John On Wine – State of the Disunion

This piece was originally published in the Ukiah Daily Journal newspaper on Thursday, September 3, 2015

With roughly three quarters of all the grapes grown in Mendocino County bought and used to make wine by Napa and Sonoma County wineries, why is it so hard to bring greater awareness of the quality of our wines to the greater wine drinking public?

The Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival is outstanding, and features what many consider to be the county’s most focused appellation and their best wines. In 2014, the dinner held the night before the event was well attended by wine media; this year, I found myself alone with the gathered winery owners and winemakers.

Taste of Mendocino, an event held in San Francisco to introduce restaurant and wine shop trade, distributors, and wine media to the bounty of the county, our wines and food, saw underwhelming attendance this year.

Hopland Passport attendance numbers have dipped in recent years, although the best wineries continue to increase their sales numbers from the event.

Too often, I see money wasted on marketers who promise the moon but can’t deliver the basics.

In Sonoma County, all of the wineries and vineyards belong to a single organization, are taxed and the resultant pool of money is used to increase the demand for Sonoma County wines and prices for their grapes. Two initiatives of note for the Sonoma County Vintners: conjunctive labelling and sustainable certification.

All wine produced in Sonoma County carries the name Sonoma County on the front label, with more precise geographic information allowed additionally, such as Dry Creek Valley or Murphy Ranch. County wide sustainable certification, even when it is a farcical sham, with (allegedly) cancer causing Monsanto Round Up, and even more egregiously toxic chlorpyrifos grown fruit receiving such certification, will allow greater market penetration for Sonoma County’s wines in health conscious outlets such as Whole Foods.

Lodi was once a name that winemakers would not put on a wine label, choosing California instead, as the general impression of Lodi grapes and the wines they produced was not favorable. Again, Lodi’s vineyards self-taxed and over the last twenty four years, the Lodi Winegrape Commission has done a great job, working with grape growers to improve viticulture, and wineries to make better wines. Lodi has a sustainability program that is not a sham, and worked with their growers to certify. Public relations and marketing efforts, constant and thoughtful, have led to increased grape prices and an acceptance of Lodi as a respected area for wine production.

Mendocino County once had a similar organization, the Mendocino Wine and Winegrape Commission (MWWC), but no longer. The group started poorly, with a scoundrel for a director embezzling funds from the group, and another directing business to their own company. It took a while, but eventually the group hired Megan Metz who did a good job promoting Mendocino County’s wines, but it was too little too late for the county’s vineyard owners and they voted MWWC out of existence after only five total years, and just two functional years, in operation, in a fit of myopic selfishness, over unrealized unrealistic expectations.

Megan Metz now heads up the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association and is bringing a ton of the bay area’s consumers and trade to taste wines at the area’s wineries and events.

Lodi didn’t turn around their wine reputation or increase wine grape prices in two, or even five, years, but closer to twenty.

Our county is incredibly shortsighted and, worse, it is fractured. The Mendocino County wine scene isn’t just Hwy 128 vs. Hwy 101, but in each area there is division, with Yorkville cut off from Anderson Valley and Ukiah cut off from Hopland. Within the Anderson Valley, there is the Philo clique, and for Hopland there is the downtown crew. Meetings of each area’s local tourism group are often contentious.

Many wineries will not send wines for review or enter competitions, because of cheapness, and then complain that the county does not receive wine media coverage.

Out of the ashes of MWWC, the much smaller Mendocino Winegrowers, Inc. (MWI) was born, a voluntary dues paying collective of wineries and growers. Every winery and every vineyard should be paying members. If you own a winery or vineyard, and want to join and help increase the profile of our wines and prices for our grapes, visit MendoWine.com and then give Aubrey Rawlins a call at (707) 901-7629.


Here are some more recommendations to improve the county’s reputation for wine and prices for grapes: Anderson Valley wines, along with all other wines made in county from our grapes, should have Mendocino County included on the label. Every winery should submit all of their wines to all major publications for review, and enter all of their wines in at least four major wine competitions each year. Every winery should be involved in public relations, marketing, and communications for each event they participate in. Best practice marketing should be introduced.

