June 2013

John on Wine

Spotlight Winery: McFadden Vineyard

John Cesano of John On Wine

John Cesano of John On Wine

By John Cesano

Originally Published in the Ukiah Daily Journal on June 27, 2013

Guinness McFadden planted the first wine grapes in Potter Valley more than 40 years ago, in 1970, and has grown organically from day one. In a perfect example of doing well by doing right, Guinness has grown bio-diversely, raising grass fed beef and culinary herbs, braiding premium garlic bulbs, boxing 100 percent pure wild rice, fashioning herbs into holiday wreaths (sold by Williams-Sonoma for the last 38 years), and, of course, growing some of the county’s most sought after grapes.

The grapes from McFadden Farm have been sold to Robert Mondavi, Sterling, Chateau Montelena, Navarro, Piper Sonoma, Paul Dolan, and Dashe, among many others, and the wines made from McFadden Farm grapes have been tasted by the nation’s top reviewers: Robert Parker, James Laube, Virginie Boone, Charlie Olken, and Stephen Tanzer.

In 2003, Guinness saved some of his grapes and released his first wines under the McFadden Vineyard label in 2005.

In 2008, Guinness opened the McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room in Hopland and, in 2011, he asked me to manage it.


Guinness McFadden in 1970 at McFadden Farm in Potter Valley

McFadden Farm is 500 acres, at the north end of Potter Valley, up against the mountains, and is where the famed Russian River springs to life before flowing from the river’s highest elevation. The mountains throw shade and collect wind and, with the elevation and the river itself, these cooling influences make McFadden Farm the coolest property in the valley with the largest nightly temperature drop.

The cool climate allows a little extra hang time for grapes, leading to fuller flavor development, where the same grapes grown elsewhere would have to be picked sooner or suffer the burnt fig and prune notes of raisining. The nightly temperatures that plummet through the summer bring high acid, which provides structure for the wines and balance for their prevalent fruit notes.

Experimenting with growing, Guinness found the best ways to grow his grapes. Some varietals are head pruned while others are trellised, some grow on the bank of the river in loamy soil while others grow on rocky hillside slopes, and some are dry farmed while others are irrigated. These different methods lead to grapes that allow the winemakers, Bob Swain at the Mendocino Wine Company and Raphael Brisbois at Rack & Riddle, to make top quality wines.

The 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition awarded the 2011 McFadden Chardonnay, $16, a Double Gold Medal, making it both the highest awarded Chardonnay in Mendocino County at the largest judging of American wines in the nation, and the highest awarded unoaked Chardonnay in the country.

A first ever Dessert White entry – McFadden Farm is famous for dry Alsatian styled Gewurztraminer and Riesling – ­ the sublimely sweet 2011 McFadden Late Harvest Riesling was judged Best of Class (the best Late Harvest Riesling in the nation) at the same competition.

Virginie Boone, wine writer and reviewer of Mendocino County wines for Wine Enthusiast Magazine wrote, “A Mendocino County pioneer, McFadden Farm continues to impress with its cool-climate whites, sparkling and dessert wines, and is well-deserved in receiving both a Best of Class and Double Gold in the Chronicle’s recent wine competition. Their wines just keep getting better and these recent awards nicely reflect that.”

Just Wine Points, an extension of Wine X Magazine, rated 13 McFadden Vineyard wines 94 Points or above in the last year. The Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Coro Mendocino, and Sparkling Cuvee Brut wines of McFadden Vineyard are uniformly excellent.

There are two ways to taste the wines of McFadden Vineyard.

The easiest way is to visit the McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room at 13275 S Hwy 101 #5 in Hopland, in the same building that houses the tasting rooms of Graziano, Naughty Boy, and Ray’s Station. If you visit during the week, I’ll pour for you and tell you about each wine. If you visit on the weekend, another happy McFadden pourer will welcome you gladly. While visiting, you will also find a freezer filled with grass fed beef, jars of air dried herbs and herb blends, honey, boxes of wild rice, braids of garlic, and holiday wreaths, ­ some items seasonally, ­ grown organically at McFadden Farm and available along with bottles or cases of top quality wines for purchase.

