Planning Your Next Trip to Mendocino County

Taste of Mendocino

Well, did you go?  The Taste of Mendocino 2012 event was in San Francisco on June 11, and offered a rare opportunity to learn all at once about the best in food, lodging, activities and more in the nearly 4000 square miles of Mendocino County,

In case you missed it, we’re going to share some of our findings from Taste of Mendocino.  Hopefully, this can help you design something perfect for you, your friends, or your family when you visit Mendocino County.

Wines and Wineries in Mendocino County

Mendocino County has about 17,000 vineyard acres, and over 50 wineries were offering tastes at Taste of Mendocino.  We didn’t try every wine at every table, but these are the wines that were our favorites on June 11.  We’ve also included the location of their tasting rooms if you want to plan a wine tasting trip:

Baxter Winery (no tasting room currently) – 2009 Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2006 Caballo Blanco Carignan

Bink Wines  (Philo) – 2010 Pinot Gris, 2011 Rose (of Merlot)   

Drew Family Cellars

Drew Family Cellars

Drew Family Cellars (Philo) – 2010 Fog Eater Pinot Noir, 2010 Morning Dew Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2010 Talfryn & Calder Pinot Noir

Elke Vineyards (Boonville) – 2010 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2009 Donnelly Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir

Handley Cellars (Philo) – 2010 Pinot Gris, 2011 Gewürztraminer

Jeriko Estate (Hopland) – 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Lazy Creek Vineyards (Philo, but currently closed due to construction) – 2009 Estate Pinot Noir

Londer Vineyards (Boonville) – 2009 Dry Gewurztraminer, 2009 Paraboll Pinot Noir

McFadden Vineyard (Hopland) – 2009 Gewurztraminer

McNab Ridge Winery (Hopland) – 2011 French Colombard, 2009 Pinotage, 2009 “Largo” Cabernet Sauvignon

Patianna Organic Vineyards (at Sip! Menocino in Hopland)  – 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

Phillips Hill Estates Winery (Philo) – 2009 Wiley Vineyard Pinot Noir

Rack & Riddle (no tasting room currently) – nv Blanc de Noir

Rivino (Ukiah) – 2010 Sangiovese

Roederer Estate (Philo) – 2003 L’Ermitage

Trinafour Cellars (at Sip! Menocino in Hopland) – 2009 Carignane

Yorkville Cellars (Yorkville) – 2011 Rose de Franc, 2009 Cabernet Franc

Some of the wineries at Taste of Mendocino aren’t physically located in Mendocino County but make wines from grapes grown there.  We were also impressed with these wines:

Halcón Vineyards (no tasting room currently) – 2010 Esquisito (Mourvedre)

Harrington Wines (San Francisco) – 2009 Wiley Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2010 Wiley Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2010 Harrington Pinot Noir, 2010 Terrace Pinot Noir

Artisan Food Purveyors, Farms, and Farmers Markets in Mendocino County

There are over 80 farms in Mendocino County dedicated to fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, eggs, dairy products, mushrooms, and honey among other products.  The results of their hard work can be purchased at Farmers Markets, Farm Stands, and sometimes directly from the farm itself.  There are eight Certified Farmer’s Markets active in the County right now: Boonville (Saturdays, 9:30 – 12:00), Fort Bragg (Wednesdays, 3:30 – 6:00), Gualala (Saturdays, 9:30 – 12:30), Laytonville (Mondays, 2:30 – 5:30), Mendocino (Fridays, 12:00 – 2:00), Redwood Valley (Sundays, 9:30 – 12:30), Ukiah (Saturdays, 8:30 – 12:30), and Willits (Thursdays, 3:00 – 6:00).  Please follow this link to the Mendocino County Farmer’s Market Association to learn more and to get exact locations.

At Taste of Mendocino we loved the Vetch Blossom Honey from Lover’s Lane Farm (Ukiah).  They also sell other honey products (such as Wildflower Honey) online, or at the Ukiah, Mendocino, Fort Bragg, or Cloverdale Farmers Markets.

Oma's Gourmet Brittle

Oma’s Gourmet Brittle

Oma’s Gourmet Brittle (Potter Valley) offered samples of their Almond, Maple Walnut, and Peanut Brittles at Taste of Mendocino.  They sell their products online, and make other brittles as well including some covered with dark chocolate, white chocolate, and other flavors.

