Featured image courtesy Fabian Jauregui
Sip, Savor, and Indulge – A Guide to Wine Tasting in Anderson Valley
Headed to the Mendocino Coast in northern California? Be sure to make a stop at these top Anderson Valley wineries. The region is loaded with stunning hillside vineyards and over 30 tasting rooms. Located in the rolling hills of Western Mendocino County, Anderson Valley is about two hours North of San Francisco and twenty-two miles southwest of Ukiah. The best way to get there is Highway 128, which crisscrosses through hills and valleys leading visitors to some of the most exceptional wines of Mendocino County.
Best of all, visitors will find this wine region uncrowded, with authentic wine-tasting experiences, and friendly winemakers happy to tell you more about their wine. And as you drive along this fifteen-mile stretch, delight in the natural beauty surrounding small towns and family-run wineries.
- Sip, Savor, and Indulge – A Guide to Wine Tasting in Anderson Valley
- The Secret Language of The Anderson Valley
- Anderson Valley Wines and History
- Travel Logistics
- Anderson Valley Wine Tours
- Best Anderson Valley Wineries to Visit
- “Agritourism” Hot Spots in Anderson Valley to Visit
- Where to Eat in the Anderson Valley
- Where to Stay in the Anderson Valley
- Events and Festivals in Anderson Valley
- Exploring the Surrounding Attractions and Activities
- If You Go
- Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting Anderson Valley Wineries
The Secret Language of The Anderson Valley
Anderson Valley is the home of Boonville, where residents once spoke the secret language of Boontling, as the locals call it. Some say it was developed by a closely-knit farming community. Others say it was created by workers in the hop fields who wanted to gossip about others. Even children used this lingo to keep their secrets safe from adult ears.
Whatever the origin of Boontling, one can say it was soon the talk of the town. “Pardon me?” was the question of outsiders and visitors; they were baffled. This lingo changed and borrowed words from English, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Pomoan (the Native American tribe that originally inhabited the region) languages.
Anderson Valley Wines and History
Today, the Anderson Valley is home to another home-grown secret, only this time, it stems from borrowed bud wood originating from Alsace, Champagne, and Burgundy. Wine is also a language of its own. A language that inspires and creates community no matter its origin when shared across tongues that only a few insiders can comprehend.
Fun Fact: Bahl Hornin’: means “good drinking!” in Boontling.
Roughly 100 years after Boontling came to be, the French Champagne house Louis Roederer announced its plans to build a California sparkling wine facility in the Anderson Valley. Roederer’s decision to locate its vineyards and sparkling wine production facilities drew international attention and prestige to the region as a premium grape-growing and wine-producing area. And not surprisingly, one year later, in 1983, the Anderson Valley gained AVA status. Today some of the best sparkling wine, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer California has to offer have their roots in the Anderson Valley.
It is possible to fly into nearby Sonoma County Airport (STS) in Santa Rosa and then take an airport shuttle to Anderson Valley. But the best way to get around Anderson Valley is via car. Most people reach Anderson Valley by driving north on Highway 101, past Cloverdale, and turning off on Highway 128 at the Boonville-Mendocino exit. Follow 128 for approximately 30 miles, passing through the little towns of Boonville and Philo. Check current flight prices into STS right here.
Anderson Valley Wine Tours
Because of the lack of major tour companies, most visitors to Anderson Valley provide their own transportation to wineries by renting a car. However, there is one company, based in Fort Bragg, that offers Anderson Valley winery tours – Mendo Insider Tours and Transportation. The company has over ten years of experience and offers a fleet that can accommodate a wide range of group sizes.
Best Anderson Valley Wineries to Visit
25701 Highway 128, Yorkville
What Guests Like About It: Beautiful views from the tasting room, Bordeaux varietals and blends
Heading northwest on Highway 128 from Highway 101 is Yorkville and the Yorkville Highlands. Yorkville is home to Yorkville Cellars, a small family-run winery that produces all eight of the main Bordeaux grapes. They bottle each varietal individually by vintage and are the only known winery outside of Bordeaux that makes this effort.
