Finding Campovida

A lot of us have had that fantasy of quitting our corporate jobs and buying a winery. Gary and Anna from Campovida Wines were just crazy enough to do it.

We first met the wine-loving power couple while hunting for the perfect Viognier. For our first white, we wanted a full-bodied, aromatic wine that was more “off-the-beaten-path” and less polarizing than your big, buttery chard (sorry, moms everywhere). Winemaker after winemaker pointed us to Mendocino — and more specifically to Campovida.

Driving up the 101, we were blown away by the beauty and witchy vibes of Hopland and Mendocino county. Old churches, wild vineyards, and a surplus of weed. This place had it all.

But it was walking onto the property for the first time when we really felt the magic. Turns out we weren’t the first to feel it either. Anna explained that this was once Pomo land; over 1000 Native Americans once called it home. Many believe it’s still inhabited by their spirits. And most people sense a vibrational energy walking through Campovida’s 50 acres of secret gardens, vineyards, and functioning farm, chickens and all.

The vineyards and gardens of the stunning Campovida Wines property.
The Campovida Wines property in Mendocino. Photo Credit: Luke Knezevic.

Gary & Anna’s Story

Gary and Anna were next-door neighbors in San Francisco but didn’t know each other. At 33, Anna had just ended a relationship and had sworn off men for good (been there).

The very next day she met Gary in the hall. Her exact words were, “Oh shit. I’m going to be in trouble.” After a year of friend-zoning him, they fell in crazy stupid love and got married.

By day, Anna is a leadership development coach and works with companies with “small but mighty ideas that bring good into the world.” She says she’s always been attracted to helping the underdogs, which probably explains why she was up for partnering with a young company like us.

Gary finds old forgotten properties and rehabs them. “He can find a parking lot and make it a possibility,” Anna says.

Together, they dreamed of one day owning a few acres in wine country where they could host events and where Anna could hold her corporate retreats.

When Gary came across the old Fetzer Valley Oaks property — a 50-acre, overgrown farm and vineyard that had been vacant for two years — he knew he had to show Anna.

He crossed his fingers and hoped she’d be down to upgrade her 5-acre dream by a factor of ten. At first she thought he was crazy, but as soon as she walked through the gardens she knew they had to give it a shot. It felt like the trees were whispering, ‘If you take care of us, we will take care of you.’

So they cashed in their savings and jumped in with no safety net. And they decided to have a couple of kids while they were at it. Because why not? True to their roots, they slowly started to rehab this overgrown property with the help of the community of Mendocino. For two days, the whole town came out to help them prune and tame the overgrown gardens and vines.

“the trees where whispering, ‘If you take care of us, we will take care of you.'”

From the very beginning, Anna and Gary lovingly revived the property with sustainability in mind. They constantly asked how they could reduce the carbon footprint and water usage of the property, replacing grass with walkways, bringing the historic barn from the 1890s back to life, and using more sustainable materials and practices.

Owners Anna and Gary at the Campovida Wines tasting room in Hopland, CA.
Anna and Gary at the Campovida Winery tasting room in Hopland, CA.

Making Damn Fine Wine

Just as they were getting their feet under them, Gary decided to take two tons of grapes from the property and make 120 cases of Viognier. For a little extra drama, he also decided to secretly submit the wine to the SF Chronicle.

Months later, when they won gold, they knew they were on to something. Says Anna, “I’ve never seen him happier.”

Now she calls the Viognier her spirit animal. Grown with organic grapes, it highlights their approach of terroir-driven, sustainable farming.

Today Campovida is known for finding the best organic and sustainably produced grapes across Mendocino and telling the story of Mendocino through their wines.

And we’ll just chime in on their Viognier — it’s our spirit animal too. Perfume on the nose and a party in the can, it has big floral and fruity aromas with flavors of apricots, honeysuckle, and citrus. It’s the kind of wine that pairs well with almost anything and will have you cracking open your second can in no time.