Summary: McDowell is located on one of the oldest vineyards in California with some of the oldest Syrah plants dating back to 1919. The McDowell family has two passions including growing wine grapes and raising horses. The tasting room is located on Highway 101 in Hopland, California.
The first generation of the McDowell family purchased the property in 1970. Bill and Vicky Crawford, the second generation, now own McDowell. Their children also help in the vineyard. Bill is the winemaker and vineyardist.
Located in the McDowell Valley AVA, the vineyards have some of the oldest Syrah and Grenache grapevines in the state dating from 1919. The head pruned vines continue to produce grapes. Vines on the 272 acres concentrate on Rhone varieties; other varietal grapes are also planted. Vines grown include Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Roussane, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. The deep fertile soils in the vineyards are suited for red grapes. Emphasis is placed on creating “America’s Best Syrah.” Bill continues to research the Syrah grapevines and the quality of fruit grown in the vineyards.
Most of the harvested grapes are sold to other wineries, however, McDowell also produces over 5000 cases of wine that showcase the vineyards. The Crawford’s first year of harvest was 1970. This year, 2010, will be their 41st grape harvest.
The McDowell Tasting Room & Mercantile is located in Hopland, California on Route 101. Enjoy tasting wines at the rustic type building that is reminiscent of an old mercantile building from the 1800s. In actuality the building is over 100 years old. The inside has a wood ceiling, beams and floor. A metal U-shaped tasting countertop provides plenty of room for guests to sample Syrah and other wines. Be sure to browse the items available including some unusual ceramic salt and pepper sets. Cookbooks are also on sale including Good Friends Great Tastes.
Back at the vineyard we tasted several wines.
Viognier Roussanne 2008 was a blend of 64 percent Viognier and 36 percent Roussanne. There were floral notes on the aroma with tropical and citrus nuances. The finish was crisp. William Roan Western White NV was a blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Sauvignon Blanc. This wine offered apple and citrus nuances with apple and pear notes on the taste. The finish was crisp and fruity with some tropical influences. Suggested pairings included grilled seafood or spicy food.
The Grenache Rosé 2009 wine was a dry rosé produced since 1982. This red/orange wine offers an aroma and taste of light red berries. The finish is crisp with hints of strawberries.
Grenache Noir 2006 was red with light red fruit nuances. The finish was fruity with light tannins. William Road Rodeo Red was a blend of Zinfandel and Syrah. The aroma was of spice and the taste of dark fruit. The crisp finish was fruity with mild tannins. Syrah 2006 was a dark purple with a light purple rim. The aroma and taste had notes of plums and spices. The finish was fruity with tannins. Coro 2006 was a complex blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Grenache Noir. The aroma and taste were of dark fruit with light tannins.
The McDowell family is a lover of horses. Awards that their sons have won in rodeos are proudly displayed. The McDowells own several well cared for horses. In addition they have a carriage. We were fortunate to be invited for a ride in the carriage pulled by one of the horses. The carriage was pulled along through the vineyards. The ride was remarkably smooth and the pace was perfect for enjoying the views of the vines and surrounding hills. The sunny day with grape leaves bursting forth provided a delightful experience.
As you travel through Mendocino County along Highway101 and pass through Hopland be sure to look for the McDowell Wine & Mercantile building. Stop by and enjoy a wine tasting.
3811 Hwy 175
GPS: N38º 58.348’ W123º 03.207’
McDowell Tasting Room
McDowell Wine & Mercantile
13380 South Hwy 101
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