Meyer Family Cellars
19750 Highway 128, Yorkville
What Guests Like About It: The picnic tables on the shaded patio provide a lovely setting for wine tasting
Matt Meyers, son of the well-known Justin Meyers, landed in Anderson Valley to start his own winery, the Meyer Family Cellars. He carries on a family winemaking tradition that began with Silver Oak in Napa Valley. Matt takes advantage of the Anderson Valley’s cool climate to produce some of the best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. But his wide range of wines also includes Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Petite Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, to name a few.
9200 Highway 128, Philo
What Guests Like About It: The views of the vineyard-covered hills from the patio, and the warm and elegant indoor tasting room
If you’re a Pinot Noir enthusiast, a visit to Goldeneye is a must. This winery, owned by Duckhorn Vineyards, specializes in producing world-class Pinot Noir from their estate vineyards in Anderson Valley. Their wines are known for their complexity, balance, and age-worthiness.
Inside the tasting room is elegant and warm. Outside, spacious seating around the patio provides a lovely place to wine taste in pleasant weather.
8501 Highway 128, Philo
What Guests Like About It: Friendly, knowledgeable wine servers, excellent sparkling wine
Since 1981, Scharffenberger Cellars has been making sparkling wine. Using the best Anderson Valley and Mendocino fruit, Scharffenberger produces a wide variety of wines from a classic Brut to the Crémant, always perfect for a holiday meal. Inside the white house turned tasting room guests will find an intimate yet comfortable setting. Outside, several tables and ample seating provide ideal picnic grounds.
8001 Highway 128, Philo
What Guests Like About It: The surrounding views and unhurried pace
For some of the best views of the Anderson Valley, check out the Toulouse Vineyards tasting room overlooking the valley floor toward the fertile hillsides westward. Guests can sit inside at the bar or at a table outside while being poured each of their wines one at a time. It won’t be the fastest wine-tasting stop, but it will be serene and picturesque.
5601 Highway 128, Philo
What Guests Like About It: The wide selection of wines, and spacious outdoor seating
Navarro Vineyards and Winery is one of the oldest wineries in Anderson Valley, with a history that dates back to the early 1970s. Navarro is known for its exceptional cool-climate wines, including earthy Pinot Noirs, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and dry Alsatian-styles. Navarro also produces some delicious non-alcoholic grape juices.
The tasting room offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and is family-oriented, making it the perfect place to relax and enjoy a glass of wine.
4400 Highway 128, Philo
What Guests Like About It: The history, the wines, and the authentic tasting experience in a historic building
Starting in 1971 when the Anderson Valley was apple country, the Husch family took a chance and planted Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer. Today, these varieties are the region’s trademarks. A visit to the area wouldn’t be complete without stopping at Husch Vineyards, Anderson Valley’s first bonded winery. Despite its importance and history in Anderson Valley, Husch remains a humble presence. Its tasting room is housed in a converted pony barn that dates to the 1800s, providing an authentic experience that focuses on the wines. Husch produces 22 different wines including some excellent Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Gewurztraminer.
And if you really want to immerse yourself in the history and beauty of Husch Vineyards, walk up to the three-bedroom house, originally the family home, that is more than one hundred years old. It is just steps from the tasting room. And be sure to visit the pollinator garden just across from the house.
4501 Highway 128, Philo
What Guests Like About It: Beautiful views of the vineyards, generous tastings of sparkling wine
Known for its exceptional sparkling wines, Roederer Estate is a must-visit for any wine lover. The winery, founded in 1982, is part of the renowned Champagne Louis Roederer family. Their sparkling wines are crafted using traditional methods and showcase the elegance and finesse for which Anderson Valley is known for.
