Some Pinot Noir fans (like us) took advantage of a glorious opportunity a few weeks ago to enjoy some of the best wines made from this varietal at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. The Festival weekend offered activities ranging from Winemaker Dinners to Winery Open Houses to a Grand Tasting in the middle of the Valley. Over 50 wineries at the Grand Tasting poured wines made from grapes grown in this beautiful appellation as food purveyors offered small bites ranging from Salads to Pizzas to BBQ Leg of Lamb.
Keep reading and we’ll tell you which wines and food bites we enjoyed the most at the Festival, and then we’ll preview some wine festivals coming to the area this Summer. We encourage you to plan your own wine country travel and exploration around this part of Mendocino County, and/or seek out the wines and wineries below at wine stores and/or restaurants.
At the 2015 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, our favorite wines from Anderson Valley wineries were:
Balo Vineyards (Philo, 707-895-2215) – 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014 Pinot Noir Blanc, 2013 Estate Pinot Noir
Baxter Winery (Philo, 707-895-3173) – 2013 Oppenlander Vineyard Chardonnay, 2012 Langley Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2012 Valenti Vineyard Pinot Noir
Drew Family Cellars (Philo, 707-895-9599) – 2013 Balo Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2013 Fog Eater Pinot Noir, 2013 Morning Dew Pinot Noir
Foursight Wines (Boonville, 707-895-2889) – 2012 Zero New Oak Charles Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2012 Charles Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2012 “Clone 05” Charles Vineyard Pinot Noir
Goldeneye (Philo, 707-895-3202) – 2014 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir
Handley Cellars (Philo, 707-895-3876) – 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé, 2012 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir (and we also loved their 2012 Mendocino County Pinot Noir)
Knez Winery (Philo, 707-895-3036) – 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2012 Demuth Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2012 Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir
Lazy Creek Vineyards (Philo, 707-895-3623) – 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2013 Estate Pinot Noir
Lichen Estate (Boonville, 707-895-7949) – 2013 Les Pinots Noir and Gris, 2012 Pinot Noir
Lula Cellars (Philo, 707-895-3737) – 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Navarro Vineyards (Philo, 800-537-9463) – 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir
Phillips Hill Winery (Philo, 707-895-2209) – 2013 Valenti Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2012 Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noir
Roederer Estate (Philo, 707-895-2288) – nonvintage Brut Sparkling Wine
These California wineries aren’t physically in Anderson Valley, but we also really enjoyed these wines made from grapes grown in this appellation:
- Champ de Rêves (Santa Rosa) – 2013 Pinot Noir Blanc
- Copain Wines (Healdsburg) – 2012 Monument Tree Pinot Noir, 2012 Kiser “En Bas” Pinot Noir
- Donkey & Goat Winery (Berkeley) – 2013 Broken Leg Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2013 Helluva Vineyard Pinot Noir
- Littorai Wines (Sebastopol) – 2012 Roman Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2012 One Acre Pinot Noir, 2012 Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir
- Saintsbury (Napa) – 2013 Donnely Creek Pinot Noir
The Grand Tasting at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival always includes tasty food samples from a variety of local food purveyors and our favorites this year were:
Bones Roadhouse is a restaurant in Gualala focusing on BBQ, Brews and Blues. At the Festival they had a constant line of people waiting for their Grilled Asparagus, Red Potatoes and BBQ Leg of Lamb.
Boont Berry Farm is a health food store in Boonville that was offering up a trio of salads. Our favorites this year were their Thai Cole Slaw and Roasted Vegetable Salads.
Piaci Pub & Pizzeria has an extensive menu of Salads, Calzones, Focaccias and Pizzas (in 3 sizes) at their restaurant in Fort Bragg. Our favorite slice at the Festival was their Garlic and Prosciutto Pizza.
Pennyroyal Farm produces several farmstead cheeses crafted exclusively from the milk of goats and sheep raised on their farm in Boonville. We’ve always been a fan of their Laychee (a soft fresh cheese) but we also enjoyed their aged Bollie’s Mollies and Peppered Moldunes.
Roundman’s Smokehouse is a family-owned and family-operated smokehouse in Fort Bragg that produces and sells gourmet smoked fish, meat and cheese. Their sausages, smoked meats and smoked cheeses are all made in their own processing plant and our favorite samples were their Smoked German Sausage and Smoked Chicken with Garlic and Herb Sausage
The Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association is a not-for-profit trade group created in 1983 to promote the grapes and wines of the Anderson Valley. The Association organizes two festivals each year, the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival and the International Alsace Varietals Festival (held in February). The Association also supports the local community and approximately $250,000 has been donated so far to community groups such as the Anderson Valley Health Center.
If you’re looking for another wine event to trigger a trip to Mendocino County, the 2015 Yorkville Highlands Wine Festival comes to Yorkville on August 22. You’ll find over 60 wines from this appellation along with delicious cuisine, a silent auction, a grape stomp and plenty of other fun and games for all ages. Tickets are $60 per person but only $45 per person if purchased by August 1 (using early bird discount code EBYH15 online). Tickets without the wine (for Designated Drivers and youths 10-20) are available for $30 and kids that are 10 and under can attend for free. Wineries participating will hopefully include Bink Wines, Judson Hale Winery, Meyer Family Cellars, and Yorkville Cellars. To purchase tickets and see more details please go here.
Or, if you can’t wait that long, consider attending the Anderson Valley/Yorkville Highlands Barrel Tasting Weekend on July 25th and 26th when these neighboring appellations join forces to preview their new wines and offer you the ability to purchase “futures” of your favorites at special prices. Participating wineries will also provide opportunities to meet vineyard managers, winemakers and winery owners (which may all actually be the same person). Some of the wineries that participated last year include: Baxter Winery, Foursight Wines, Knez Winery, Lula Cellars and Phillips Hill Winery. Tickets are $20 per person and you can purchase them or find more details by going here.
Mendocino County includes winding roads, coastal escapes, and a breadth of outdoor activities that make you truly feel like you’ve gotten away from it all. Located in the rolling hills of the western County, Anderson Valley is home to a unique group of vineyards and wineries producing excellent wines. Whether you are an experienced wine aficionado with an expansive wine cellar or an eager “newbie” just discovering the pleasure of good wine, the Anderson Valley deserves exploration. If you need additional ideas, please follow the drop-down menus on the navigation bar above under “Favorites by Wine Region” to see our recommendations for the Anderson Valley (or elsewhere in the County).