Email Vesta
Blog Home Page

Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wild Hog Vineyard - Eco Friendly Winery, Delicious Wines

Perched high on a hillside between Cazadero and Fort Ross, is Wild Hog Vineyard. Daniel Schoenfield, the winemaker, (who is also owner alongside his wife Marion) sent a rather detailed 4 pages of directions to the winery with explicit instructions not to use any Mapquest or Google Maps to find him. He was quite correct, the trip is better made with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, through wilderness and along many dirt roads I never knew existed in Sonoma County. The scenery is spectacular, though the drive somewhat precarious. Daniel and Marion do welcome visitors by appointment, and their friendliness and generosity of time, as well as a diverse selection of wines are well worth a visit, though not in the winter months, nor as part of a day visiting other wineries (you’ll need one day just for them) - and make sure you have water and a spare tire; cell service is spotty at best.

I found myself making the trip to visit Wild Hog Vineyard some four years ago, when, after weekly requests from locals, I decided it was time I tried Wild Hog wines for myself. I always prefer to visit winemakers in their vineyards, as it is there that I find them to be more likely to impart their winemaking philosophy and processes in detail, surrounded by their art.

The Wild Hog 110-acre estate grows several varietals including pinot noir, zinfandel, syrah and petite sirah. Wild Hog estate vines are grown organically. The vines are dry farmed (no irrigation, except to start new young vines), no filtration is used, the winery and their home is powered by solar and hydro electricity. Daniel also purchases grapes from several other vineyards, including Saralee’s Vineyard and Porter Bass in the Russian River Valley appellation and from some nearby counties. Marion tends a 3-acre organic garden and fruit orchard on the estate to feed the family.

Wild Hog wines are distributed nationally, but it has been most important to Daniel for his wines to be available locally, and these he delivers himself to select retail stores and restaurants across Sonoma County (occasionally with a selection of some sumptuous fruits and vegetables from Marion’s garden…)

The Wines
From the current releases, I think the 2007 Wild Hog Saralee’s Pinot Noir is one of the finest (as are so many 2007 releases from Sonoma County), and is ready to enjoy now (ret $24-$27). It is the first vintage from Wild Hog’s Saralee’s pinot noir I’ve tasted that has both a balance of concentrated red fruit flavors and the black fruit flavors that are typical of past vintages. Wild Hog’s 2005 Nova Zinfandel from Mendocino County (ret $22-25) is the most popular Zinfandel in my store under $30 – great black fruit flavors of blueberry and blackberry, bordering on jammy. The Wild Hog Estate Pinot Noir 2006 is ready to drink now and needs no decanting. The first ridge pinot noirs typically have a mineral finish and more concentrated fruit flavors due to the cool climate, and this is a fine example. The Estate pinot noir has a great capacity for aging, properly cellared. Not available now, but Wild Hog’s Montepulciano is probably my favorite of all the other varietals Wild Hog produce. It’s a very limited production, watch out for it upon release.

Many Wild Hog wines are locals’ favorites, as I have discovered for good reason: the Schoenfields put their heart and soul into their winemaking, and put into practice the true meaning of living in harmony with the land. It yields results.

Old Grove Festival
On another note, Wild Hog Vineyard happens to be one of the many generous supporters of the Old Grove Festival (Friday, Saturday & Sunday, September 25-27, 2009 in Armstrong Redwoods). Several other Sonoma wineries are supporting this event, including (but not exclusively) Rosenblum Cellars, Deloach, Sbragria and Hartford – truly some spectacular wines that will be available by the glass at the festival and will help support the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods and all their incredible work in protecting and preserving our State Parks (

John Haggard is owner of Sophie’s Cellars, The Sonoma Wine & Cheese Market in Monte Rio, California. Sophie’s Cellars is open 11am – 7pm, closed only on Wednesdays.