Stop by and enjoy their generous pours of their award-winning sparkling wines from a magnum, “en magnum.” Here you can practice your Boontling and make a toast to “Bahl Hornin’” as the Tiny Bubbles arouse your planning for the last leg of your journey through Mendocino wine country – The Mendocino Coast.
3151 Highway 128, Philo
What Guests Like About It: The international artwork on display in the tasting room, dog-friendly
Handley Cellars is a family-owned winery that has been producing exceptional wines in Anderson Valley since 1982. They are known for their award-winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer wines, each crafted with a focus on balance and elegance.
Their tasting room offers panoramic views of the valley, making it a picturesque spot to enjoy a tasting. Or, if you’re interested in a winery tour, private tasting, picnic or camp-out, Handley Cellars has it covered.
2800 Guntly Road, Philo
What Guests Like About It: The relaxed outdoor tasting environment
Lula Cellars is a small, family-owned winery in the “Deep End” of the Anderson Valley. It focuses on producing handcrafted wines from their estate vineyards. Its portfolio includes exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer wines, each showcasing the flavors and characteristics of the region.
31351 Philo Greenwood Road, Elk
What Guests Like About It: Single vineyard Pinot Noirs, private tastings
Drew Wines, near the town of Elk is a small family winery that consistently wins accolades. Drew remains committed to Pinot Noir and Syrah from California’s northern far coastal edge, which includes Mendocino Ridge, Anderson Valley, and the Yorkville Highlands. Private tastings are available Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.
In “downtown” Boonville, you’ll find restaurants, shops and tasting rooms to explore. Including Philo Ridge Vineyard’s tasting room, the only 100% wind and solar-powered winery in the county.
Here you’ll also find the popular Disco Ranch, a combination wine bar and specialty market. Owner Wendy Lamar stocks local Anderson Valley wines but also sells wines from other regions. And it’s not uncommon to see local winemakers spending an afternoon hanging out and tasting French Champagne or Italian wines. This little store is so unique it even won Wine Spectator’s 2022 Award of Excellence.
“Agritourism” Hot Spots in Anderson Valley to Visit
Agriturismo or Agritourism defined: the crossroads of tourism and agriculture
The best way to experience the Anderson Valley is through its Agritourism, a blend of agriculture and tourism, and The Madrones in Philo is an excellent example of it. This Mediterranean style enclave looks like something straight out of Tuscany. Guests can kill two birds with one stone here with wine tasting and lodging. It is comprised of two wine tasting rooms, a cannabis apothecary, an intimate restaurant, and nine beautifully appointed guest quarters. The tasting rooms are steps away from each other.
Another Agritourism destination that isn’t as wine-centric, but wine-inspired is The Apple Farm. Located on the banks of the Navarro River—across the river from Hendy Woods State Park—the Philo Apple Farm is a working apple farm and a bed-and-breakfast. Come autumn; the apple orchard contains nearly 80 varieties of apples. And guests can stay in one of three intimate cottages located “smack-dab in the middle” of the apple orchard.
Gowan’s Heirloom Cider, established in 1876, is another apple farm along Highway 128 that takes a unique approach to cider tasting. Gowan’s offers food and cider pairings that show off the versatility of cider. Try the Classic Cider then pair it with the curry sauce. Or sample the Spiced Apple with aged cheddar. Vegetables, dips, bacon, cheeses are all available for this unique cider tasting.
Next, be sure to stop in Boonville where Pennyroyal Farm resides. Pennyroyal is both winery and creamery. The components of the operation support each other, with sheep doing vineyard work as well as providing milk for cheeses. Guests can walk in and taste the bright Sauvignon Blanc and Pinots while taking in views of cheesemaking through large glass windows. Visitors can also make an appointment to tour the farm, including the sheep and goat barn.
Boonville is also home to Anderson Valley Brewing Company that’s renowned for its uncommonly good beer, and seasonal releases only found at the Tap Room.
