By John Sundsmo.
The catchy logo of Mendocino County, “Find Your Happy,” was on display at the recent Taste of Mendocino held at San Francisco’s Fort Mason. With vintners, fresh press olive oils, craft whiskey, goat cheeses, gourmet appetizers, coffee and luxurious resorts all competing for my attention, I soon found myself feeling quite happy. The venue provided a good opportunity to review some fine Mendocino County wines and upcoming events. In the interest of sharing the Mendocino “Happy” vibe, what follows is a list of some Taste of Mendocino participants (with links), along with wine tasting destinations and a short calendar of upcoming events in Mendocino County. Hopefully, with the following tips, you too will “Find your Happy in Mendocino County.”
Fresh press small lot olive oil
Stella Cadente in Fort Bragg offers handpicked Tuscan-style award-winning organic olive oils that rival the best Italian olive oils.
Mendocino Wine Tasting:
Barra Vineyards of Redwood Valley – Farming organic grapes since 1955, with Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Muscat Canelli vines on 175 acres at the headwaters of the Russian river.
Bee Hunter Wine -From those who will “always be huntin’ for organically grown, sustainable and biodynamic vineyards” with 2015 Docker Hill Pinot Noir, 2016 Mariah Vineyard Chardonnay and 2014 Oppenlander Pinot Noir.
Edmeades Vineyards of Anderson Valley -Renowned mature vineyards on Mendocino Ridge offer up unique high quality Zinfandel for more than four decades from their Shamrock, Gianoli, Perli and Piffera vineyards.
Greenwood Ridge Vineyards -This small family owned winery in Philo, CA specializes in late harvest Riesling and Pinot Noir with annual production of less than 1500 cases; featuring an octagonal tasting room designed by Aaron G. Green, an associate of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Handley Cellars -Offering balanced distinctive wines with the varietal characteristics of the northwest Anderson Valley, the vineyards produce a special edition 2015 Blanc de Blancs as well as Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.
Harmonique -A small lot vineyard with a tasting room in the John Hanes Art Gallery in Boonville, serving gold medal winning Mondial du Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Artevino Maple Creek Winery -Located in Yorkville Highlands, making small lot wines in the French style with Bordeaux blends; 2015 Estate Chardonnay; 2009 Estate Merlot; and 2013-2014 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.
Murder Ridge Winery -Located on Mendocino Ridge with a distinct micro climate. Vines on Murder Ridge’s rugged steep hillsides produce unique Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.
Seebass Family Vineyards -Now nearly three decades under grape, the former 1800’s pear orchard boasts old vine Zinfandel grapes from the era of fine family-nurtured Mendocino wines in the Italian style. The 2014 Grand Reserve Syrah, 2011-2012 Grand Reserve Chardonnay, 2014 Grand Reserve Merlot all competed for my attention, but the 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel won.
Theopolis Vineyards -A hand-crafted small lot winery in Yorkville Highlands of Anderson Valley with award winning Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir and “Symphony” a blend of Muscat and Grenache Gris.
Wilson Artisan Wineries -Based in the Dry Creek Valley, the Wilsons now have 10 artisan wineries including: Wilson Winery, Mazzocco Sonoma Winery, deLorimier, Matrix, Soda Rock, Pezzi King Vineyards, St. Anne’s Crossing, Jaxon Keys, Greenwood Ridge and Rockpile Vineyards.
Anderson Valley goat cheese
Pennyroyal Farmstead Cheese -Located near Boonville, the creamery tasting room offers seasonal small batch handmade aged cheeses from proprietary mixtures of sheep and goat milks.The cheeses are naturally low in fat.
Redwood Valley Distillery
American Craft Distillery -In Redwood Valley, offerings include a clear whiskey, bourbon, Bavarian Hard Wheat whiskey and Russell Henry Gin.
Coffee Company in Fort Bragg
Thanksgiving Coffee Company -In Fort Bragg since 1972, this roastery features Fair Trade sustainable organic coffees from farmer cooperatives in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Hawaii, Laos, Peru, Rwanda, Sumatra and Uganda. Ethically focused on improving the lives of family farmers, the company’s roasting output from Fort Bragg is about 550,000 pounds each year.
For day trips and weekend planning
“Hopland Passport” – food pairings, winemaker visits, garden tours, live music and award winning wines
“Annual Rhododendron Show” – Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg
“Anderson Valley Pinot Festival” – winemaker dinners, Grand Tasting, technical conference and food pairings – Camp Navarro
“Sierra Nevada World Music Festival” – at Mendocino County Fairgrounds
“World’s Largest Salmon BBQ” – Noyo Harbor, Fort Bragg – all proceeds go to improve salmon populations on the Northern California Coast
“Anderson Valley Barrel Tasting” – barrel tastings along Highway 128 at participating wineries with a chance to purchase wine futures for yet to be released vintages
“Art in the Gardens” – Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Fort Bragg
“Winesong Weekend” – Pinot Noir Celebration.
Places to stay on Highway One near Fort Bragg
The Inn at Newport Ranch -Located on the beautiful Highway One Coast overlooking the ocean, with coastal redwoods, horseback riding, spa, hiking and whale watching, this small inn has recently been recognized by Conde Nast Traveler, the Wall Street Journal, Travel & Leisure. Plan ahead and book well in advance.
Noyo Harbor Inn -Overlooking Noyo harbor in Fort Bragg, the inn features walking trails to Noyo River and harbor; and dining at the Noyo Harbor Inn Restaurant.
To further pursue your adventures on the northern California coast, visit the Mendocino County website for a complete list of events and activities. Live large and have a “happy.” Click here for more articles by John.