Just got back...Anderson Valley tasting/buying
So, my SO and I just came back from a lovely vacation in the village of Mendocino, CA, just adjacent to Anderson Valley. I met her there after dropping our youngest off to his freshman year of college at Humboldt State U, up in Arcata. Lots to celebrate!! We spent one day tasting and buying. Anderson Valley is known for Pinot Noir and cool weather white varietals like Gerwertstamminer. Here's what we came back with:
1. Husch Vineyards - This is one of the older outfits in the valley, with moderately priced offerings. Their tasting is free. The girl gave us the wine list, with descriptions, and as we tasted, the first conclusion that my SO came to is that she's only interested in the highest end wines! I was chuckling as we bought one bottle of their reserve '05 Pinot Noir, and a very nice bottle of '05 Sauvignon Blanc dessert wine.
2. Breggo Cellars - One of the newest wineries in the valley, they buy all their grapes from within the AVA, and have just got their first plantings in. They charge $5 for a tasting and apply 100% of that to your purchase. We came away with 2 bottles of '06 Sauvignon Blanc. SO didn't think she liked any white wine outside of Champagne until she tasted this. Very lovely. I thought the SV was more elegant than the Chardonnay, which was also good. I recommend this outfit very highly.
3. Goldeneye - Since SO wanted only the best wines available, I told her this was the place for her! Indeed. Their tasting is the most expensive we saw, $5 for their regular wines, and $10 for an "enhanced" tasting that included their highest end offerings. They don't apply this to your purchase, either. We went for the $10 tasting. What we learned is that we should have shared one, instead of buying 2. Neither one of us was drinking the whole amounts at any of the places, since we were driving our own car. Of the 2 premium wines they have, the '04 Narrows Pinot Noir, and and '04 Confluence PN, we chose the Narrows. It comes from the coolest end of the valley, and the wine was deep, plush, and complex. It was absolutely gorgeous. We bought 2 bottles.
4. Roederer - This is sparking wine, composed of Pinot and Chardonnay. Last Christmas, SO's brother gave us a bottle of '96 Dom Perignon, which was divine. In tasting their '00 L'Ermitage, we were reminded of last year's Dom. So, we bought one each of: '97, '99, and '00 L'Ermitages. We weren't able to taste the '97 and '99, but took the plunge anyway. In reading the post about that lucky devil with the '78 Dom, I'm tempted to buy a lot more and put it away for a good long while! We also bought their '05 Pinot Noir still red wine, which I loved.
We are amateur wine lovers. This is the first time we've taken a wine country outing together, and we had a great time. On the way home to Southern Cal, I passed through Paso Robles and Santa Barbara, but I spent all my cash up in Mendocino. Guess we'll have to start saving again and take another trip!!
Next time you may want to stop in Paso Robles. Interesting place with the climate a bit different from cool Mendocino so wines are different too. You may want to stop there for tasting in Summerwood winery - easy access from 101. This stop once had 'religious' influence on my wine education. ;)
Their respective locations work perfectly for me though, because I live in SoCal, and Paso Robles is on the way to Mendocino for me! My trip actually started out getting to NoCal via the 5 through the valley, because I was taking my son to college in Humboldt, and we needed to get him and his stuff up there ASAP. After leaving him to the joys of higher ed, I spent my first week as an empty nester in Mendocino on vacation. Then, coming back home on the much more picturesque, 101, I unfortunately had spent all my $ in Anderson Valley before hitting Paso Robles. Another reason to make another trip, with more money!
You missed Navarro???
It's been over a decade since Husch impressed me with anything, but Breggo and Goldeneye are both excellent, and Roederer continues to produce the best (IMHO) sparkling wine in California on a commercial scale.
I'm glad you enjoyed your trip -- next time try the Santa Cruz Mountains and/or the wineries in and around the Bay . . .