The most fun way to taste McFadden wines is to attend the Wine Club Dinner at the Farm on Saturday, July 13 from 5-11p.m. Open to the public, but limited to the first 225 tickets sold, this is our biggest and most fun event each year. The fun begins with a wine and appetizer reception at 5 p.m., while some take a walking tour of the farm with Guinness. Dinner is prepared by Chef Fontaine McFadden and features locally raised grilled pork and lamb, vegetable dishes, salads and desserts. McFadden wines and sparkling Brut will flow, including saved library wines and new releases. Dancing goes late into the night. Of the 225 who will attend, we expect 100, or more, will come early, set up a tent, and then stay overnight for camping.

The entire night’s fun takes place on the bank of the Russian River at McFadden Farm, 16000 Powerhouse Road, Potter Valley.

Tickets are $60 each. McFadden Wine Club members can purchase two tickets at $50 each. Children 12 and under are just $20 each. Tickets sell out, but can be purchased in advance by calling the McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room at (707) 744-8463.


John Cesano manages the McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room in Hopland and had to cut about 2,500 words to make this – the easiest column to write so far – fit in the space allowed (and still went long).


Ukiah Daily Journal weekly wine column for June 27, 2013

Ukiah Daily Journal weekly wine column for June 27, 2013

Okay, that was the piece than ran in the journal. Here’s a little more:

So, the morning this ran, I spoke with Guinness and he let me know that I had a couple of facts wrong in the piece. In my defense, these “facts” that were wrong have been widely reported by others before me, and I assumed them to be true.

I shared later that night, at a wine gathering, how humbling it is to report something incorrectly and how, when writing a column about another winery, there is almost an assumption by the folks I visit that errors will creep in to any story written about their winery; Jason McConnell at Rivino winery once told me that he was happy when something written about his winery was 90% accurate.

I do not shoot for 90% accuracy in my writing. I really want to hit 100% every time, so it was especially bothersome to see inaccuracies in a piece about the place I’ve worked the last few years. If I don’t know the story, who does?

Owen Smith, my friend and the interim winemaker for Barra and Girasole, made me smile when he referenced what might be the best line in the movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” I think Owen was telling me that the Universe would forgive my errors as, ironically, they helped tell the story more truly.

When dealing with a character as legendary as Guinness McFadden, when I read that Guinness planted the first grapes in Potter Valley, I believed it, and I have passed on that “fact”.

Turns out that Thornton planted grapes in Potter Valley before Guinness did, but why let that truth get in the way of the legend?

John on Wine

Spotlight Winery: Ray’s Station

By John Cesano

Originally published in the Ukiah Daily Journal on June 20, 2013

So, wine lover that you are, you were driving on Highway 101 through Hopland and noticed the new sign for Ray’s Station where there used to be a sign for Weibel and wondered what’s going on. Let me tell you, there is a new winery tasting room in town.

Ray’s Station is the Mendocino jewel in the many jeweled crown that makes up the wineries owned by Vintage Wine Estates. Sister wineries include Girard and Cosentino in Napa County, and Windsor Vineyards and Sonoma Coast Vineyards in Sonoma County.

“Ray’s Station wines are a tribute to the intrepid, pioneer spirit of John G. Ray and his unique brand of rugged individualism,” explains the new wine brand’s website. “In 1846, former Army Captain John G. Ray moved West to the rough-and-tumble frontier of Northern California… Hard-working and self-reliant, Ray struck it rich in the Gold Rush. He gathered his family and their earnings ­ literally pickle jars full of gold dust ­ and… in 1859, John G. Ray opened Ray’s Station along the stagecoach route to the geysers… Parched travelers and their weary horses would stop at Ray’s Station… Libations flowed, the food was filling, and the accommodations ­rustic at best… John G. Ray became a local legend for his rustic yet warm hospitality.”

When Weibel sold their winery on Highway 175 between Hopland and Lakeport to Vintage Wine Estates, owners of the Ray’s Station brand, followed by a transfer of their downtown Hopland tasting room lease shortly after, the folks at Vintage Wine Estates demonstrated brilliant business sense by offering Margaret Pedroni and the team she had built with Weibel new jobs opening the Ray’s Station tasting room.

I have often said that people matter enormously in this industry and the community is especially fond of Margaret, who has done an amazing amount for the local wine scene, so it is great news that Margaret is the tasting room manager at the new Ray’s Station tasting room.

Margaret is ably joined by Ashley Quiroga and Jen McAllister in rounding out the crew.

