Wine Country Itinerary: Mendocino

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By Robert P. Farmer
Of California's many options for wine-touring, few match Mendocino for its bucolic aesthetic and for the drama of its natural beauty. Meandering through the verdant hills, twisting along the highways and byways, visitors are presented with a protracted display of wooded hillsides and expansive grassy, sheep-dotted meadows. And stretching toward the coast, the terrain gets steeper, more mountainous, until finally giving way to the never-ending stretch of blue that is the Pacific Ocean.

Mendocino County is unique among California's wine regions for many reasons, not the least of which is its wines. The climate is rainier in these parts, and the moisture combines with rich volcanic Anderson Valley soil to produce outstanding Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays along side unexpected but equally capable Riesling and Gewürtztraminer. There are several great wineries to be discovered along Hwy. 101 in Mendocino County, and more flanking the state routes that serve as tributaries to the Highway.

Stop 1: Jeriko Estate Vineyards

A gorgeous bit of glamour along Hwy 101 built by Dan Fetzer, whose family has amassed quite a reputation in these parts. Jeriko's expansive and graceful grounds are atypical for area wineries, but the wines perfectly embody the region--certified organically grown chardonnays, pinot noir and merlot. The tasting room and marketplace is always bustling and the pouring staff is dependably friendly and knowledgeable. This is a great spot for sampling the wines, buying your favorite varietal, and enjoying it along with a picnic on the beautiful outdoor patio.
Tasting Room: 12141 Hewlitt and Sturtevant Rd., Hopland Open 10am-5pm daily for tours and tasting.
Tasting Fee: $5; fee waived with purchase

Stop 2: Ukiah Brewing Company
In the good chance your appetite is just getting warmed up after Jeriko, continue north on 101 for a worthwhile stop in Ukiah. Mendocino is home to a handful of great microbrew pubs, and Ukiah Brewing is one of the best. Venturing well beyond typical pub grub, this was the nation's first brewpub to be certified organic. The wide ranging menu--from pasta to burgers--offers great nosh for wine country travelers, while the handcrafted beers provide a refreshing change of pace from the day's tasting.
Tasting Room: 102 S. State St., Ukiah (707) 468-5898. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Tasting Fee:n/a

Stop 3: Meyer Family Cellars
Fans of Napa's Silver Oak (and they are legion) will be interested in stopping at this lovely winery along Hwy 128 because its founder earned his stripes as a founder of the cultish cab house, where he served as winemaker for more than 15 years. Here, in Mendocino's Yorkville Highlands, the late Justin Meyer's legacy lives on in the form of beautifully structured, fruit-forward Syrahs and excellent Port, for which the Meyer Family has become known. The winery is charming and pastoral, with peaceful picnic grounds and bocce ball courts. The tasting room is accessed via a meandering road off 129 at mile marker 34.2. Tastings are typically free.
Tasting Room: 19750 Highway 128, Yorkville, Open Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm
Tasting Fee: Complimentary

Stop 4: Maple Creek Winery
ust beyond Yorkville, the simple life can be rediscovered at Maple Creek Winery. With its dialed-back pace and family-style welcome of each visitor, this is a tough place to leave once you make it there. In the small, rustic tasting room, owner's Tom Rodrigues and Linda Stutz themselves are very likely to be pouring samples of their award-winning Artevino wines, named for their two passions, and for which they have become widely known. Tom art is on view throughout the room. Most of the small-yield wines are only available at the winery.
Tasting Room: 20799 State 128, Yorkville, Open daily 10:30am-5pm.
Tasting Fee: $5; fee waived with purchase

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4 Comments

I'm taking my husband to Fort Bragg for his birthday Friday June 26th. I wanted to stop at some wineries along the way. I also wanted to stop somewhere for a picnic. We will be coming from San ramon. Do you have any suggestions. Thanks inadvance for all your help!!

It really depends what route you are taking to get to Fort Bragg. I'm going to assume you're coming from Hwy 101. But again, from there you can either take 128 Hwy across to Hwy 1 or you can go further up Hwy 101 and cut across Hwy 20 to 1.

See my suggestions for either route:

Hwy 101 to Hwy 128 to Hwy 1
You'll be going through Anderson Valley which has some of my favorite wineries.

Check out this itinerary already put together - http://discover.winecountry.com/wine/2008/06/wine-country-itinerary-anderso.html

Love Navarro Winery - definitely a must stop. Goldeneye and Roederer Estate also good choices. Other wineries in the area - http://mendocino.winecountry.com/wineries/anderson_valleylistings.html

If you are doing Hwy 101 to Hwy 20 to Hwy 1
You'll be going through Hopland and Ukiah. Also some great wineries to check out here as well. There's always Parducci Wine Cellars. They are even having an event there this Saturday 5-8, but you may already be in Fort Bragg by this time. Other than that I'm not as familiar with wineries on this route because I usually go the other way. Sorry!

In general you may want to read this article that I found on WC about going to Fort Bragg - http://discover.winecountry.com/travel/2008/12/making-your-way-to-fort-bragg.html - you might find it useful.

Not sure if you'll have time to stop in the little town of Mendocino or maybe take a day out of the Fort Bragg trip to visit. Its a very cute, quaint town on the coast, great for just walking around, gorgeous views of the ocean and some of the best food - Mendo Burger makes the best burgers! Hope it's still open. Ask the locals where it's at, because it can be hard to find!

Silversmith Vineyards is a small family owned winery that produces Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Our new tasting room is conviently located directly adjacent to U.S. 101 at the West Road, Redwood Valley Exit #557 (about 5 miles north of Ukiah, in Mendocino County). Turn west at the top of the off ramp. Go past the south bound on ramp. Take the next left onto Vineyard Oaks Drive. Take the first driveway on your left and proceed to our tasting room in the big brown barn, or call us at 707-485-1196 and we will guide you in. We have a huge parking lot which provides easy turning for recreational vehicles. Our facility is fully hadicap accessible. Come by and see us, taste our wines, maybe have a picnic.

Don't miss this winery:

Navaro Vineyards
Address: 5601 Hwy. 128, Philo, CA
Telephone: (707) 895-3686

Great wines!

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