What to do with $700,000 and some great wines

Mendocino County, that much more sparsely populated county north of Sonoma, must be America’s most underrated wine region. And now it appears that county’s vintners and growers want to do something about that with the creation of a state regulated agricultural commission to raise the funds to drive a new promotional effort.

As a whole, Mendocino County is amazingly diverse. The inland portions can be very warm. Highway 101 divides this inland region that is the home to Fetzer, Parducci, McDowell Valley, Lolonis and a number of smaller wineries. Yet Anderson Valley, the strikingly cool, Pinot gold mine is also part of Mendocino County.

I’ve always argued that the reason this entire region, and Anderson Valley in particular, isn’t better known and appreciated is because of proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area. Sonoma and Napa benefit from the fact that they are both no more than an hour’s drive from San Francisco and thus are the targets for most visitors who want to take a spin into wine country on their visit to the Bay Area. Mendocino and its Anderson Valley are a good 2 hours or more away from San Francisco. If it weren’t for the magnificent Mendocino coast, the Anderson Valley visits would be cut in half. You really have to want to see Anderson Valley and the Mendocino region to go there.

The new Mendocino Agricultural (marketing) commission hopes to raise around $700,000 through fees from wineries and grapegrowers.

$700,000 is a lot of money. What can the Mendocino growers and winemakers do with this treasure to bring more attention to their wines?

1. The rule is, if they don’t taste it, they don’t write about it. They should send a case of Mendo wines to 100 wine writers nationwide. (bloggers too????)

2. The beauty of the Mendocino area is stunning. They need to get writers up there where their senses can be completed seduced.

3. The Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival should be expanded into something much more important and substantial than it is now.

4. Significant efforts should be spend creating materials that explain the various Mendocino terroirs and their potential for grapegrowing.

5. They should not rest until every major wine publication and every newspaper that has a significant food section covers the wines of Mendocino.

6. They should hire Ronn Wiegand to develop an educational program directed at sommeliers and on premise wine buyers.

7. They need to take their wines on the road and do tastings in ten of the top 20 markets in America.

If they can establish this commission with significant support from growers and vintners, then a real opportunity presents itself. I hope they can.

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