Margaret recently tasted me through the new lineup of wines she is pouring at Ray’s Station. I would encourage my readers to give her a visit, and the wines a taste. Starting a new tasting room is difficult, and I would love it if we could get her a few extra visitors here in the early days. Here are my notes on some of the wines, hopefully they will inspire you to come say hi to Margaret and her team.

NV Ray’s Station Brut, North Coast, $27 ­ This sparkling brut is a blend of 65 percent Chardonnay and 35 percent Pinot Noir, has a nice tight bubble structure, and a nose and flavors of tropical pineapple, peach fruit, and yeasty bread.

2011 Ray’s Station Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast, $16 ­ Tons of seductive aromatics: mown hay (it’s a good smell), citrusy orange and lemon, lush and fleshy fruit..

2010 Ray’s Station Chardonnay, Mendocino, $14 ­ Really nice. Terrific value. Oak, toast, and butter meet citrus, apple, and pear, and they all have a party in your mouth.

2012 Ray’s Station Rose of Carignane, North Coast, $16 ­ This is gorgeously colored, think of a pink carnation and you’ve got the color, while the weight offers a nice mouthfeel, and the flavors are rose petal and strawberry cream. Folks are going to love this.

2011 Ray’s station Zinfandel, North Coast, $17 ­ Rich nose of caramel, butter, and dark berry follows right through to the mouth where the fresh fruit flavors, are met by a touch of oak and nice bright acidity. The result is a feminine, very enjoyably drinkable Zin.

2007 Ray’s Station Syrah, Mendocino, $20 ­ Straight up, this wine is the bomb. Inky purple color, extracted red, purple, and black fruit, cassis – dry – really long finish. Cedar wood notes, supple tannin, leathery, currant, cherry, plum, and on and on and on. Any lineup with this wine in it is a good wine line up.

I also tasted a wonderful red blend called Ray’s Red and a solidly enjoyable soft Merlot that I liked very much.

Margaret’s signature graces two wines she helped complete; the 2008 Weibel Coro Mendocino, and the upcoming 2010 Ray’s Station Coro Mendocino which will be released on Saturday, June 22 at the Little River Inn.

The Ray’s Station tasting room is located where the old Weibel tasting room was, right next to Graziano, at 13275 South Highway 101 Suite 1, and is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


John Cesano likes all of his winery neighbors, but is especially grateful for Margaret’s friendship.




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.

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?


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).







































































My focus in writing has been the inland Mendocino County wineries, sometimes referred to as the 101 corridor or the upper Russian River, stretching from Hopland to Ukiah and Calpella to Potter Valley.

Here are the wines from the area I write about that took medals at the 2013 California state Fair Commercial Wine Competition that you can taste. The area took more medals, but some of our winning wineries do not have tasting rooms open to the public, so their award winning wines aren’t mentioned here…sorry.

Note: I’ve updated this post to add the 100 Point Scale rating each wine received as well. The info provided by the CA State Fair has been changed to include these ratings and to delete the Best of California varietal winners and the Best of Show red, white, and dessert wine winners so those can be announced at a future event. Of course, we know who won the Best of Show award in the dessert category because I noted it when the original data was posted earlier – the winner is noted at the bottom of this post. I’ve also included a table of awards given this year vs. last year. Specifically, Chris Macias, a competition judge, reported that Mike Dunne, competition co-chief judge, “encouraged judges to be as discriminating as possible when awarding medals.” The table makes clear that they were indeed quite stingy with their awards.

State Fair Numbers

Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/dining/archives/2013/06/calif-state- fai-2.html#storylink=cpy

I’ve provided the address for each medal winning winery’s tasting room.

Get out there and taste some wines. Did the judges get it right? You decide.

