Saturday, June 27, 2009

One Day in the Anderson Valley

The Anderson Valley in Mendocino County is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the Napa Valley. Tasting rooms tend to be small, friendly, and less pretentious. If you like PinotNoir, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and other Alsatian varietals, you'll enjoy a day of winetasting in the Anderson Valley.

Seventeen wineries that are members of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers have tasting rooms that are open to the public for drop-in tasting. Over the past few years I have visited all of these tasting rooms except for Brutacao. Here's my list of tasting rooms to visit if I had but one day in the Anderson Valley and did not want to make any appointments.

Navarro Vineyards is one of the oldest wineries in the Anderson Valley. The wines are terrific and the tasting room is friendly. Navarro produces a wide variety of wines with grapes from the Anderson Valley and other regions in Mendocino County. It's a great spot for a picnic lunch.

Roederer Estate consistently produces some of the best sparkling wine in California. When Champagne Louis Roederer planted its first vineyards in the Anderson Valley in 1982 and released its first wine in 1988, the world noticed.

Toulouse Vineyards is nothing fancy. You just taste some great wines among the tanks and barrels. Plus I'm a sucker for silly mottoes like "Too tense, Toulouse."

Claudia Springs Winery's tasting room makes Toulouse's look pretentious. The tasting room is in an old building with "warehouse ambiance" on the side of route 128. When we visited, Claudia walked us through an array of Claudia Springs and Harmonique wines.

I like folk art as does Milla Handley, winemaker and owner of Handley Cellars. When you visit the tasting rooms, you get to taste some pretty good wine and see part of Milla's folk art collection. Like Navarro, Handley Cellars makes a wide array of wines.

Since five wineries is the most I can visit in one day, I'm going to stop here. I've limited this posting to wineries that do not require appointments. If you want to make an appointment or two, you might check out Esterlina, Londer, or Foursight. If you would like to take a private tour of the Anderson Valley and the Mendocino Coast that includes visits to some of these wineries, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

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