Bringing people to taste and buy our wines, wines labelled Mendocino County, and creating a genuine, not sham, county wide sustainability program, will increase demand, bring media attention, and yield higher prices for our grapes.

With a more robust MWI, events like Taste of Mendocino can be brought home and marketed to consumers, with invitations going out four months in advance, with follow ups three months, two months, one month, two weeks, one week, and two days out; and the marketing materials should be provided to each participating winery or food vendor, to send out the invitations to each of their email lists. Taste of Mendocino could be, should be, as successful as Winesong, but it would take increased participation from all of our wineries.

I would love to see wine writers asking us to come taste our wines, because of the disproportionate number of awards taken by Mendocino County wines in competition and staggering number of 90+ rated wines in review, because we created must-attend events through planning and cooperative marketing following best practices, because over and over wine labels carry Mendocino County’s name, because we defended and enhanced our claim of being “America’s greenest grape growers”, because we grew up and behaved like adults for the betterment of all instead of like petulant selfish children with no thought or plan for the future.

Until we start acting responsibly, in larger numbers, in a cooperative participatory manner, Napa and Sonoma County wineries will be happy to continue to buy our grapes on the cheap, and wine writers will continue to dismiss us as the county that couldn’t get along.

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.

Today was a freaky good day at work in the McFadden tasting room, and then at home. Busy as hell, but spread out perfectly, allowing me to keep up on hand washing and buffing wine glasses. Two wine club sign ups. A friend of Guinness, my boss, will likely be making Coro release party dinner reservations for himself and his wife. Lots of wine and meat sold in advance of the Memorial Day weekend.

All that’s just good.

Freaky good is a 14.29% pay raise. Freaky good is getting another six-month marketing job. Freaky good is getting an expense paid invite to fly to Hawaii and stay at a resort for six days with three days of work to do. Like three bolts of lightning, all that happened. Today was freaky good.

As much as one wall in my house is screaming for a big screen TV, I think I’ll be putting the extra money toward a new-to-me used car with fewer miles and much better gas mileage. Heck, the money I save on gas might just pay for a big screen TV before too long.

I got a huge resupply of meat, wine, olive oil, herbs, wild rice and employee pay checks right at closing which kept me over an extra hour late making sure things got put away, but as I got the raise with the resupply, it was all good. That, and we really needed the resupply before tomorrow.

Tomorrow is going to be really busy with lots more people stopping in to get set with wine and food from our farm for the long weekend.

I went to dinner at Sho Ka Wah Casino in Hopland tonight. Sho Ka Wah has partnered with several area lodging and winery tasting rooms to offer their guests greater value to their Player’s Club membership. We’ll soon be a featured winery at Sho Ka Wah, so I wanted to see what that actually meant.

First, the food was terrific. I had Prime Rib ($7.77 on Thursday for Player’s Club members, and the membership card is free). The meat was perfectly done, and I ordered mine with salad, baked potato, and grilled garlic green beans. I also had a $5 glass of Gold Medal winning Merlot made from Mendocino County grapes by my Hopland winery neighbor, and friends, at Weibel.

There were several tables enjoying wine with dinner, which was heartening to see.

The promotional efforts for a featured winery by Sho Ka Wah were impressive, with large signage, prominent placement on the wine list, and laminated full color table cards suggesting glasses or bottles of wines from the featured winery.

I’m working a wine event in San Francisco on June 11, Taste of Mendocino (#TOM12 for you twitterers).  Wineries, breweries, farmers, crafters, artists, and entertainers bring much of what makes Mendocino County amazing and presents it in the city for the trade, press, and general public to experience.

Taste of Mendocino leads to lots of great press, sales, and subsequent visits for the participants.

Last year Guinness poured at Taste of Mendocino with his daughter who lives in San Francisco, Anne-Fontaine. This year, something came up, so I’m doing the pouring.

