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. Riesling and Gewurztraminer 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 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 recently 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 (where you can also find Drew). 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
Breggo Cellars – Breggo means “sheep” in Boontling, a local folk language. Breggo Cellars was established in 2005, and then purchased by Cliff Lede in 2009. The friendly and casual tasting room also has a nice porch and picnic tables. Our favorites here are the Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and a Rosé made from Syrah. 11001 Highway 128, Philo 707-895-9589
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 (where you can also find Bink). Our favorites here are the Fog Eater, Gatekeeper, McDougall Ranch, Talfyn-Calder, Valenti, and Monument Tree Pinot Noirs. 9000 Highway 128, Philo 707-877-1771
Esterlina Vineyards – First, you need to make a reservation and then, you need to drive 2.2 miles up a road off of Highway 128 to get here but Esterlina is so worth the effort. In addition to an excellent tasting experience you will also find incredible views of Anderson Valley. Esterlina owns Everett Ridge in Dry Creek Valley, and they also own the only vineyard in the Cole Ranch AVA which is their source for five different wines. Be sure to try the Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Reserve Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Port. 1200 Holmes Ranch Road, Philo 707-895-2920 [reservation required]
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 who 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
Lula Cellars – In 2008, Jeff Hansen released his first vintage of Pinot Noir at Lula, named after his grandmother. Formerly at The Madrones, they are about to open a new tasting salon any day now so give them a quick call to see if it is open yet. These handcrafted, limited production wines are only sold directly to customers. Our favorites here are the Gewurtztraminer, Rosato, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel. 3101 Highway 128, Philo 707-895-3737
Navarro Vineyards – Navarro 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 Winery – Trained 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. In June 2013, the tasting room is moving to the former Standish property. We like the Chardonnay and the Gewurztraminer wines here, as well as the Toulouse Vineyard, Wiley Vineyard, and Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noirs. We’re also big fans of Jackson, the Wine Dog and Manager. soon to be at 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 of sparkling wines in Anderson Valley, and we absolutely love the L’Ermitage. 4501 Highway 128, Philo 707-895-2288
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
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
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.