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Thursday, February 26, 2015
TUSCANY JUST UP THE ROAD
Two Visits to the Terra Sávia Olive Oil Mill and Winery
“How did you find us?” The woman stepped from the shadows of the steel warehouse. I was dismounting and removing my yellow Scheuberth that had rendered a hotspot on my forehead. “How did you find us?”
I’d been exploring off-freeway lanes near my new Sonoma County digs and had taken a westerly turn onto Mountain House Road in Hopland. “The poppies.” I pointed to a small stand of bright orange blossoms swaying in a gentle springtime Mendocino County breeze. Seeds had been broadcast and taken root in the soil at the margin where the asphalt apron at Terra Sávia abuts the roadway. “I was thinking of getting a shot of my bike with the poppies in the foreground.”
“That’s a beautiful bike,” she said, eyeing my ’07 Breva.
I stepped into the warehouse rubbing that hotspot and hoping my eyes would readily adjust to the dimly lit interior. A few pallets of cased goods sat close by next to a table with a bit of clerical equipment, a collection of papers that reminded me of my home office organizational skills. A well used office chair was tucked up to the table’s edge. As my eyes made their way from daylight to warehouse light, a few more pallets came into view. To the left was a tasting bar.
“Like to try some olive oil? They’re all Italian varietals.”
“Just like the bike,” I said.
I hated to admit that I didn’t know procedure when it came to tasting olive oils. Beer? Yes. Wine? Of course. But olive oil? A one-ounce portion control pleated white paper cup was placed in front of me. A small amount of the fist sample was dribbled inside. The woman began to explain about citrus tones, nutty tones, where to taste and lingering qualities. Just like wine. With the second sample, we began to compare and contrast…
Terra Sávia is a wholly organic small operation specializing in estate grown wines – cabs, pinots, merlots and a nice Meritage (rhymes with “heritage”) and a non-oaked Chardonnay; Italian varietal olive oils from trees on the property and wildflower honey from their own stash of bees.
Striking is the olive press imported from the home country. The machine is active in October as Terra Sávia organics are first crushed daily, to be followed by the fruit of other local area growers.
Wandering through the facility, I see that local artisans display seating and tables, all far too large to be packed home on a motorcycle. Flat art graces the walls and a classic Porsche begs one to salivate.
Outside, a rustic cabin awaits those wishing to stay for an overnight experience.
I purchased a bottle of Tuscan oil and set to stowing it in the diminutive Joe Rocket seat pack.
“Do you need a bag?” the proprietress asked. “Is it padded enough? Moto Guzzi. Where did you say that bike comes from?”
“About two hundred miles north of the rootstock for your olive trees.”
And the conversation ensued. Guzzi and BMW tourers know the routine, as do many others, I’m sure…
I didn’t taste wine on my first visit because I don’t do alcohol – not even a sip – if I’m riding a bike that new, cost more than my first house. But I did return a few days later with family. I’d been charmed not only by the honest, small operation feel of Terra Sávia, but also by the woman who showed such great interest in the Guzzi.
She recognized me as the fellow from earlier in the week as she poured first the Chard, then the reds. More conversation. More of that honest, small operation, down-to-earth, workin’ the land goodness – characteristics missing, sometimes, in the fancy winery spreads further south in the Dry Creek, Sonoma and Napa Valley appellations.
Folks touring US 101 out of the Bay Area and north of Santa Rosa: this is a stop not to be missed. (Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.)
1) The Meritage goes nicely with a grilled peppered New York cooked medium rare. I drool as I type this.
2) I need to go back and get that picture of the Guzzi amid the poppies.
Resource: Information about this unique and interesting little place is found at: http://terrasavia.com/
Today’s Route: US 101 South from Eureka, Willets, Ukiah or North form San Francisco, Marin, Santa Rosa, Healdsburg to Hopland. West on Mountain House Road at the burger joint. Look for the Terra Sávia sign (and those poppies) on the right. Return? Continue on Mountain House Road through the rolling Coast Range Hills of interior Mendocino County intersecting CA 128 in about ten miles. East will return the rider to US 101 at Cloverdale; west will take the rider through Booneville, along the Navarro River and out to the coast and CA 1.
Church of the Open Road Press