Anderson Valley wineries
Heading up there for the first time in a while and boy are there a bunch that are new to me
Any comments on the following? I'll update this list as I get more info.
Black Kite Cellars
Londer Vineyards & Winery**
Philo Ridge Vineyards
Raye's Hill Vineyard & Winery**
Toulouse Vineyards & Winery
*see below for tasting room info
**tasting by appointment
The following make wine from AV grapes but are elsewhere:
MacPhail Family Wines - Sebastopol
Skewis Wines - Healdsburg
Woodenhead Vintners - Russian River
Visited a bunch of new-to-me wineries this past weekend.
Foursight: fantastic, very restrained and elegant style, loved everything except the most expensive Pinot Noirs were a shade too oaky for me. Supplants Navarro for me as the #1 winery in the valley.
Baxter: excellent, pricey. Natural yeast, neutral oak. Chardonnay had a very Burgundian nose, too austere to judge well outside of a meal so I bought a bottle.
Knez: very good PN, preferred the reasonably priced Anderson Valley to the vineyard-designated $$$$.
Lula: very good PN, 100% neutral oak. Got a bottle, we'll see if it's really worth $42. I wasn't as impressed by the rosé or Gewürztraminer.
Philips Hill: restrained, elegant PN.
I'll likely make annual visits to the above. Probably won't return to the following unless I hear they've changed their styles:
Esterlina: liked the Rieslings, reds didn't do it for me
Toulouse: flabby whites, average PNs except for the smoked 2008s
Philo Ridge: pretty good Chardonnay, rest average, some decent values in older wines 50% off for close-out
Balo: looked like a fun place for a party wit bocce courts and a pizza oven. The one wine they had was OK / average PN, not worth $40.
Elke: interesting and very unusual white PN, wasn't big on the rest of the wines, really nice people
There have been big changes in Anderson Valley recently. Thought this post could use an update, so here it is!
Wineries who have closed/are retiring:
- Londer Vineyards
- Claudia Springs (are still open but will close down soon)
Wineries who have moved:
- Phillips Hill (into the old Standish building)
- LuLa (into the old Phillips Hill building)
- Baxter (now has a tasting room in Philo)
- Harmonique (not open in downtown Boonville)
Some of my fav's:
Foursight - all family owned and operated, 100% estate, natural/traditional winemaking, lots of friendly dogs on site and great Pinots and whites
Baxter - again all family run, small, good wines, and Claire is really friendly
Roederer - who doesn't love sparkling wine?
Just got back from tasting in the Anderson Valley. We tried some that were new to us: Drew, Baxter, and Knez. Based on what we tasted this weekend and in past visits, Knez was far and away the best. The winemaker is also involved with Ant Hill, and his capabilities show well in the Knez pinot noir and chardonnay, too.
Esterlina has been a favorite of mine for some time. Toulouse is great, super friendly people, and great '09 Estate Pinot. Love the chardonnay at Standish and Harmonique.
Headed up there this weekend and would love a new stop. I have been to Goldeneye, Navarro, Bink, in addition to the ones mentioned above.
We visited the area about 6 months ago and among our favorites were Edmeades, for Zinfandel. Also, a great spot to relax and enjoy the view over the valley.
Handley has some unusual wines and a display of the original owners travel memorabilia. They were offering a few small bites of cheese and chocolate with the tasting (that may vary).
Also close by is Husch, very straightforward and simple, but nice wines at reasonable prices.
Wanted to like Roederer and Scharffenberger for sparkling wine, but we were not really that impressed with their wines. No reason to go to both, they are pretty similar, it's an OK stop if you like sparkling.
Handley has a nice sparkling wine. And Handley and Husch also make dry Gewurztraminer, which are not to everyone's taste but interesting to try.
Had a simple but very nice lunch at Buckhorn Grill, the venison burger was a big hit.
We loved Toulouse too, and it was very dog-friendly.