Guinness told me today that he’ll be loaning me a farm vehicle to drive to San Francisco as my van has more miles than it takes to go to the moon and is missing on two of six cylinders, which results in a less than optimum ride and atrocious mileage.

Did I mention things are going freaky good today?

Tomorrow morning, I get cable TV installed at my new apartment. Tomorrow afternoon, I head into work before escaping with all three days of a three-day weekend off. Tomorrow evening, I have a good friend coming from Santa Rosa with a dresser and mirror for me and we’ll have wine and dinner in my new place.

I think my son intends to have a friend stay over tomorrow night, so dinner may be unfancy and easy: pizza, but good pizza. Pizza made better by wine for the adults and better by soda for the teens.


Wineries I have to mention soon because I forgot them in a recent post of some of my favorites: Testa Vineyards in Calpella, Sonoma-Cutrer in Santa Rosa (they say Windsor, but whatev), Topel with vineyard in Hopland and tasting room in Healdsburg, Toad Hollow in Healdsburg, and Keller Estates in Petaluma.

Also coming soon-ish will be actual wine reviews when I taste seven rosé wines in seven days. The lucky seven include

2010 Testa Vineyards Rosé of Carignane – Mendocino,

2010 Monte Volpe (Graziano) Sangiovese Rosato – Mendocino,

2009 Cesar Toxqui Cellars Rosé (of Zinfandel) – Mendocino,

2010 Muscardini Rosato di Sangiovese – Monte Rosso Vineyard,

2011 Toad Hollow Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir – Sonoma County,

2011 V. Sattui Winery North Coast Rosé, and

2010 Chimney Rock Rosé of Cabernet Franc – Stags Leap District Napa Valley.

3 purchased, 2 gifts, and 2 samples sent to me by folks hoping for a review. I also know that “lucky seven” wines was a bit of lazy writing, wines aren’t lucky, but I wanted to write lucky seven and fortune is smiling on me today, and will likely continue to do so, if for no other reason than I’ll be enjoying these wines very soon.


Get out of your house this three-day weekend and visit a winery tasting room near where you live. Find a wine you genuinely like and buy it. If you don’t find a wine you love, hurray, you’ve saved yourself from buying a bottle untasted at Costco that you wouldn’t have loved.  If the person pouring wines for you educates and entertains, if they do a really good job, throw them a tip. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it.

Oh, and just because you didn’t like Chardonnay, don’t assume they are all the same – they aren’t. Try every wine you can. If you like it, great. If you love it, better, buy it. If you don’t love it, pour the remainder in the bucket provided. No one likes everything, but you should at least try wines being offered. Today, I poured Riesling for someone who “hates” Riesling and of course they bought two bottles of it. Why? Because not all Rieslings are the same. Oh, and because today was a freaky good day.

Every wine region that wants to successfully compete for the public’s attention and good prices for grapes and wines has an organization tasked with promoting the quality of the grapes grown and the wines made in their area.

Lodi uses the Lodi Winegrape Commision to do effective work convincing buyers that their central valley grapes are being grown in a green fashion. Sonoma County is represented by Sonoma County Vintners and the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission (these two share the same physical address). Napa has the Napa Valley Vintners Association. Paso Robles has the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.

As a peripheral member of the local wine industry, I am thankful that Mendocino County has the current incarnation of the Mendocino Winegrape & Wine Commission (MWWC).

MWWC represents 343 winegrape growers and 91 wineries in Mendocino County.

Megan Metz is MWWC’s Executive Director, having been promoted to the position in October, 2011 after a successful turn as MWWC’s Director of Marketing and Communications beginning February of 2011.

Megan and her incredible staff including Gracia, Courtney, and Jen, assisted by Josh and Jan, help Mendocino County’s winegrape growers through an ongoing series of viticulture educational forums aimed at helping growers increase the quality and value of their grapes, by acting as co-hosts of  eco-wine symposiums, and working with growers to contain and eradicate the European Grapevine Moth (EGVM) in the county.

