery tasting rooms in the Hopland area, don’t forget SIP! Mendocino, a tasting room serving many hard to find Mendocino county wine labels, and look for new winery tasting rooms to open in the not too distant future.
Both Campovida on Old River Road and Piazza de Campovida on Highway 101 provide lodging, and it is the sincere wish that needed renovation, repair, and reopening of the historic Hopland Inn may occur some day in the future. There are also many hotels in nearby Ukiah for visitors to our area.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and again in the future, but things are hopping in Hopland.
One dozen wineries made a bottle of wine available for possible tasting on air. Here’s a list of the wines:
2006 Milano Echo, Bells Echo Vineyard
NV (2009) McFadden Sparkling Brut, McFadden Farm
2009 Jaxon Keys Estate Primitivo, Michael’s Reserve, Norma’s Vineyard
NV Rack & Riddle Blanc de Noirs, Sonoma County
2009 Atrea Old Soul Red by Saracina
2009 Weibel Merlot, Mendocino County
2009 Enotria Barbera, Mendocino County
2010 Parducci Small Lot Blend Pinot Noir, North Coast
2010 Jeriko Estate Pinot Noir, Dijon Clone
2010 Cesar Toxqui Cellars Grenache, Mendocino
2009 McNab Ridge Pinotage, Napoli Vineyard
2010 Campovida Viognier Estate Grown
A bit limited by time, we tasted just five of these delicious wines, but they were a great representation of what Hopland will be offering wine quality wise during Hopland Passport.
Steve Jaxon’s favorite winery name was Jaxon Keys, which he remembered as Jepson, before the purchase and changes made by Ken and Diane Wilson.
In spite of time limits, I managed to compare the best attributes of Hopland Passport, value and accessibility, with the least favorable attributes of a larger event, price and unavailability. Subsequently, it was pointed out that my comparison was less than deft and I apologize to anyone listening Thursday afternoon that took umbrage. I tend to toil away well and then once a year I do something stupid, hopefully this was it for 2012. My only consolation is that my words will have as little negative effect on a perpetually sold out world class event as the effect of saying I prefer stainless steel Chardonnay would have on the sales of millions of cases of Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay…none.
Just like my last visit to KSRO, the boards lit up like a Christmas tree when we announced that there were some tickets to Hopland Passport available to be won.
I did manage to say a lot of good, smart, things too and we had a great time. I love seeing Mike DeWald dissolve into laughter as he works the board for Steve Jaxon. I am always heartened to see others who get to do jobs they love too. My thanks again to Steve and Mike for being such great hosts, I hope to see each of you if you do make it up to Hopland next weekend.
Another recent guest, Jason Stanford wrote on his blog, “A couple of days ago I got to go on what might be the best radio show in America not named Fresh Air, Radio Lab or This American Life: The Drive with Steve Jaxon on KSRO. Steve and his producer Mike DeWald get ridiculous guests. When I was on Wednesday, I followed someone from The Daily Show, and the Sklar Brothers came on after me. I felt like the comedian at the strip joint.”
I totally felt what Jason wrote, with a previous visit sandwiched in between days featuring Lily Tomlin and Andy Dick, I wonder at my great good fortune and the fun oddities that life sometimes presents.
Herb Crust Pizza with Shamrock Goat Cheese from Willits
With Pizza on my mind last weekend because of the opening of Pizzeria de Campovida, and set up for the McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room with the folks from Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese as my neighbors at the Earth Day Festival, I was reminded of a terrific pizza recipe that owes much to a good friend Nancy Cameron Iannios and much to Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten, but a whole lot to organic and delicious local ingredients.
Ina Garten made some savory onion tarts that I stole the topping recipe for and used with pizzas. When I complained about my terrible pizza crust in conversation, Nancy shared her herb crust recipe.
The things that I do that make the recipe pop: After cooking down sliced onions, I revive them using organically grown stainless steel held McFadden Chardonnay and cook them down again. I use organically grown air-dried McFadden Farm herbs for the dough that makes the crust. I use Shamrock goat cheese. These three seemingly small choices make a huge difference; quality ingredients increase the finished pizza flavor tremendously.
Like any pizza, the additional toppings can be changed to suit your mood and what’s tasting great seasonally, but in addition to the onions and goat cheese, for those that don’t read Ina’s recipe, I add tomato slices, Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil and olive oil.
There are many terrific herb crust dough recipes online, again the key is to use organic air dried herbs. Many commercial herbs are irradiated which boils off volatile oils resulting in weak flavored herbs; find a local organic grower that air dries their herbs. Visit your local healthy co-op market.
That’s it. Have a pizza. With wine. In an eco-friendly way. And thanks again Steve and Mike.