Barra of Mendocino/Girasole – 7051 N State St., Redwood Valley, CA 95470

2010 Girasole Red Blend Bronze 86 Points

2011 Girasole Pinot Noir Silver 88 Points


Brutocao – 13500 S Hwy 101, Hopland, CA 95449

2012 Bliss Generic Rose Silver/Best of Class of Region 90 Points

2010 Bliss Merlot Bronze 86 Points

2010 Bliss Zinfandel Bronze 87 Points

NV Bliss Generic Red Silver 88 Points

2011 Bliss Sauvignon Blanc Silver 89 Points

2011 Bliss Chardonnay Silver 88 Points

2009 Brutocao Coro Mendocino Bronze 86 Points

2009 Brutocao Merlot Bronze 87 Points

2009 Brutocao Zinfandel Bronze 87 Points

2009 Brutocao Italian Red Blend Bronze 87 Points

2009 Brutocao Primitivo Bronze 86 Points

2010 Brutocao Cabernet Sauvignon Bronze 87 Points

2010 Brutocao Pinot Noir Bronze 86 Points

2011 Brutocao Chardonnay Silver 91 Points

Frey – 13771 Hwy 101, Hopland, CA 95449

2012 Frey Syrah Bronze 87 Points

2012 Pacific Redwood Merlot Silver 88 Points

McFadden – 13275 S Hwy 101 #5, Hopland, CA 95449

2009 McFadden Coro Bronze 86 Points

2011 McFadden Gewurztraminer Bronze 86 Points

2011 McFadden Late Harvest Riesling Silver 90 points

NV McFadden Brut Silver 90 points

2009 McFadden Reserve Brut Silver 92 Points

2012 McFadden Sauvignon Blanc Silver 88 points

Parducci – 501 Parducci Rd., Ukiah, CA 95482

2011 Parducci Chardonnay Gold/Best of Class of Region 94 Points

2010 Parducci Merlot Bronze 86 Points

2009 Parducci Cabernet Sauvignon Bronze 87 Points

2011 Parducci Pinot Noir Bronze 86 Points

2010 Parducci Cabernet Sauvignon Gold 95 points

2011 Paul Dolan Sauvignon Blanc Silver 89 Points

2010 Paul Dolan Zinfandel Silver 88 points

Ray’s Station – 13275 S Hwy 101 #1, Hopland, CA 95449

2011 Ray’s Station Merlot Silver 88 Points

Rivino – 4101 Cox Schrader Rd., Ukiah, CA 95482

2012 Rivino Chardonnay Silver 89 Points

Seebass – 3300 Old River Rd., Ukiah, CA 95482

2011 Seebass Chardonnay Silver 93 Points

Okay, not an inland Mendocino County winery, but an impressive Best of Show award goes to a Mendocino County neighbor over the hill in Anderson Valley:

2012 Navarro Late Harvest Gewurztraminer Double Gold/Best of Show 96 Points

John On Wine

Wine is busting out all over in June

By John Cesano

Originally published in the Ukiah Daily Journal on June 6, 2013


Here are four big wine events for our local Mendocino County wineries, each a great opportunity for you to taste our county’s wines:


Taste of Mendocino

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 • Trade & Media Tasting 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. • Public Grand Tasting 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. • Golden Gate Club in San Francisco’s Presidio • Tickets are $25

Sometimes getting folks from San Francisco to visit us in Mendocino County is difficult, so each year Mendocino County visits San Francisco to remind the folks there about all we have to offer visitors.

“Hosted by Mendocino Winegrowers, Inc. and Visit Mendocino County, this intimate, wine-filled event is a showcase of all the people and products that make Mendocino County such a special destination for wine lovers, outdoor enthusiasts and rebels.”

Participating wineries include Abertina Wine Cellars, Alder Springs Vineyard, Balo Vineyards, BARRA of Mendocino/Girasole Vineyards, Bink Wines, Brutacao Cellars, Claudia Springs Winery, Demuth Kemos Wines, Drew Family Cellars, Elke Vineyards, Edmeades, Frati Horn Wines, Frey Vineyards, Graziano Family of Wines, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards, Handley Cellars, Harmonique, Husch Celllars, Judson Hale Winery, Kimmel Vineyards, Lula Cellars, Maple Creek/Artevino Winery, Masut, McFadden Vineyard, Meyer Cellars, Navarro Vineyards, Parducci Wine Cellars, Paul Dolan Vineyards, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Seebass Vineyards and Family Wines, Testa Vineyards, Trinafour Cellars, and Waits-Mast Family Cellars.

Other participating Mendocino County institutions include Assagiare Mendocino, B Bryan Preserve, Camp Navarro, Craft Distillers/Germain-Robin, Kemmy’s Pies, Living Light, Mendocino Brewing Co., Mendocino Music Festival, Mendocino Organics, Ocean Harvest Sea Vegetable Company, Sapothecary, Skunk Train, Thanksgiving Coffee Company, and Visit Ukiah.

For more information, or to buy your tickets online, visit https://tasteofmendocino.chirrpy.com/


A Taste of Redwood Valley

June 15 & 16, 2013 • 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. both days • Two day tickets are $30.

