Ettore is a certified organic winery located in the California town of Hopland, in Mendocino County’s Sanel Valley.
It’s the southernmost town in Mendocino, located 500 to 600 feet above sea level. Located on the western benchlands of a small coastal valley, it gets the early sun, with the mountain range providing partial shade and cool breezes during the afternoon sun and heat.
The philosophy behind Ettore and its offerings is that by farming organically it is able to produce the purest most flavorful fruit.
Expressing the best of Mendocino’s complex terroir, Ettore wines channel the soul of their surroundings and are produced only from organic, hand-harvest and estate grown grapes.
Italian-born Ettore Biraghi is the winemaker. After beginning his career meticulously tending to vineyards and producing wine in Ticino, Switzerland, Biraghi developed his unconventional, maverick voice as an Italian and Swiss vigneron driven by innovation, thoughtful connection to nature, and a pursuit of exceptional quality — with a special affinity for soft, clear, and aromatically precise organic wines.
Meanwhile, the career of Agronomist Sofia Rivier spans from Argentina to Switzerland and currently Mendocino County, providing vital influence to Ettore’s offerings. Growing up in Mendoza, Argentina, into a family whose life revolved around wine making, Sofia’s love for the industry began to develop early and has flourished from there.
All of Ettore’s practices are approved by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), an it uses products only approved by the CCOF. Ettore also makes a point to respect the wildlife as there are 28 birdhouses in addition to various owl boxes around the vineyard.
Ettore released his first organic and terroir-driven range of Chardonnay and Merlot wines from Mendocino in 2019 and released them to American wine lovers for the first time a year later.
Here’s are responses that Sofia Rivier assembled to questions sent by PennLive:
Q, What makes Ettore special or unique?
A, Ettore is represented by a group of people that share a common passion, vision, and values: making wine and the ongoing research for quality. Our vision is to make an enjoyable product that brings people together while respecting the environment through organic farming.
Q, Is running an organic winery necessarily more difficult or just a mindset that becomes part of the fabric there? What parts in the process does it affect?
A, Difficult to say, since every winery is different and you can make a diversity of wine types. This brings different challenges, for example, making wines that are categorized as “organic” has a different procedure than a “wine made with “organic grapes.”
In our experience, the most challenging aspect in having an organic certification is that our options are limited during the winemaking process compared with conventional winemaking. These inputs should be organic, and the manufacturing must go through the certification process as well. Furthermore, any new input to be used should be approved by the certification, which can take several weeks. This process can be a burden when a last-minute input is needed to correct a given situation.
Another factor is cleanliness. In any winery cleanliness is a key factor, but it is especially important at an organic winery.
Q. Why? Why the push to maintain organic farming? Why is that so important?
A, For us organic farming is one way to accomplish our goal of making a quality product that respects health and the environment for our consumers to enjoy.
Q. What are you growing there … How old are the vines? Has the vineyard evolved at all in terms of the plantings?
A, We grow Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. We have different plots for each grape variety, between the ages of 9 to 31 years old.
Q. What are a couple of the wines that have become customer favorites? (see below)
A, Chardonnay Pure, Ettore Rosso, and the Cabernet Sauvignon Signature.
Q, What can I tell my readers about your wine club?
A, Please tell your readers to really consider joining our wine club and to, most importantly, enjoy our wines! Four options are given for our customers to fulfill all their wishes: a white collection for the white wine lovers, or Chardonnay lovers; a red collection, for red wine enthusiasts; and for customers that love both red and white wine, there’s a combination collection; and lastly, a customizable collection for our clients who want to customize their own order.
Q, And finally, I really like the label. What’s the history behind how that was created?
The labels had had a few changes over time. We were shy about them at first but are now confident and what they’ve evolved into. They are more appealing, define the brand better, and respond more to our love for contemporary art.