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
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 Valenti Vineyards. We also recommend the Fashauer Vineyard Zinfandel. The tasting room is usually open from Thursday to Monday, but during the winter they are only open Friday to Sunday. 8660 Highway 128, Philo 707-480-2507
Domaine Anderson – Part of the Roederer Group portfolio, Domaine Anderson produces Estate Chardonnays and Estate Pinot Noirs, as well as two vineyard-designated Chardonnays and two vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs. All of the grapes sourced by the winery come from certified organic vineyards, and their Dach vineyard (where the winery is located) is certified biodynamic. Our favorites here include the Estate Chardonnay, Dach Vineyard Chardonnay, Walraven Vineyard Chardonnay, Rosé of Pinot Noir, and Pinoli Vineyard Pinot Noir. The beautiful tasting room features the finishes and furniture of several local artisans, and is open daily. When you visit, we suggest you choose a vinyl record from their fun and eclectic selection, and then play it on the available turntable to create your own soundtrack. 9201 Highway 128, Philo (707) 895-3626
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 include the Fog-Eater, Morning Dew Ranch, Valenti, Wendling Vineyard, and Estate Field Selections Pinot Noirs. We also like their Albariño and Valenti Syrah wines, as well as their “Sur La Mer” cider. 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 and Charles Vineyard 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
Handley Cellars – This small family-owned winery is at the northwest end of the Anderson Valley, on 59 acres of the original Holmes Ranch. Still standing on the property are the now-refurbished ranch house, barn, and the original water tower. The winery was bonded in 1982 and has been CCOF-certified organic since 2005. Proprietor and Founding Winemaker Milla Handley and co-Winemaker Randy Shock are focused on producing flavorful and elegantly complex wines that possess distinctive varietal characteristics, reflect the terroir of where they are grown, and will compliment diverse cuisines. This well-behaved-dog-friendly winery welcomes drop-in visitors seven days a week, offers tours by appointment, and their garden courtyard is open for picnics. The winery also has a complimentary Electric Vehicle charging station, available when the tasting room is open. Our favorite wines here include the Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine, Pinot Noir Rosé, Pinot Blanc, Estate Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and Handley Estate Pinot Noir. 3151 Highway 128, (707) 895-3876 or (800) 733-3151.
Lichen Estate – From the original founders of Breggo Cellars (and using their old tasting room) this winery makes sparkling and still wines from their 203-acre organic estate vineyard which is planted to 7 acres of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Half of the fruit is used for Lichen Estate’s sparkling wines and the other half is used for their estate still wines. Our favorites here are the Pinot Gris, and the Estate Pinot Noir. They have also started an interesting experiment, a solera-style Pinot Noir. 11001 Country Road 151, Boonville 707-895-7949
Long Meadow Ranch – Owned by Ted, Laddie and Christopher Hall, Long Meadow Ranch is a collection of 5 properties in Napa Valley, Anderson Valley and West Marin. Napa Valley properties include 16 acres of vineyards in the Mayacamas Mountains where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc are grown, and 74 acres on the Rutherford Estate are planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. LMR’s Anderson Valley Estate has 69 acres planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. LMR’s diverse estate is also home to over 500 varietals of organic heirloom fruits and vegetables, as well as beehives and chickens. Our favorite wines here include the Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Blanc, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and both of the Tanbark Mill Vineyard Pinot Noirs (Pinole and Perrygulch Block Selections). Tasting experiences include seated wine tasting, food and wine pairings, olive oil tastings, and/or a visit to the mountain winery and caves on the Mayacamas estate. In St. Helena, tastings take place in the Farmstead General Store daily (and the excellent Farmstead restaurant is onsite as well). In Anderson Valley, tastings take place at The Madrones in Philo but only Thursdays through Mondays (and they also offer Stumptown Coffee espresso drinks). 738 Main Street, St. Helena (707) 963-4555 and 9000 Highway 128, Philo (707) 963-4555
Lula Cellars – The boutique winery Lula Cellars is located in a tasting salon on the 22-acre estate property at the far west end of Philo and is very dog-friendly. These handcrafted, limited production wines are only sold directly to consumers and winemaker Matt Parish’s goal is to craft world-class wines that are both approachable and memorable. Lula’s focus is on their Estate and Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs and single-vineyard wines from the greater Mendocino County. Our favorites here are the Rosé of Pinot Noir, Gewürtztraminer, and their Pinot Noirs (especially the Anderson Valley, Costa Vineyard and Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noirs). 2800 Guntley Road, 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. Toby has found a way to marry his artwork with his winemaking – each bottle of wine features his beautiful artwork on the labels. The tasting room, managed by Hospitality Director Natacha Durandet, is a charming space housed in an old apple-drying facility dating back to the late 1800’s. We love the entire portfolio of wines here, including the Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer, as well as the Anderson Valley, Cerise, Roma’s Vineyard and Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noirs. We’re also very fond of his newer L’Air De Mer (“The Air of the Sea”) Pinot Noir, a blend of selected barrels. 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
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
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
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.