Their wines are classically structured and made with ‘Old World’ European techniques, which results in distinguished, elegant, food-friendly wines.
Topel Winery was originally founded in 1993 by Mark and Donnis Topel, hands-on growers and winemakers who committed themselves to the preservation of 160 acres of pristine, sacred land in southern Mendocino County. The property, nestled on the east side of Duncan Peak, about 1,400 feet above the Sanel Valley floor, was an old sheep farm that the Topel family quickly discovered had great potential for grape growing, especially for the Bordeaux varieties. With only fifteen acres planted to wine grapes, they left the rest of the land to nature; oaks, manzanitas, coyotes, hawks and rattlesnakes add to its characteristic grandeur. When the Topels retired from the winery in 2018, Roger Peng took over the ownership and Martin Bernal-Hafner stepped in as winemaker, continuing the tradition of crafting elegantly complex and well-balanced wines from the Topel estate vineyard, as well as other unique sites.
Martin, a native of Colombia, was born with an innate passion for craft, agriculture and nature. After realizing a career in finance wasn’t for him, Martin traveled to the Rhone Valley for a winery apprenticeship at the iconic M. Chapoutier. It was there that Martin immersed himself in the art of terroir-driven winemking and he was convinced that this was his craft and lifelong journey. Martin next traveled to Mendoza where he joined the Vina Cobos team, working for world-renowned winemaker Paul Hobbs. He was enthralled by Paul’s knowledge and passion for viticulture and winemaking, and decided to follow Paul back to his flagship winery in Sebastopol, California. At Paul Hobbs Winery, Marting served various roles from cellar worker to head of the enology department.
At Topel Winery, Martin’s philosophy is born from respect for the land - allowing each site to speak for itself and taking a minimalist approach in the cellar, focusing on the vineyard. He currently works with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay - each distinctive and site-driven, capturing the essence of the terroir and the vintage. When asked what he loves about his winemaking region, Martin answers, “I think Mendocino is the next frontier. The rugged terrain makes for unique vineyard sites. A lot of pioneer winemakers are exploring what this AVA has to offer.”
Topel Winery does not have a Tasting Room, but Martin is available by appointment for private tours and barrel tastings at the Topel Winery facility in Mendocino. We are happy to share this producer with our Garagiste Wine Club members. Enjoy!