The story of wine. That’s the entire premise for why I founded Dallas Wine Chick. When I received an invitation to meet Lindsay Hoopes, a badge carrying San Francisco Assistant District Attorney who is in process of taking over her father’s wine company, I knew this was going to be one of my favorite stories.
Lindsay and I met at a Favorite Brands portfolio tasting where we tried the line-up of Hoopes Vineyards, Liparita Cellars and Hoopla wines.
The Hoopes Vineyard wines are very well made Cabernets from Oakville that have carried the same $60 price tag since 1999. Impressive and part of Owner Spencer Hoopes’ dedication to helping people appreciate the terrior and fruit of Napa at a value that is pretty impressive considering their blue-chip neighbors like Screaming Eagle and Caymus Special Select.
The Hoopes Vineyard Cabernet is the flagship wine for the family. I tried both the 2008 and 2009 and was blown away. They were very different – both with layers of flavor and depth. I tasted currant, dark chocolate, tobacco and cherry in the 2009 and more soft blue fruit in the 2008. They were both fantastic and a great deal at $60.
We then talked about Liparita Cellars, one of the oldest wineries in California dating back to the 1890’s that was wiped out during Prohibition. A wine from the Liparita vineyard was the very first wine to win a gold medal at the Paris World Fair in 1900 – long before the infamous Judgment of Paris. For the Hoopes family, this is a chance to get back to the roots “of being a Frontier wine maker” and the bottles sport the original wine label.
We tried the 2009 Liparita Oakville Cabernet ($60), which was full of juicy blue fruit, red cherry, Asian spice, toffee, vanilla and licorice. It was elegant and could be sipped today or cellared for greatness tomorrow.
Then I had a chance to try the 2010 Liparita Yountville Cabernet ($55). I tasted plum, black cherry, vanilla and spice. This is a deal for the price.
We moved to try Hoopla Wines, a project that Lindsay spearheaded to create wines that can be consumed immediately but have structure. We tried the 2012 Hoopla North Coast Chardonnay, which is done in an Old World style with pear, green apple, tropical fruits and nice minerality. At $12, it is priced to be your house white.
Like the Hoopes Cabernet, the 2010 Hoopla The Mutt ($28) features a dog on the label. Sadly, Dante, the family dog, celebrated his last vintage in 2009. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (80 percent), merlot (10 percent) and petite sirah (10 percent). This is the first vintage and the blend will change annually. It was a nice blend of fruit and spice.
You can tell that Spencer Hoopes has a farmer’s mentality in how he treats the grapes, how he maintains his quality and how he insists on maintaining his price point when he could make much more money on his wines.
But his daughter, Lindsay, also has a story to tell. From her first job on the distribution side of Gallo to being hired at Pottery Barn to source furniture due to her Mandarin language skills, she’s been driven. Even though she had two fabulous jobs, she knew since seeing a TV show when she was young, that she wanted to be an assistant district attorney. And she pursued that goal relentlessly – from the time when she found someone to take her to the district attorney’s office when she was in grade school to taking her LSAT to writing a letter to secure a job at the district’s attorney’s office.
And she still holds her badge. But sometimes life, a family illness and a desire to do your family proud becomes your destiny. If I were to guess, I’d say the Hoopes Family legacy is in very good hands.