MWWC is instrumental in collecting and making available information vital to the county’s winegrape growers like the recent water updates concerning Russian River frost regulations.

Hosting an online grape marketplace, MWWC helps our winegrape growers sell their fruit and, through focused marketing events that focus on the county’s vineyards and growing areas, MWWC works to maintain the price that Mendocino County fruit commands in hard times and help that fruit increase in price in good times.

I know Megan and her crew at MWWC professionally through my dual roles as tasting room manager for McFadden Vineyard and Secretary of the Board of Destination Hopland.

At last year’s incredibly successful Taste of Mendocino event in San Francisco, MWWC brought Mendocino County’s bounty to San Francisco and played host first to trade and media and then the general public for tastings that saw winery tasting rooms grouped by the AVA, growing area, their wines predominately came from.

My boss, Guinness McFadden, was proud to pour his wines ordinarily tasted in our Hopland tasting room under a banner for Potter Valley. As the first grower to plant grapes in Potter Valley, growing organically from day one, that Potter Valley sign flying in San Francisco was enormously important to Guinness.

Social media savvy, MWWC had trade and media guests tweeting using the #TOM12 hashtag. From my tasting room over 100 miles away, I was able to steer attendees directly to Guinness using those same tools.

Destination Hopland is charged with hosting two major events each year, a Spring and a Fall passport event for our area’s 16 member wineries, our Hopland Passport. We are fortunate that under Megan, MWWC partners directly with Mendocino County’s various wine region organizations. In addition to Destination Hopland, MWWC also directly helps A Taste of Redwood Valley, Yorkville Highlands Growers & Vintners Association, and the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association.

MWWC has helped Destination Hopland improve our website, making Jen available to provide the text on each page. MWWC has also helped with advertising and marketing, aiding with ad placement in upscale glossy publications, while tasking Jan with disseminating effective press releases to help Hopland achieve the media notice we wish to gain for our local winery members.

Megan also stepped in to host a winemaker dinner for visiting press members to Hopland Passport last year, leading directly to beneficial media attention.

Last November, at the Mendocino County Wine & Mushroom Fest event Wine and Mushroom Train that MWWC and Visit Mendocino jointly hosted at Camp Mendocino, Megan appeared at my side as I poured wines for an exuberant crowd. Megan calmly told me that she needed my help, that a speaker came down ill, and that I would need to give a talk to assembled media including writers from Sunset Magazine, Edible Marin & Wine Country, O – The Oprah Magazine, Taste of Home, Vegetarian Times, Popular Plates, Intermezzo, Newsweek, and Cooking Light.

Megan made clear that as an emergency guest speaker, I wasn’t to be wearing my McFadden hat, or my Hopland hat, but that she wanted me to speak about all of Mendocino County’s wines, focusing as much as possible on the different growing regions throughout the county.

Megan and MWWC saw that every wine growing region in Mendocino County enjoyed press attention from the gathered media, that the focus was on the winegrape growers as much as it was on the wines of the county.

I started at McFadden in March last year, and joined the Destination Hopland Board in July last year. For me, Megan and her crew are the only MWWC I have ever known.

MWWC became effective in 2006, and late in 2011 the California Department of Food & Agriculture announced a February 1, 2012 hearing in Ukiah to consider the continuation or suspension of MWWC.

I attended the hearing and spoke in support of MWWC, of Megan, and of the incredibly effective crew that has been assembled to help market the winegrapes and wines of Mendocino County.

Let me be blunt, not only is MWWC doing a great job but with even the central valley wine organizations engaging in what appears to be a bit of greenwashing, without MWWC the other wine areas are poised to eat Mendocino County’s lunch.

I was surprised to find semi organized opposition by some growers at the meeting, with a saddening lack of civility, cogency, or willingness to acknowledge any of the positive works MWWC has accomplished for growers and wineries under Megan. Some of the speakers were unpleasantly ugly, repeatedly interrupting testimony in support of MWWC’s continuance and spewing vitriolic comments tinged with a paranoiac worldview that I don’t share.

