Tuesday morning began with a winemaker panel discussion at Fetzer Vineyards near the town of Hopland in Mendocino County, followed by a visit to this Pinot Noir vineyard in the Anderson Valley (in western Mendocino). The Anderson Valley is one of California's coolest growing areas thanks to the chilly maritime fogs that travel down the valley along the Navarro River. This AVA is known for still and sparkling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as aromatic Gewurztraminer and Riesling. The Pinot from this vineyard will go into one of Scharffenberger's Pacific Echo sparkling wines.
Bob Swain of Parducci, one of the winemakers accompanying us, shared a 1997 Parducci Grenache made from 40-year-old vines grown by the Testa family. Domaine St. Gregory winemaker Greg Graziano, whose grandfather first planted grapes in Mendocino in 1918, exemplifies the area's strong multigenerational grapegrowing tradition. He poured a 1997 Enotria Dolcetto, "little sweet one" in its native Italian, that loves the warm days and altitude of the hillsides of Ukiah Valley, a proposed AVA and Mendocino's largest growing area.
And John Buechenstein, winemaker at Fife Vineyards, pointed out the contrasts between old and new that characterize Mendocino County--from old head-trained vines to the latest complex trellissing systems, and from hand-gathering to "techno-shaking" mechanical harvesting. John also championed and poured the underappreciated Carignan variety known for its intense color, firm but not too rough tannins, and ability to express its terroir.
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