I’ve always thought of Hopland as sort of the “gateway” to Mendocino County wine country.
Which makes no sense whatsoever, when you think about it.
The town was named for its historic crop of great significance: hops… which are used in the making of beer, not wine.
And if you’re looking for a fabulous handcrafted beer on a hot summer day, Hopland definitely is the place to be.
But this town, north of Sonoma County, also is home to numerous wineries – fun places to stop on the way to Mendocino County’s wine capital, the Anderson Valley.
A great way to experience the wines of Hopland… if you don’t mind crowds… is to attend the annual Hopland Passport Weekend.
In 2010, those two days of debauchery… uh, wine educational opportunities… will take place over the weekend of May 1-2. I recommend attending on Saturday, when free shuttles will be running between the wineries. (Of course, there’s also a designated driver program offered.)
What can you expect to experience during the Passport Weekend?
Well, all of the wineries will be pouring their current releases. Some will pull corks on library wines. And some will offer barrel samples of upcoming vintages.
In most cases, the winemakers will be on hand to talk about their wares and answer questions – even dumb ones.
And along the way, you’ll be able to nosh on some tasty food, listen to some live music, and even play bocce.
It promises to be a lot of fun, and the cost is affordable – just $35 per person, which includes a souvenir wine glass.
Better still, the weather at that time of the year usually is picture-perfect in the Hopland area, as early May is several weeks ahead of the scorching summer months.
To learn more about the Hopland Passport Weekend, go online to hoplandpassport.com