When she started at UC Davis, Annette Hoff hoped to eventually land a veterinary job. But that was before making friends with some of the school’s viticulture students.
“They were having way more fun than I was,” she says. “It dawned on me wine was a possibility for a career.”
The Cima Collina winemaker now has 25 years of experience, beginning in Sonoma and Napa. She moved to Monterey County in 1998 and started her label six years later. Recently, Hoff opened a tasting room at her Marina winery (3344 Paul Davis Drive) – one that’s different than most, outfitted with community tables and couches.
Weekly: What is it about wine that keeps you interested?
Hoff: I feel privileged to witness the transformation of grape juice into wine. It’s a miraculous process. Grape juice is sticky, cloudy and kinda gross. You witness the acids and other components transform into a clear wine, almost as if a gem has been revealed.
People think of winemaking as glamorous. It’s the opposite. It’s dirty, it’s rough, it’s frustrating at times. I don’t sit around drinking wine and carousing with friends. We’re cleaning barrels, cleaning drains. There’s a lot of cleaning involved. But it’s balanced by passion. That’s what makes it great.
When you start out, are you worried about making mistakes?
Of course. It’s scary as heck. It’s a risky business. But that’s part of it – learning from mistakes.
What do you do when not making wine?
I’m an apprentice falconer. I have a red tailed hawk. That’s been a big adventure. I’ve always been interested in birds and I’m learning so much. My goal is to influence bird management at small vineyards. Falconry has been a fantastic way to manage birds. They don’t want to be around.