Where to Eat in the Anderson Valley
Boonville Hotel and Restaurant
You might not expect a fine dining establishment in the tiny town of Boonville, but inside the Boonville Hotel and Restaurant visitors will find just that. Michelin-star Chef Perry Hoffman uses his talent and seasonal ingredients to dazzle locals, guests at the hotel, and anyone lucky enough to discover this unexpected delight.
Lauren’s at the Buckhorn
Open seven days a week, Lauren’s at the Buckhorn is also located in Boonville. The menu features a wide variety of hearty meals from fish and chips, alfredo pasta, cobb salad, fries that will leave you craving for more, and the “best burgers in Boonville.” It also features the only full bar in town.
Boonville General Store
The Boonville General Store offers breakfast and lunch. For those who want to picnic while wine tasting, the deli offers sandwiches and other easy to pack items.
Where to Stay in the Anderson Valley
Hotels and BnBs are limited within the heart of Anderson Valley, but plenty of Airbnb choices are available. Guests especially love the overnight accommodations on nearby winery properties.
The Boonville Hotel
The Boonville Hotel is located in “downtown” Boonville. This historic hotel was built in 1862 and oozes with charm. It features 17 unique rooms that range from cozy to spacious. Plus, it has its own onsite restaurant headed by the well-known Chef Perry Hoffman.
The Madrones is a Mediterranean compound in Philo. Influenced by the Italian Agriturismo concept of staying on a winery or working farm, the property offers a relaxed stay in rural wine country. Guests can shop, taste wine, and dine all onsite.
Indian Creek Inn
Indian Creek Inn is set in Philo. This 15-room property is located alongside Indian Creek. The hotel offers BBQ facilities, a bocce ball court, and a shared kitchen in each of its four buildings. It makes an ideal spot for small groups traveling together to Anderson Valley.
Events and Festivals in Anderson Valley
Anderson Valley wine country is not just about wineries. Throughout the year, the region hosts a variety of events and festivals that celebrate the wines and the spirit of the valley. From harvest celebrations to food and wine pairings, there’s always something happening in Anderson Valley.
One of the most anticipated events is the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, held in May. This three-day celebration showcases the region’s most iconic varietal, with tastings, seminars, and food pairings. It’s a great opportunity to taste a wide selection of Pinot Noirs from Anderson Valley wineries and learn from the experts.
Other events include the Anderson Valley White Wine Weekend, the Anderson Valley Harvest Tidrick Celebration. Each event offers a unique experience that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the flavors and culture of Anderson Valley. Find the full calendar of events online at Anderson Valley Wines.
Exploring the Surrounding Attractions and Activities
While wine tasting is the main attraction in Anderson Valley, the region offers much more to explore. From outdoor activities to cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone in and around the valley.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the Navarro River Redwoods State Park is a must-visit. This majestic park offers hiking trails, picnicking areas, and opportunities for bird watching. The towering redwoods and the tranquil river create a serene and peaceful atmosphere that is perfect for reconnecting with nature.
If you’re interested in the arts, be sure to visit the Anderson Valley Historical Museum. This small museum showcases the history and culture of the valley through exhibits and artifacts. It’s a great way to learn about the region’s past and gain a deeper appreciation for the wines and the people who produce them.
For food lovers, the Anderson Valley offers a variety of culinary experiences. From farm-to-table restaurants to artisanal food producers, visitors will find a wealth of delicious and locally sourced options. Don’t miss the opportunity to pair your wines with the region’s renowned cheeses, charcuterie, and fresh produce.
If You Go
Regardless of what brings you to Anderson Valley, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with the region. The rural feel, lack of crowds, and surrounding beauty all contribute to a relaxed pace, a step back in time. And it doesn’t hurt that this makes one lovely stop on the way to the wild, Mendocino Coast.
For more information on the region’s wineries, visit Anderson Valley Wines.
Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting Anderson Valley Wineries
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