I am grateful to one grower who would not want to be identified, who I know to be intelligent through our shared involvement in Hopland wine industry events, who explained that the opposition by some growers stems from the notion that MWWC was forced into existence at the insistence of a major buyer of fruit within the county, under threat of blackballing the county’s growers if MWWC was not voted for back in 2006. My serious thanks to you for sharing your passionately held view, you provide a much needed perspective lacking in the presentations made during the hearing.

MWWC during the first four years of existence, prior to Megan and her crew taking charge, is not the Commission I know, it was explained to me. Malfeasance bordering on criminal and ineptitude bordering on tragic were common, I was told.

I came to understand some of the opposition to the continuance of MWWC, but I think that such a stance is both myopic and irresponsible.

Getting rid of MWWC just as it is well formed and ready to build on the last year’s marketing successes seems nearly stupid, akin to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. Myopic, because growers can expect to see their grapes valued less, and prices remain flat or decrease, if their opposition is the majority view, as other areas continue to successfully market their grapes to buyers through their commissions, organizations, alliances, and associations. In the ‘bad’ past, MWWC’s director and staff operated under the guidance of a board made up of member growers. If malfeasance and ineptitude were the order of the day, then it seems to me that those board members – and those Commission members who didn’t bother to join the board or a committee – are the people ultimately responsible for the first four years of Commission failure. Every person who spoke against MWWC’s continuance spoke of the past; not one spoke of the present.

I’m the new guy. I don’t see the past. I don’t know the politics. I judge things on their face. MWWC under Megan Metz and the crew she has assembled are doing a fantastic job, and they want to improve their efforts on behalf of Mendocino County’s winegrape growers and wineries.

I respect a difference of opinion, and am able to place disagreement in context thanks to the perspective shared by others who have been active locally in this industry for decades. I know that the opposition by growers is not monolithic, and the vote will be close. I also find that those who spoke in support of MWWC’s continuance spoke intelligently, citing specific events and results, mostly from prepared statements, while opposition was offered in incoherent and angry rants. I am heartened that most growers I know are not like the speakers I described, but instead are intelligent, thoughtful, friendly, and open to fair consideration of a reasonable proposition. I believe that this is true of most of Mendocino County’s growers.

I’m a tasting room manager, not a vineyard or winery owner, so I don’t have a vote, but I urge the voting Commission members to return a favorable vote when a referendum is called. According to MWWC’s twitter page, “MWWC renewal ballots to be sent out within 60 days from 2/23”

Tomorrow morning I’m driving to Sonoma County to taste wines during the day, warming up for Saturday night’s big wine tasting event in the Russian River Valley. Saturday, June 4, from 6:30 to 10:00pm at Thomas George Estate, I’ll be tasting some amazing wines. mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, during the Single Vineyard Night event. Wine, food, auction, dancing. Tickets are $45 online, and a bargain considering the line up of Russian River Valley Wine Growers wines being poured.

Single Vineyard Night, June 4

Next Saturday, June 11, I’ll be driving back to Sonoma County, to taste more wines at the Vinify Winery Collective Tasting in Santa Rosa from 1:00 to 4:30pm. Vinify is a custom crush facility, however their clients are not vain amateurs with grand illusions, but top notch professional winemakers taking advantage of a top notch state of the art facility to make great wines. This tasting, with tickets available for just $25 online, offers these wineries a showcase, an opportunity to pour for new customers, and sell some cases. Wine, food, great stemware. Be there.

Vinify Winery Collective Tasting, Saturday, June 11

On Monday, June 13, many of my neighboring wineries from Mendocino County will be in San Francisco for Taste of Mendocino, a consumer tasting and buying opportunity at Fort Mason from 5:00 to 8:00pm. Mendocino County wineries are justly proud to grow an disproportionate amount of the organic grapes in California, in the United States. Without synthetic chemical fertilizers, poisonous insecticides, toxic pesticides, and bio genetic Frankenfruit, Mendocino County’s grapes make some of California’s best wines. The same grapes we turn into wine and sell in our tasting room ends up in more expensive Napaand Sonoma County wines.

