My neighbor asked us where we were off to and I said “Hopland.” The dumbfounded look on her face said it all. She had never heard of the town of Hopland. I told her that we were going there to play Bocce, taste wine, and stay in an old hotel that once was a brothel and perhaps is haunted. The dumbfounded look deepened and she walked back into her house and said “Have a good time.” Yes, It was a little strange that we were off to Hopland when we could have just as easily been going to the Napa Valley, Healdsburg, or Sonoma.
The main reason we decided on Hopland was to stage our Bocce tournament at the best tasting-room Bocce courts in the world at the Brutocao Schoolhouse Plaza. Here Brutocao maintains six professional Bocce Courts. We need at least four courts to stage our WCG tournament. We have 8 to 10 teams that vie each year in this invitation-only (our friends) tournament. The other good reason to go here is to visit a few of the 22 wineries and tasting rooms that surround the town of Hopland. This is Mendocino wine country and more specifically, Senal Valley, Potter Valley, and Redwood Valley wine regions.
Our Bocce tournament hit a major roadblock when it began to rain on Wednesday. Can you believe rain for the fourth time in May? The courts at Brutocao are used for a huge Bocce community competition on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Teams come from all over Mendocino County to partake in this very spirited competition. Apparently, everything needs to be perfect for this event and, because of the Wednesday rain, we were not allowed to use the pristine courts during the day on Thursday for our tournament. We were told that the courts needed to dry completely before being used. What a blow! Anyway, we pulled off the tournament by using a flat grassy area where Brutocao hosts weddings. It was not ideal but it was still plenty of fun. By the afternoon, the Brutocao folks let us use one of the Bocce courts to host our playoff rounds.
The main attraction for the 22 wineries in the Hopland area is that they are small, family-owned wineries that make some interesting wines. Many of these wineries and growers were at the forefront of the “green” movement and had been farming organically long before it became the thing to do. We think the biggest draw for these wineries is their value. The majority of their wines are priced under $20 and they are good. Try the wines at Guinness McFadden, Graziano, Terra Savia, Saracina, Jeriko Estates and others.
It is going to be a constant struggle for the wineries of Hopland to survive unless the town provides a few good places to stay and eat. We had high hopes this year that the new owners who had purchased the Hopland Inn a year ago would turn the hotel into a happening place with a great restaurant, bar and other amenities. But this was not to be and we will tell you more about the Hopland Inn in our next post. Ukiah is 15 minutes north of Hopland and this city is the best option for lodging and restaurants although not really in what would be considered an upscale category. Geyserville and Healdsburg are about 30 minutes south, but if you stay in these towns you might as well just hang out there. We think it is worth at least one trip to Hopland to investigate these small Mendocino County wineries. The wines are delicious and most of these wines are only sold locally. You won’t get to know these wines unless you venture up to the Hopland area for at least a two-day visit.