Another discovery for us was Kemmy’s Pies (Willits), whose Cranapple Blueberry pie was outstanding.  Her pies are sold at markets throughout Mendocino County and other Northern California locations, including Geiger’s Long Valley Market (Laytonville), Purity Market (Fort Bragg), Shelton’s Natural Foods Market (Healdsburg), Redwood Valley Market and Ukiah Natural Foods.

Representatives from the “Secrets of Salsa” cookbook were at Taste of Mendocino sharing samples from recipes in the book.  This bilingual cookbook grew out of an adult school English conversation class and proceeds from the book support the Anderson Valley Adult School in Mendocino County.

Annual Events in Mendocino County

Trying to find a special event around which to plan a trip to Mendocino County?  These annual events may be your answer:

WinesongFor travelers into wine, consider the International Alsace Varietal Festival (February), the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival (May), Hopland Passport Weekends (in March and October), the Yorkville Highlands Festival (August), and/or Winesong (September).

If you prefer events with a stronger emphasis on food, consider the Crab and Wine Festival (January), A Taste of Redwood Valley (June), World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue (July), Round Valley Blackberry Festival (August), World’s Championship Abalone Cook-Off (October), and/or the Wine and Mushroom Festival (November).

Or would you rather spend your time concentrating on Mendocino County’s Art and Music offerings?  Then consider Symphony of the Redwoods (November, February and April), the Whale and Jazz Festival (April), the Kate Wolf Music Festival (June), the Mendocino Music Festival (July), Art In The Gardens (August), The Sea Ranch Art Tour (September) or the Studio Discovery Tour (September).  You can learn more and discover other opportunities by following this link to the Arts Council of Mendocino County.

Lodging Options in Mendocino County

For Mendocino County visitors, your overnight accommodations can be anything from a camping tent to a historic Inn.  At Taste of Mendocino you could view pictures, meet the owners, ask questions, and sample food from your lodging options.  These are the accommodation choices that hold the most appeal for us on future trips:

Brewery Gulch Inn (Mendocino) is a romantic craftsman-style Bed and Breakfast on a windswept bluff-top overlooking Smuggler’s Cove.   Most rooms have ocean views, and decks or balconies.  In the evenings, you can relax in the Great Room with fine wines and a light dinner buffet featuring organic, locally-sourced ingredients.

Golf at Little River Inn

Golf at Little River Inn

We’ve actually stayed at Little River Inn (Little River), a classic Inn located just two miles south of Mendocino where you can enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the seascape.   Many rooms have ocean views, fireplaces, steam showers, and hot tubs.  You will also find an on-site restaurant, day spa, and 9-hole golf course here.

For a more private stay, check out Sheep Dung Properties where one of their three properties may be exactly what you are looking for.  Long Valley Ranch (Ukiah) offers two modern cottages on an 800 acre ranch which can accommodate between 2-8 people.  The Other Place (Boonville) offers four secluded cottages on a 500 acre ranch on a ridge overlooking Anderson Valley housing 2-4 people at a time.  If you’d rather have easier access to things, another option is a single cottage in Downtown Boonville across from the Fairgrounds.  The first two properties also offer plenty of space for active and curious dogs.

Another place we’ve enjoyed staying at is the tranquil and relaxing Stevenswood Spa Resort (Little River).  The onsite boutique spa offers a variety of body, skin, and facial treatments to both hotel guests and visitors.  The restaurant here is excellent, offering exemplary pancakes in the morning.  Stevenswood did not participate in Taste of Mendocino, but we enjoyed our stay here so much we wanted to include them in this article.

Traveling With Your Dog in Mendocino County

Dogs on a leash are welcome at many Mendocino County destinations, including the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, State and County Parks, Campgrounds, and at several beaches (Big River, Portuguese, Can Damme, and Caspar).  There is also one off-leash beach, Noyo Beach.  If you have a dog and are contemplating a trip here, you should go to the Visit Mendocino County website and get a copy of their “2012 Pet Friendly Travel” brochure, and/or check out the website for Hairy Putter, their Director of Barketing (yes, “Barketing”).

Obviously, we enjoyed Taste of Mendocino 2012.   And now, we’re just counting the days until the Winesong Charity Auction and Tasting on September 7 and 8, 2012.


If you want to know where else we recommend going in Mendocino County, please check out the Favorites By Wine Region portion of our website.  Simply go to the navigation bar near the top of the page, click on the “Favorites By Wine Region” section, and follow the drop-down menu to “Favorites in Mendocino County.”


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