Written by Courtney Cochran
You may have heard about our county’s reputation for green (ahem, we mean green wines :)). You also may have heard about our passion for organics, biodynamics and conjuring great wines from some of the best, less-heard-of spots in California wine country. And while that’s all true, turns out there’s much, much more than all this to the Mendo story – and we can’t wait to head north with you to show you what makes Mendocino County California wine country’s best-kept secret.
What Do Carbon, Bourbon Barrels & Worms Have to Do with Our Wine?
Fetzer has been a sustainability pioneer for nearly 50 years, though what we’re doing lately really pushes the envelope. Come our pre-conference excursion, you’ll be able to see for yourself how we’re innovating wastewater treatment using billions of red worms to clean our winery water. But before you meet our bevy of hard-working worms, we’ll kick off the day at our certified Zero Waste, CarbonNeutral® winery in Hopland, CA with a vineyard toast and tasting to complement conversations in carbon farming. Expect spirited debate and conscientious conversation from some of Mendocino’s leading farmers helping to battle climate change, one application of nutrient-rich compost at a time (yes, many of these farmers make incredible wine – and beer – too!).
We’ll also meet with iconic Mendocino winemaker Bob Blue, who likes to share that his Bourbon barrel-aged 1000 Stories wines are in fact more throwback than new innovation, as they’re often touted. We’ll see how Bob – who’s been with Fetzer Vineyards since the 80s – crafts each small-lot release of the acclaimed California Zinfandel, and play winemaker for an afternoon by concocting our own blends for a healthy dose of creativity…and competition (did we mention there will be prizes?!).
Good Eats: Wednesday Night Treats
Wednesday night dinner will take place at Campovida, our gorgeous neighbor in Hopland. Previously home to the famous Fetzer Valley Oaks Food & Wine Center, Campovida today is a thriving organic-focused winery and one of the most spectacular special event locales in Mendocino. The meal will draw exclusively on local provisions to highlight the splendor of all that grows here. We promise personalities, passion, great pours and a preview of the fabulosity that’s to come in 2018 when Fetzer celebrates its 50th anniversary. Now doesn’t that sound like a deliciously engaging evening?
Biodynamic Beauty, Inland Mendo Splendor
Come Thursday, we’ll pair a delicious breakfast with an immersion in Biodynamic farming practices at the home of Bonterra Organic Vineyards, Wine Enthusiast’s 2016 American Winery of the Year. You’ll tour our Demeter-certified McNab Ranch Vineyard – stopping along the way for sips of Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc, natch – before alighting in our newly imagined Biodynamic garden. There, we’ll roll up sleeves to make our own Biodynamic vineyard preps (we’ll offer dirty and less-dirty options for those who may wish to embrace – or to avoid, as it were – working with cow manure ;)) before rewarding ourselves with a final engaging activity and farm-to-table box lunch.Adventurers in the group will relish the final item on our itinerary: a journey UP to the top of Biodynamic® Butler Ranch, a breathtaking mountain vineyard offering sweeping vistas of inland Mendocino wine country. There, we’ll convene a group of the area’s most talented winemakers for our anticipated “Inland Mendocino Odyssey” winemaking panel and tasting. While overlooking the valley below, you’ll hear from vintners whose desire to craft wines of character and distinction has brought them to the area – either recently, or in generations past. Variously focused on intriguing topics like organics and biodynamics, ancient vines (of which there are many in inland Mendo!), natural ferments, eclectic varieties and oddball vineyards, we’ll hear from the renegades, emerging virtuosos and stalwart talents who make the area really, truly one-of-a-kind.Detailed Itinerary:
Wednesday, November 8th
1:30 PM – Depart from Hyatt Vineyard Creek on Fetzer-Bonterra bus
2:30pm – Arrive at Fetzer Vineyards, Hopland, CA (Mendocino County)
2:45pm-4pm – Vineyard Toast, Conversations in Sustainability & Carbon Farming
4pm-5pm – 1000 Stories Blending Competition
5:30pm – Transfer to Campovida for reception, dinner
5:45pm-9pm – Fetzer 50th Kick-Off Reception, with Tasting of Campovida & Fetzer Wines
9-10pm – Return to Hyatt Vineyard Creek on Fetzer-Bonterra Bus
Thursday, November 9th
7:30am – Breakfast on the Fetzer-Bonterra Bus & transport to Bonterra’s McNab Ranch
8:30am – Biodynamic Vineyard Tour
9:30am – Sleeves Up Biodynamic Prep Workshop
10:15am – Wine Tasting @ Bonterra Barn
10:45am – Transfer to Biodynamic® Butler Ranch
11:00am – Inner Mendocino Winemaker Panel, Tasting & Box Lunch
12:30pm – Return to Hyatt Vineyard Creek on Fetzer-Bonterra Bus
Inland Mendocino Odyssey Panel – Confirmed Winemakers
- Jeff Cichocki & Sebastian Donoso, Bonterra Organic Vineyards
- Adam Johnson, Campovida
- Sam Bilbro, Idlewild Wines
- Matt Licklider, LIOCO
- Chris Nelson, Nelson Family Vineyards
- Kelly & Noah Dorrance, Reeve Wines
- Mike Lucia, Rootdown Wine Cellars
- Alex MacGregor, Trinafour Cellars
- William Allen, Two Shepherds
Join us. #MendoHeartsBloggers #WBC17
About Fetzer Vineyards
A pioneer in regenerative winemaking, Fetzer Vineyards continues its legacy of hard work, rebellious thinking and crafting wines that make a difference. Since its founding in 1968, Fetzer Vineyards has consistently developed and implemented practices that are environmentally friendly, socially responsible and ultimately regenerative, becoming the world’s largest winery to receive B Corporation certification, in 2015. B Corp certification standards, developed by the non-profit B Lab, are widely recognized as the highest standards for social and environmental responsibility in business. Fetzer Vineyards strives for the perfect relationship between land, climate and vine to regenerate communities and bring wines of remarkable quality and character to the table.
In addition to Fetzer wines, the company also crafts Anthony’s Hill, Bonterra, Jekel, Sanctuary and 1000 Stories, a Bourbon barrel-aged Zinfandel from California. www.fetzer.com