While walking through the dormant vineyards at the Goldeneye Winery in the town of Philo in Mendocino County I began to reflect on my past 3 days exploring the wines of the Anderson Valley. I quickly realized why many flock to this wine country and also why many are unfamiliar with it. Unlike Napa and Sonoma which receive most of the worldwide fame and wine press coverage, Mendocino is a very laid back and quiet wine region. Although the Anderson Valley AVA does not have the extensive winemaking tradition as Napa or Sonoma it does have a relatively new and rich history.
Located roughly 90 miles north of San Francisco cutting through the coastal range, the western tip of the Anderson Valley is only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean while the tiny town of Boonville lies 20 miles to the east inland. The Anderson Valley name is credited to the Walter Anderson Family who in 1845 left Missouri and headed out west seeking gold, new land, and new opportunity. By chance they landed in this irrefutable Eden surrounded by dense redwoods on the southwest side and grassy hills to the northeast.
It wasn’t until 1964 that the modern era of wine-growing and wine-making in Anderson Valley came into play. Leading the charge was Dr. Donald Edmeades who planted 24 acres of premium wine grapes: Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Following Dr. Edmeades lead was Tony and Gretchen Husch who crushed their first grapes in 1971 and founded Husch Vineyards, Anderson Valley’s first commercial winery since prohibition. Many have pursued the success of Husch and Edmeades, notably Ted Benett of Navarro Vineyards who refers to the Anderson Valley’s emphasis “on content, not appearance” as well as the world class French Champagne House Louis Roederer which built a California sparkling wine facility in the Anderson Valley in the early 1980’s.
The Anderson Valley AVA, one of ten AVA’s in the Mendocino County, is a 15 mile stretch that has become well known for its cool climate grape varietals like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the aromatic whites such as Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. And with 28% of vineyard acreage certified organic or bio-dynamic, Mendocino wine country is considered the “greenest” wine region in the U.S… I highly recommend making a trip through Mendocino and visiting all the down to earth and friendly wineries but if time doesn’t permit you, please come on into Beltramo’s and try some of my favorite Mendocino wines:
Husch Anderson Valley Gewurztraminer 2009 ($11.99): Producer’s notes: “aromas of pineapple, honeysuckle…flavors of ripe melon, lychees and an inviting spice character.” An excellent value wine!
Terra Savia Mendocino Chardonnay 2009 ($11.99): Made with estate grown organic grapes, this is one of my favorite un-oaked Chardonnays. An excellent food wine, with a very refreshing style with plenty of citrus fruit flavors.
Drew Gatekeepers Blend Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir 2009 ($27.99): A blend of two ridge top vineyards 2000+ ft. in elevation and less than 10 miles from the ocean: Manchester Ridge Vineyard and Perli Vineyard. Heavy aromas of rose, violets, tea leaf; hint of spearmint; light mineral notes. Full of lively flavors of dark cherry, spices. A bit Burgundian in style.
Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2009 ($49.99): A blend of four different estate vineyards: Confluence, Gowan Creek, Narrows, and Abel Vineyards. Excellent tannic structure, supported by ripe cherry and blueberry flavors, balanced use of oak and refreshing acidity.
Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut ($17.99): A multi-vintage cuvee made in the traditional Roederer style, known for its body, finesse and depth of flavor. 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir. Notes of crisp apple, lemon tart, and touch of yeast. Flavors are creamy with pear and baked apple characteristics.
Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Rose ($24.99): 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. Slight Salmon tinge, wonderful crisp acidity and full round flavors of bright cherry, strawberry, red apples and touch of minerality.
Will Sundquist- Beltramo’s Wine Consultant and Assistant Manager