For the most part, our wineries are smaller than the giants up north. Many of our wineries count production in hundreds or thousands of cases, grapes grown organically and handpicked, delicious reflections of the land, the winemakers desire, the growers commitment to perfection.

There is little opportunity for distribution when your winery is small, but once tasted your wines sell out, direct through tasting room or wine club sales.

Wineries wanting to grow a little larger need to sell more wine, and only so many people travel to Mendocino County for wine tasting. Taste of Mendocino allows the vintners of Mendocino County to bring their best wines to where the tasters and buyers are, in San Francisco.

Event guests will find that in addition to over 60 wineries, there will be Mendocino County food artists, crafters, and representatives of our attraction, lodging, and tourism industry. Taste of Mendocino is as close as someone can get to Mendocino County without a two hour (with no traffic) drive.

Tickets are just $35 online.

Taste of Mendocino, Monday, June 13

I don’t know what kept me to miss Pinot Days in San Francisco last year, but I was so thrilled to print my tickets for this year’s annual Pinot Days in San Francisco, also at Fort Mason, for Saturday, June 18, 2011. By far, the biggest Pinot Noir tasting event with over 200 producers pouring a tasty river of Pinot, several hundred different bottles possible to choose from during the Grand Tasting from 1:00 to 5:00pm, with tickets going for only $50 online.

Sadly, after printing my tickets, I was drafted to work a fundraiser for the Ukiah High School Freshman Basketball Program on the same day. I can only say honestly that I would rather be at Pinot Days than working a fundraiser, but my son is 6’2″ and will be a freshman at Ukiah High School next year, so I really have no choice. I love Pinot Noir, but I love my son even more. That said, if you love Pinot Noir and don’t know my son, this is the event to go to.

Pinot Days, Saturday, June 18

Okay, for the rest of this post, I’m taking off my wine guy hat and putting on my Dad hat.

Like to golf? Saturday, June 18, 2011 is the date of the 2nd Annual Ukiah High School Golf Tournament Fundraiser benefitting boys and girls basketball programs.

Due to the severe funding crisis at the state and school district, without community support, there would be no Freshman Basketball program for the young men and women athletes of Ukiah.

With an 8:00am shot gun start, the tournament is a 4 man scramble. Golfer’s donation is $100 per individual or $400 per team, and that covers green fees, cart rental, and tourney entry fees.

Want to help with a full Tee Sponsorship? $250 ensures your name is displayed on a custom made sign.$150 will get your name on a putting green sponsor sign.

We are also looking for raffle prizes, silent auction items, and gift certificates, no donation is too small or too large. Businesses and individuals made last year’s event a great success, and we would love to be able to continue the effort.

Want to write off your donation? use Ukiah High School’s Federal Tax ID number, 94-6002711. Checks made payable to UHS Golf Tourney Fundraiser (write “Basketball Programs” in the note section) can be mailed to: Jeff Mee, 2240 McClure Road, Ukiah, CA 95482

The Golf Tourney itself is a blast. Played at the Ukiah Golf Course, there are many games within the game, allowing you to donate money on most holes for a chance to improve your score. Lunch is provided at the park across the street after the golf where prizes, raffles, and the silent auction takes place.

Entry deadline for golfing is Monday, January 6. Call 707 272-0781, Jeff will be able to help you secure a spot.

Have a donation item? A gift certificate for a sandwich? A bottle of wine? A case of wine? Tickets for a future wine tasting event, even in 2012?  Anything will help, call me at 707 548-9237 and I’ll arrange to pick up your item or meet for delivery. Deadline for donation items is Wednesday, June 15.

Thank you for helping if you are able.

John Cesano

#42 Charlie Cesano, possible starting center, Ukiah High School freshman team, class of 2015. Will you help?

Ukiah High School Golf Tournament Fundraiser, Saturday, June 18