Favorites in Anderson Valley

Anderson Valley

Anderson Valley, as seen from Esterlina Vineyards and Winery

Anderson Valley may be the best known wine-growing region in Mendocino County.  Located near the Pacific Coast, this 15 mile long valley has a wide diurnal range, in that the daily high and low temperatures can be up to 40 or 50 degrees apart.  The appellation also ranges in elevation from sea level up to 2500 feet.

The climate and geography here create an excellent growing region for Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, and the Anderson Valley is well known for using those varietals to make both still wines and sparkling wines.  Alsatian varietals such as Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer also grow well here.

Favorite Tasting Rooms in Anderson Valley

Balo Vineyards – Although the owners here started out selling their grapes to other wineries, they started to make wine under their own label in 2009, leveraging the talents of winemaker Jason Drew.  The tasting room is dog-friendly, with an enclosed, shaded, outdoor recreational area.   There are also two Bocce courts out front.   Our favorites here are the Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Blanc and the Estate Pinot Noir.  9001 Highway 128, Philo  707-895-3655

Baxter Winery – Winemakers by trade, Phil Baxter (Senior) and Phil Baxter (Junior) produce handcrafted single vineyard wines focusing on the Anderson Valley and surrounding Mendocino appellations.  While you used to have to drive to Elk for a tasting at the winery, Baxter opened a tasting room in downtown Philo making access to these great wines much easier.  We really like their Pinot Noirs, including each one from the Henneberg, Langley, Oppenlander, Run Dog, and Toulouse Vineyards.  We also recommend the Fashauer Vineyard Zinfandel.   8660 Highway 128, Philo  707-480-2507  

Bink Wines – A rarity, in that the winemaker and vineyard manager here are both women.  They like Syrah here, and the name “Bink” is a derivation of “black ink,” a description of Syrah.  Come here for a wide range of well made, hand-crafted artisan wines.  Although the vineyards are in the Yorkville Highlands, the tasting salon is at The Madrones in Philo We are impressed by their Old Chatham Road Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Rosé (of Merlot), Weir Pinot Noir, and a Melange comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.  9000 Highway 128, Philo  707-895-2940

Drew Family Wines – In 2004, Jason and Molly Drew purchased their property on a ridgetop overlooking Anderson Valley to the east and the Pacific Ocean 3 miles to the west.   Jason’s aim is to make beautiful examples of Pinot Noir and Syrah from sustainably farmed grapes which reflect the traditional nature of the varietals, the vineyard sites and the appellation.  You can taste their excellent wines at The Madrones in Philo.  Our favorites here are the Fog Eater, Gatekeeper, McDougall Ranch, Talfyn-Calder, Valenti, Weir and Monument Tree Pinot Noirs. We also like their Albariño and Valenti Syrah.  9000 Highway 128, Philo  707-877-1771

Foursight Wines – This small, family owned and operated winery was founded in 2006 by Bill and Nancy Charles, their daughter Kristy, and her husband Joseph Webb.  Joe used to also serve as winemaker for Londer Vineyards.  We are big fans of Foursight’s wines made from small lots of estate-grown fruit, including their Semillon, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, and “Zero New Oak” Pinot Noir.  14475 Highway 128, Boonville  707-895-2889

Goldeneye – Dan and Margaret Duckhorn created Goldeneye Winery in order to make a Pinot Noir of equal stature as their Merlot from their Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley.  The name “Goldeneye” is named after the Goldeneye duck which migrates across the region.  The winery grounds provide a lovely and serene setting for wine tasting.  Our favorites here are the Anderson Valley, Confluence, and Gowan Creek Pinot Noirs.  We also highly recommend the Migration Chardonnay.  9200 Highway 128, Philo  800-208-0438

Lazy Creek Vineyards – Home of the only underground wine cave in Anderson Valley, Lazy Creek displays the results of a year-and-a-half-long remodeling project under current owners Don and Rhonda Carano (of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery fame). This is one of the oldest wineries in the valley, now committed to crafting a small production (about 3000 cases per year) of acclaimed Pinot Noir.  In addition to their Estate Pinot Noir, we also recommend their Gewürztraminer and Rosé of Pinot Noir wines.  4741 Highway 128, Philo  707-895-3623 

Lichen Estate – From the original founders of Breggo Cellars (and using their old tasting room) this winery makes sparkling and still wines from their organic estate vineyard where they grow Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.  Our favorites here are a unique white wine called Les Pinots Noir and Gris (made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris) and their Estate Pinot Noir.  They have also started an interesting experiment, a solera-style Pinot Noir.  11001 Country Road 151, Boonville  707-895-7949

Lula Cellars  – In 2008, Jeff Hansen released his first vintage of Pinot Noir at Lula Cellars (named after his grandmother) and he brings nearly 30 years of grape growing and wine making experience to the table. Lula is now located in a new tasting salon at the far west end of Philo.   These handcrafted, limited production wines are only sold directly to customers.  Our favorites here are the Pinot Gris, Gewürtztraminer, Rosé, and their Pinot Noirs (including the Costa Vineyard and Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noirs).  2800 Guntley Road, Philo  707-895-3737