Allow me to digress a little here, we travel with our dog, so notes for other canine travelers.
Actually most places were dog-friendly, only Roederer, Schramsberg and Edmeades didn't allow dogs inside, but were fine with us tasting outside with the dog. Navarro (not too impressed with their wines or the tasting experience, very rushed) has a fenced in lawn area where you can let your dog run.
re: Robert Lauriston
At a point in the past, it WAS part of the Kendall-Jackson portfolio. I cannot recall the name of that upper-tier of wineries in that portfolio, but it was part of it - something like Artists & Artisans?
Did not realize that things had changed, but maybe when part of the corporation was sold by Jess Jackson?
re: Bill Hunt
re: Robert Lauriston
OK............ so enough speculation. I called and spoke with a woman in the tasting room. There IS a small, functioning winery there but it is limited........ mostly for barrel-tasting events and such. The majority of the Edmeades production is done elsewhere. The Philo facility also showcases a Pinot Noir-only brand from Jackson called
Champ-de-Reves. I'm assuming it's not produced there either, though the fruit is from nearby vineyards.
So............... sounds like it's essentially a tasting room with a small production capacity.
Gotta love how you can just call wineries here in CA.
I loved Elke Vineyards or Mary Elke’s tasting room, it is a quaint little barn that holds about 12 barrels and a small tasting table big enough for 8 people to crowd around. We started with some bubbles, I believe this is her first year to have them. They were as good if not better than the renowned “Roederer Estate,” also from Anderson Valley. From the bubbles we moved to a rose’ and then her Pinot Noirs. I loved them all. The Pinot Noirs are what I call a more burgarian style, some fruit in the bouquet, but mostly earthy flavors with a long finish. The “Boonville Barter” is the most affordable Pinot for the quality of wine that I purchased my entire trip. I would highly recommend a stop at this tasting room if you love small off the beaten path wines and wineries.
Handley is one of the best wineries in the Valley and well worth a visit. Very nice tasting wines and very affordable. Pleasant tasting room with nice, knowlegable staff. Be sure to check out their bank of solar panels, the entire winery is powered by them. They are very aware of the environment and do every thing they can to cut down their carbon foot print.
I was very impressed by Bink, in the same complex with Drew. Bought several bottles of 2004 Syrah, well priced at $25 (same as the current 2006 release, which did not seem nearly ready to drink).
Drew's wines were too ripe / extracted / alcoholic / oaky for my taste (as is the case with most California wineries) except for the Albariño (2011?), which was good and the first varietally-correct California attempt I've tried, but at $25 it's not competitive with Spanish imports.
Roederer's wines are as good as ever (best domestic sparkling wines I've had) but since their prices have not kept pace with Champagne's, they seem like much better values than a few years ago. $28 for the NV rosé seems like almost a bargain now that Billecart is $75.
re: Robert Lauriston
re: Robert Lauriston
We stumbled on Lazy Creek a number of years ago, just when Josh and MaryBeth Chandler were taking it over from the older couple that had owned it for many years. They made some very nice wines back then, especially one where the fruit came from a neighboring vineyard that was mostly unattended by it's owner. (I wish I could remember more of the details.) Tasting wine served over a 1x12 suspended between two barrels is always memorable. ;o]
So....................... this being a 6 year old topic.........are you saying the Caranos have improved on the Chandlers' efforts there?
re: Robert Lauriston
Baxter: Loved their Mendocino Ridge Rose and a super nice couple
Balo: Nice Rose as well
Londer now has a Tasting room in Boonville and I liked his latest releases
Drew: Pinot, Syrah and Albarino: All good!
Breggo was really good
It was awesome to being able to finally do a full Tasting at Navarro and bring home red wines as well as white. Their current Zinfandel is quite tasty.
Much of the 2010 Pinot vintage from this area that I tried back in May has a lovely brightness of acidity.
The folks over the hill in Hopland are having their Passport event October 20-21st: $65 including an optional $20 Saturday shuttle pass that picks you up from designated hotels.
