It’s not the most obvious combination: a Chilean making Italian varietal wine in a remote pocket of Mendocino County. But here he is, Sebastian Donoso, early Sunday morning supervising the pick of two tons of Negroamaro from Foxhill, a vineyard tucked into the hillsides south of Ukiah and east of Hopland.
Donoso will take his Negroamaro, a dark blue, thick-skinned grape that hails from the Puglia region in Southern Italy a few miles down a winding country road to Campovida, a spacious estate once owned by the Fetzers where he began making wine in 2012.
Campovida is sprawling and tranquil, giant teepees rise from a barren hillside, oak trees branch out against a clear blue sky. It’s no wonder a couple from Oakland came here and fell in love. In 2010, they purchased the property and last year opened a pizzeria in nearby Hopland — making it the second place to eat in town (the first being the greasy-spoon Bluebird Café) and putting the six-acre garden to good use. The pizzas at Piazza, prepared in a wood-burning oven, are credible, as is the selection of local beers.
The winery was the last piece of the puzzle to be put in place, but it is anything but an afterthought. Familiar with Mendocino County from his years as the assistant winemaker at Saracina, Donoso is working with single vineyards and crafting small-batch wines that are truly a “taste of place” as the Campovida tagline declares. He makes italian varieties, yes, but also a Chablis-inspired Chardonnay and a delicious rosé of Grenache. Taking advantage of his proximity to Anderson Valley, Donoso has a few barrels of the region’s coveted pinot noir — floral, earthy, herbal — which he plans to release next year.
Making the trip to Hopland is well worth the 100 mile drive if only to feel like you have really gotten away from it all. (Campovida has a small inn above the restaurant — but be sure to reserve in advance as it is only open sometimes.)
But to taste Donoso’s wine, you don’t have to go that far. Campovida has taken the trouble of bringing the wine to you, by opening a tasting room in Oakland.
Campovida, A Taste of Place
95 Linden St, Oakland, CA 94607