“On Saturday & Sunday, visitors can meander along the back roads of Redwood Valley to each winery and distillery to taste library wines, unusual varietals, small production lots and experience the fun of tasting right out of the barrel. Guests will enjoy plentiful offerings of food, live music, and local farmers’ market stands. Each winery is family owned and is unique in its setting, its wine and food presentations, and its welcoming ambiance. Visit with the winemaker, vintner or grower, and listen to their stories, ask technical questions and experience the wines of a truly unique appellation.”

Participating wineries include:

Barra of Mendocino /Girasole Vineyards • 7051 North State Street • 707-485-0322 • http://www.barraofmendocino.comhttp://www.girasolevineyards.com

Cole Bailey Vineyards • 1482 Inez Way • 707-485-9507 • http://www.colebailey.com

Frey Vineyards • 14000 Tomki Road • 707-485-5177 • http://www.freywine.com

Germain-Robin • 1110 Bel Arbres Drive • 707-468-7899 • http://www.craftdistillers.com

Giuseppe Wines •395 School Way • 707-485-8458 • http://www.giuseppewines.com

Graziano Family of Wines • 1170 Bel Arbres Drive • 707-744-8466 •  http://www.grazianofamilyofwines.com

Oster Wine Cellars •13501 Tomki Road • 707-485-5257 • http://www.osterwine.com

Silversmith Vineyards • 8121 Vineyard Oaks Dr. • 707-485-1196 • http://www.silversmithvineyards.com

Testa Vineyards  • 6400 North State Street • 707-485-7051 • http://www.testaranch.com

There is also a Redwood Valley Winemaker’s Dinner Friday night at Testa Vineyards. For more information, or to buy your tickets online, visit http://atasteofredwoodvalleysummer2013-efbevent.eventbrite.com/#


Taste of Downtown (Ukiah)

Friday, June 21, 2013 • 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. • Tickets are $30

“This evening of fine wines, marvelous micro brews and specialty food items is perhaps one of the most anticipated events of the year. The evening festivities will also include local musians and local artists, and it all takes place on the streets of Historic Downtown Ukiah.”

2012 Participants include :

Wineries: Lavender Blue, Zina Hyde Cunningham, Chiarito Vineyard, Husch, Claudia Springs Winery, Craft Distillers, Graziano Family of Wines, Parducci Wine Cellars, Cesar Toxqui Cellars, Frey Vineyards, Bonterra, McNab Ridge, Fetzer Vineyards, Navarro Vineyards, Weibel Vineyards, McFadden Vineyard, Jaxon Keys, Rivino Winery, Jeriko Estate, Neese Vineyards, Milano Family Winery, McNab Ridge Winery, and Ceago Vinegarden

Breweries: Anderson Valley Brewing Co., Eel River Brewing, Mendocino Brewing Co., Kona Brewing Co., Lagunitas, Lost Coast Brewing, Mad River Brewing Co., Shock Top, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

For more information visit http://www.ukiahmainstreetprogram.org/news-details.asp?id=102&subarea=Home


10TH Anniversary Coro Mendocino Release Party – celebrating the 2010 vintage

Saturday, June 22, 2013 • 6:00 p.m. • Little River Inn, 7901 N. Hwy. 1, Little River, CA 95456  • Tickets are $500 per couple

“Join the winemakers of Coro Mendocino for a weekend of fine food and wine as they celebrate their 10th Anniversary and the release of the 2010 vintage. Taste a showcase of each winery’s white and sparkling wines during the cocktail hour, then feast on a gourmet dinner for two prepared by Chef Marc Dym before taking home a full set of the 2010 Coro Mendocino.”

Participating wineries include Brutocao, Claudia Springs, Fetzer, Golden, Mendocino Vineyards, McFadden, McNab Ridge, Parducci, Philo Ridge, and Ray’s Station.

There is also an exclusive V.I.P tasting of library Coro Mendocino magnums on Friday, June 21st, 4:30-6:30 p.m., limited to the first 30 release party guests that reserve at $75 per person.

Seating for the five course dinner is limited reservations are required, call the Little River Inn to secure your spot (7017) 937-5942. For more information, visit http://www.coromendocino.com/index.php/pages/release_party


John Cesano is looking forward to tasting many different wines this month.