Graziano and McFadden are definitely worth a visit from what I had at Taste of Mendocino recently.
For anyone planning a trip to Anderson Valley, a note on Esterlina:
It's well worth a trip, but it's a bit of a pain to reach. It's by appointment only (apparently they have issues with the neighbors), and it's also hard to find. You drive up a long gravel road to get there. But the view is great, and wines are nice. It's owned by the Sterling family who, if I recall correctly, bought it after they sold the Sterling winery for bajillions.
Most of their estate grown bottles are great. Some of the outsourced grapes aren't the best. Their rieslings are very tasty, and they have a few crisp chards that are great. Some of the pinots are also good.
It's a great place to go tasting. You get a lot of attention from the family, all of whom are nice. Well worth the trip. (Josh Chandler @ Lazy Creek first turned me onto Esterlina.)
It was so hot we didn't do much tasting. Just took the path of least resistance and went to Navarro, Husch, Lazy Creek, Roederer, and another new one, Standish:
I think their tasting room's open every day. Didn't think much of the wines but the building's very interesting, it's an old apple-drying plant. And the people were really nice.
For the past 5 years, we've spent a weekend every year in Anderson Valley, and you are missing the best 4: Navarro, Handley, Husch and Roederer Sparkling.
If you like Mexican food, you must eat at Libby's in Philo...she serves the best Chile Rellenos in all of Northern California!
tasting at the Floodgate tasting room, Fridays to Mondays 11-5
$3 for a commemorative glass (or bring your own) due to lack of good water to clean glassware at that location.
Address: 1810 highway 128 (you will have passed Handley cellars if traveling on west 128).
Look for Claudia Springs between a Mexican restaurant and rock shop.
Telephone there Is 707-895-3993.
I love the wines from Londer, but don't think they have a tasting room. Try to grab a bottle of their gewurztraminer. It is excellent: dry, aromatic, long finish. Skewis and Handley make excellent Pinot Noir. I haven't tasted Scharffenberger sparkling lately, but it is so much fun to tour methode Champanois (sp?) houses that it might be a great stop regardless of the wine quality.
We were up there recently and camped at Hendy Woods State Park. What a beatiful setting! The whole valley is stunning. Enjoy.
You're probably aware, Robert, Goldeneye is part of the Duckhorn family (Decoy, Paraduxx). They make another Pinot Noir called Migration which is also quite tasty and almost half the price of Goldeneye. I notice their website says currently sold out, next release Mar. 07, so don't know if they'll have any available for tasting.
We truly enjoy Goldeneye. The wines (pinot and pinot gris only) are outstanding, if you like very fruity California wines. The tasting room is set up like a living room in a a (wealthy) friend's house and the tasing fee includes some pinot-appropriate snacks and they use Riedel pinot glasses. BUT, you really need to call first as I think that the tasting room is only open when they have current releases to sell.
We have also enjoyed Londer's wines, especially the pinot and chardonnay. Again, these are big, fruity California-style wines. I don't think that they have a tasting room yet, but the wines are readily available in the area.
Mike at the Wine Shop in the town of Mendocino is also very happy to make recommendations within the store and the general area. We've tasted both a Woodenhead and a Skewis in his shop. Though I can't recall either very clearly, I know we bought some of the Skewis Pinot, so I must have enjoyed it.
Some of the longer established AV wineries are also producing pretty wonderful stuff. Navarro is always a treat, particularly since it is hard to buy their wines elsewhere. I also think that the Husch wines have greatly improved in recent years and now represent some of the best values around.
Enjoy your trip!
Oh yeah, we've been going to Lazy Creek for years. Not as good a value since the new owners raised the prices. Other standard stops for us are Navarro and Roederer.
I'm not a big fan of Brutocao, Claudia Springs, Greenwood Ridge, or Scharffenberger. Handley and Husch, hit or miss.