Navarro VineyardsNavarro has been growing grapes and making wines since 1974, and is one of the best-known and most popular wineries in Anderson Valley.  The majority of their wines are sold directly from the winery, and they do not charge for tastings.  We usually prefer the white wines here such as the Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Edelzwicker (a “noble mixture” of white Alsatian varietals).  5601 Highway 128, Philo 800-537-9463

Phillips Hill WineryTrained as an artist, Toby Hill is now owner and winemaker of this small winery.  His artistic sensibility is framed on “less is more” and his wines have evolved into a refined, earthy, and graceful old world style. We like the Chardonnay and the Gewurztraminer wines here, as well as the Toulouse Vineyard, Wiley Vineyard, Anderson Valley and Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noirs.  5101 Highway 128, Philo  707-895-9213 

Philo Ridge Vineyards – Fred Buonanno and Heather McKelvey make small handcrafted lots of eleven wines but with a total production of only 2500 cases per year.  The vineyards may be 5 miles up a dirt road, but you can find their tasting room in downtown Boonville right on Highway 128.  We like the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon here the most.  Philo Ridge is also part of the Coro Mendocino group, whose members create signature blends individually crafted by member wineries from Mendocino County grapes in accordance with strict bylaws.  14125 Highway 128, Boonville 707-895-3036

Roederer Estate Champagne Louis Roederer is a family-owned company with over 200 years of history of fine winemaking.  In 1988, Roederer Estate’s Anderson Valley Brut debuted, and the first vintage cuvee (L’Ermitage) debuted in 1993.  This is our favorite source for sparkling wines in Anderson Valley, and we absolutely love the L’Ermitage.   4501 Highway 128, Philo   707-895-2288

Seebass Vineyards – This Ukiah-based winery headed by spouses Michelle and Scott Willoughby has opened a public tasting room in downtown Boonville.  Seebass produces two different Chardonnays we adore (Family Chardonnay and Grand Reserve Chardonnay) made by different winemakers in different styles.  In addition, we suggest you try their Rosé (of Grenache) and Merlot.  Ms. Willoughby also makes (and sells) Maple Spiced Pecans (with sea salt, crushed red pepper, chili powder, cayenne and chili paste) which are addictive.  14077 Highway 128, Boonville  707-895-9378

 

Favorite Food Stops in Anderson Valley

Boonville General Store – Friendly cafe in the heart of Boonville where close attention is paid to the quality of ingredients that go into their breakfast and lunch offerings.  Eat here, or take it to go, but be sure to check out the daily specials on the chalkboard before ordering.  17810 Farrer Lane, Boonville  707-895-9477

The Buckhorn Boonville – A “fine grub pub” in Boonville where you can find steaks, burgers, pizza, and pasta.  For drinks,  you have your choice between over 40 local wines or 14 beers on tap.  This is also a good choice if you are looking for brunch on the weekend.  The Buckhorn has a comfortable, warm atmosphere filled with both locals and tourists.   14081 Highway 128, Boonville  707-895-3224

Paysanne – A good place for a pick-me-up, this bakery/ice cream parlor/café in central Boonville offers high-quality choices such as Black Oak Coffee, The Jasmine Pearl tea, Three Twins ice cream, and locally baked goods. Or, you can combine options for an awesome Affogato.   The staff is charming and gracious.  14111 Highway 128, Boonville  707-895-2210

Philo Apple Farm – There’s a farmstand here with delicious products made from certified organically grown apples and pears, including jams, chutneys, vinegars, and apple cider syrup.  Our favorites here are the fresh apple juice and apple balsamic vinegar.  Adding to the quaintness is the cashbox honor system to make your purchases (so bring cash).   18501 Greenwood Road, Philo  707-895-2333

Stone and Embers – This casual but refined restaurant focuses on fresh and delicious food from a wood-fired oven and is located within The Madrones in Philo. There are five different pizzas to choose from, but the collective maximum they can make per day is only 60 so you may want to come early.  The salads are fresh and tasty, and they also bake levain bread daily in their oven which can be purchased as a whole loaf while supplies last.   9000 Highway 128, Philo  707-895-3471

 

Other Helpful Links

Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association – Not-for-profit trade group created to promote the grapes and wines of the Anderson Valley winegrowing appellation, which also organizes two festivals each year – an Alsace Festival and a Pinot Noir Festival

Coro Mendocino – A class of ultra-premium wines made entirely in Mendocino County and exclusively from Mendocino County fruit, designed to showcase the rich heritage and unique characteristics of Mendocino County

Mendocino WineGrowers, Inc. – An alliance of grape growers and vintners working together to promote the grapes and wines from Mendocino County.

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