Spotlight winery: Saracina

By John Cesano






Visit enough wineries, and you will develop some favorites. For me, in Mendocino County, Saracina, about 1.5 miles north of downtown Hopland on the west side of Highway 101, is at the top of my personal favorites list.

I keep coming to Saracina, again and again, because owners John Fetzer and Patty Rock have built something remarkable. In a very short time, they have transformed what was the Sundial Ranch – best known as the original source of Fetzer Sundial Chardonnay (today that wine is made largely from Lodi sourced grapes, a real shame) ­ into Saracina, a source of constantly changing beauty.

John Fetzer is the consummate gentleman farmer and, on my last Saracina visit, John was busy raking the concrete walkways around his tasting room after a windy night. John’s shock of white hair moving in the continuing morning breeze, in stark contrast to his tanned skin, eyes sparkling and smile huge, he shared that he would love to be outside working constantly, and would happily if he could.

Someone once pointed out to me the huge difference between Mendocino and Napa county vineyards. Their vineyards are largely brown, but the earth between Mendocino County grapevine rows is most often green. Cover crops fixing nitrogen and providing competition for moisture so vines are challenged and yield characterful grape flavors, natural grasses and in the case of Saracina, a spring profusion of red-orange color from Italian Red Willow trees, or a summer color block of sunflowers, just lend to the beauty that visitors to our area enjoy.

The tasting room at Saracina is all clean lines – rendered in stone and glass – a lovely environment that allows the sense to focus on the wines, oil, and honey that are born on the ranch.

Cassandra Mortier is the tasting room manager, and together with Kassandra Zaminis, guests at the ranch are sure to feel welcomed and well cared for, as wines are poured and each is made more memorable by having a little story shared about it. Informative and entertaining, the passion of these two women is on constant display.

2011 Saracina Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino County $23 ­ Bright pear fruit, hay, melon nose. Wet stone mineral crisp meets lemon orange citrus, with enough acid for a Grateful Dead show parking lot. Really like this.

2012 Saracina Unoaked Chardonnay, Mendocino County $18 ­ Delicate multi-noted, fun, orange blossom and peach. Zero malolactic, but not the aggressively lean and crisp style expected with roundness coming from a 4 percent blending of Viognier. Young. Good. Will get better with age.

2011 Atrea The Choir White Wine, Mendocino County $20 ­ 46 percent Viogner, 54 percent Rousanne. Light honey, stone fruit nectarine meets bright apple.

2010 Saracina Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Klindt Vineyard $38 ­ I love this wine! Pretty, feminine. A good, light, Pinot funk in the nose. Gorgeous cherry, strawberry, red fleshy fruit shine.

2011 Saracina Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Klindt Vineyard $38 ­ Alex, the winemaker, likes this one more than the 2010. Soft nose. Dry. Cherry cola and herb. Young.

2010 Saracina Malbec, Mendocino County, Skid Row Vineyard $28 ­ Cocoa, lush fruit, fantastic wine. Purpled burgundy color. Soft tannin. Blackberry and cassis.

2009 Atrea Old Soul Red, Mendocino County $25 ­ A Coro by any other name still tastes as sweet (but may sell for less). 59 percent Zinfandel, 20 percent Petite Sirah, 14 percent Syrah, 7 percent Malbec. Ahhhh! Best nose yet! Chocolate, rich, leathery. A basket of jammy berry fruit.

Winemaker Alex MacGregor is a superstar winemaker, showing an especially deft hand with Rhone varietals: Viognier in the Chardonnay; Viognier and Rousanne in the Atrea White; Syrah and Petite Sirah in the Atrea Red: and both Petite Sirah and Syrah held separately on limited releases.

Saracina is also where I first fell in love with premium quality olive oil. I grew up in an Italian house, and olive oil finds a place in nearly everything that comes out of my kitchen. I always bought the biggest container of Star olive oil available, when on sale, and thought it was good Š until my first taste of Saracina olive oil. John has planted hundreds of imported Italian olive trees, four different types, and blends the olives for a complex combination of flavors when they are pressed locally into oil. Lively, so much yummier than grocery store oils, I found myself purchasing it years ago, even when between jobs and on a very limited budget. It is just that good.

Saracina takes part in, or hosts, special events almost monthly. For a list of the upcoming Saracina events, contact Cassandra at (707) 670-0199 or visit http://www.Saracina.com.


John Cesano thinks writing about himself in the third person is absurd. For more absurdity, visit his wine blog, JohnOnWine.com