Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Hoopes Vineyard Tasting Kits with Bellwether Farms Cheeses and Kollar Chocolates

Over the last year, wineries have pivoted to offer virtual tastings to their customers. One winery that has done this is Hoopes Vineyard in Napa Valley. In addition to a lot of virtual programing, Hoopes Vineyard has partnered with other local businesses to create beautiful packages that will transport recipients to Napa Valley. My Hoopes Vineyard Tasting Kit included three small bottles of Hoopes wine, three cheeses from Bellwether Farms in Sonoma and Kollar Chocolates from Napa and is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

Hoopes Vineyard has a long history in Napa Valley. Spencer Hoopes started in farming and farm equipment 40 years ago. His daughter Lindsay was raised on the farm but felt life was too quiet in Napa. She spent eight years on the East Coast and when she came back home, her dad has transitioned to making wine. Lindsay decided she wanted to work with him but he reminded her that grape growers are farmers and she had never been keen to be a farmer. Lindsay worked in the marketing development program for E&J Gallo and eventually went to law school and worked as a homicide prosecutor under Kamala Harris. In 2012, Spencer got sick and Lindsay came home to work in the family business.

Now running Hoopes Vineyards, Lindsay is focused on sharing the story of the agricultural side of Napa, emphasizing the small family farms.  She loves when people would visit Hoopes and sit amongst the vines in order to re-envision Napa as an agriculture community. But, while people cannot travel, Lindsay has found creative ways to share her love for her community. She offers a Virtual Cooking Series in which she has partnered with chefs and offers a Virtual Cooking Class, Wine Trio, and Specialty Food Box. She also has tasting kits with full bottles of wine.

I received the Tasting Kit: Hoopes I Did It Again which included three wines in smaller format bottles (Genny’s Carneros Chardonnay, Sophie’s Block Syrah, Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon), three cheeses (Carmody, Pepeto, San Andreas) from Bellwether Farms, a family owned and operated farm located in Sonoma County, and an assortment of chocolates from Kollar Chocolates, an award-winning artisan chocolate shop in the heart of Yountville.

What was fun is that the pairings were not set. I was able to play with the wines and the cheeses and pick what I liked best.

I started by tasting each of the wines:

The Genny’s Chardonnay with notes of pineapple, lemon, and brioche is medium bodied with soft acidity and a long finish.

The Sophie’s Block Syrah has notes of black cherry, black raspberry, and coffee and is full bodied with lightly drying tannins.

The Oakville Caberbet Sauvignon has plum, blackberry, dark chocolate and coffee notes, as well as some herbal notes. On the palate the wine has drying tannins.

I then tasted each cheese:

Carmody – Made from pure Jersey cow milk, the cheese is smooth, mild and creamy.

San Andreas – A raw sheep milk cheese, it has a floral nose and is smooth with a chalky finish.

Pepato – This raw sheep milk cheese is the San Andreas with whole peppercorns added. The floral notes are more prominent and the peppercorn adds a little kick.

I played around tasting each cheese with each wine. My preferential pairings were the San Andreas with the Chardonnay (although the Carmody also worked). I loved the Carmody with both the Syrah and Cabernet. And the Pepato I liked with the Cabernet.

I am not a fan of pairing chocolate with wine so I enjoyed the chocolates on their own. It was hard to not eat them all in one sitting.