San Francisco turns out for a Taste of Mendocino


It was a capacity crowd in San Francisco for a Taste of Mendocino at Fort Mason Saturday June 25th.  Over 300 people, a mix of trade, media and consumer guests filled the beautiful Gallery 308 venue within minutes of the doors opening at 1pm. “What a great chance for Mendocino county wineries to shine in the city. It was an amazing turnout with both trade and consumer guest attendance” said Kerry Finnie, Marketing Manager for Goldeneye Winery.

“Generally, at tasting events, the event has its ebbs and flows allowing the participants to grab a glass and taste around the room. Not at the Taste of Mendocino! We started pouring at 1pm and had a crowd around our table until 5pm, we were not able to taste a single wine!” stated participant Steve Alden of Murder Ridge Winery.

Consumers clearly loved the experience with 26 Mendocino wineries pouring outstanding small production wines, and a sampling of Mendocino’s local food producers serving up delicious bites.  Drawings for multiple raffle items throughout the afternoon added an element of excitement to the event. 

Kris and Jim Woodward of San Carlos were thrilled to win a two-night stay at the lovely Little River Inn. A highlight of the event was the drawing for two round trip tickets on Surf Air, the nation's first all-you-can-fly travel club offering flight service between 12 California cities and counting.  Ecstatic winners Randy Borcherding and Beverly Riehn were speechless when Jori Johns of Surf Air presented them with the certificate entitling them to fly round trip to any of Surf Air’s destinations such as Las Vegas, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs.

A great feature of the venue, Fort Mason, is the ability for wineries and specialty food producers to sell directly to the consumers at the event.  Stella Cadente sold out of their Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a Best In Class Gold winner in the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition.  Philo Ridge, Theopolis Vineyards, Murder Ridge, Maple Creek and many other wineries were pleased to sell out of all of the wine they brought to the event.

What is a great wine event without fabulous food?  Boring! This wasn’t a problem at Taste of Mendocino with gourmet offerings from chefs and food producers alike.  The crowd favorite was Chef Richard Whipple of Heritage House as he expertly prepared and served up fresh pasta with exotic mushrooms in a Parmigiano-Reggiano, Seebass Family Wines Chardonnay Cream Sauce, Drizzled with Truffle Oil.  Heritage House, a historic jewel resort and spa on the Mendocino Coast, has recently gone through an extensive renovation.  Chef Richard Whipple joined the property early in 2016, with 30 years of experience preparing fine food in wine country restaurants. You can bet that many of the attendees at Taste of Mendocino will be heading up the coast to sample more of Richard’s culinary creations!

 Wine wasn’t the only beverage served at Taste of Mendocino, attendees were able to sample Gowan’s Hard Apple Ciders and Thanksgiving Coffee.  Sharon Gowan, whose family is celebrating 140 years of growing produce in the Anderson Valley, had this to say about her experience “Taste of Mendocino was a successful event for us! We not only connected with a number of wholesale accounts interested in carrying our heirloom ciders, as well as interested new club members and guest buyers. Plus, we connected with a number of media interested in doing stories!”.

Red wine and…CHOCOLATE!  Starchild Chocolates from Willits gave wine lovers a unique and interesting education about the similarities between wine and chocolate. Here is what Ash Maki of Starchild Chocolate had to say of his experience: “We had a great time in San Francisco. It’s very cool how similar the making and tasting of wine really is to that of chocolate. Our cacao bean has a massive array of different flavor profiles from bean to bean and region to region. It keeps our job very exciting. We brought a variety of chocolate with us serving samples of six different origins, three of which have recently received metals at the world’s top chocolate competitions. We make all of our chocolate from the bean and keep our bars at a 70% cacao content so that people can taste the vast difference between regions and varieties - much like wine. Working at the shop with beans from over 25 different countries we selected some of our favorites to bring only six. We sampled chocolate grown in Ecuador, Tanzania, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Bolivia and Nicaragua.”

Wineries large and small had positive things to say about their experience. “Taste of Mendocino was a great opportunity for a relative new winery like Theopolis Vineyards.  We were able to get our wines before wine lovers and people in the wine trade.   We were able to not only sell our wines on the premises, but made critical connections with wine bloggers, food vendors and wine critics.   To boot, a great time was had by all” said happy vintner Theodora Lee.

Scott Willoughby, President of Mendocino Winegrowers, and part of the family of Seebass Family Wines, said “The event was the most successful in terms of attendance that I’ve seen in four years. We enjoyed seeing some of our wine club members, meeting new enthusiasts, and chatting with several writers and distributors. All in all, the Mendocino wine and craft foods community put its best foot forward, and San Francisco responded enthusiastically.”

Taste of Mendocino was hosted by Mendocino WineGrowers Inc. and Visit Mendocino, and our generous sponsors American Ag Credit and Savings Bank of Mendocino.