Friday, May 18, 2012

Mendocino County...And It's Two Personalities

One County, Two Personalities and a Mountain!

Touring The Vineyards In Mendocino!
Mendocino County is above Sonoma and when driving there you have to decide which way to turn. There's a fork in the road and whichever way you take, you'll still be in Mendocino, but that's the only thing the two sides have in common. Well that's not true; they both have great wine...just different types of wine.

You see the county has a split personality, which can be expected from a place whose primary cash crop is marijuana!

Over Looking The East Side Of Mendocino!
Just before you leave Sonoma you can take the right or left fork. We always go right, which should surprise no one. By staying on Highway 101 you will be on the East side of the county and headed towards Hopland, Ukiah and Calpella with wineries along that drive and beyond.

The East side of Mendocino is like Sonoma in culture and wines. In fact, if you like the laid back attitude of Sonoma you'll love the east side of Mendocino, where they take laid back to a whole new level. They have the same types of wines as Sonoma and they're excellent, which makes this a perfect wine country trip! 


Barra's Wine Maker Gave Us A Tour! 
While we stayed in Ukiah, most wineries are around Hopland or above Calpella.  Barra of Mendocino, close to Calpella, is one of my favorites. Not only do I like their wines, but their wine maker also gave us a two hour tour of the winery. Unfortunately the majority of the wineries around Calpella are open by appointment only, so you will have to call them to make the arrangements. But take the time, you'll like their wines. 

Parducci Wine Cellars! 
There are few wineries between Calpella and Ukiah, but a visit to the Parducci Wine Cellers tasting room is well worth the trip. They make Mike Ditka's wine for his Chicago Restaurant and their chocolate "Zinful Shooters" are fun. 

Nelson Family Vineyards & Dog!!
Make sure to visit the Milano Winery and Nelson Family Winery. We joined Nelson’s wine club and have enjoyed their wines. And while you're there, make sure to pet their winery dog! 

If you go left coming out of Sonoma you're on highway 128 which takes you through the Anderson Valley. This coastal side of Mendocino is prettier than the east side and in a lot of ways it's Napa's little sister. And like Napa, it's much more uptight and expensive. And that’s why the county has a split personality!

But if you're a Pinot and Champagne lover, this is the place for you! They’re the vast majority of wines being produced in the Anderson Valley. The weather is a little cooler, which makes it perfect for the grapes used in those wines. 

Tasting Wine At Breggo Cellars!
The Breggo Cellars was great fun. The wine maker invited us back to the winery where his assistant was testing the wine. She had the wine in a large pitcher and handed it to us to pass around and...taste! This hopefully somewhat explains the picture of me drinking wine out of a pitcher. 

Wine From The Barrel At Toulouse!
We loved the Toulouse Vineyards. They’re by appointment only, but we were quickly invited to the winery. It's owned by a retired fire department captain, who poured the wines at his makeshift tasting bar! And we tried wine out of the barrel which made our visit complete! 

Esterlina's Deck Overlooking The Valley!
One of our favorite was the Esterlina Vineyards. Their wines are really nice, but what made the tasting fun is that it takes place on a raised deck overlooking the valley, which added a WOW factor to the experience! It's also by appointment, but well worth the effort.

On The Lawn At Goldeneye!!
For champagne fans Scharffenberger Cellars and Roederer Estate should more than meet your needs. And if you’re into some snob appeal, venture over to the Goldeneye Winery. Their tasting is a little more expensive, but it’s pared with food and you can sit out on the lawn while enjoying their wines! 

And now for that mountain!!!

We were in Ukiah and decided to go to the coastal side for some tastings and to have dinner along the coast. That was the plan until we drove over the mountain. I've been on mountain roads but highway 253 with its sharp curves, sheer drop offs, blind corners and steep inclines was one of the scariest. And it didn’t help that brother-in-law/ designated driver Joe likes to sightsee as he drives.

Celebrating Crossing The Mountain!!
Joe wanted to have a few at dinner and who could blame him after a day of driving three fun loving wine tasters. And there was no way we were driving that road at night after Joe had anything to drink! So we tasted some wines and then crossed the mountain again and had dinner on the laid back side.

Go to Mendocino, it’s a great wine trip. But remember its basically two different wine areas with a split personality. And beware of the mountain!    
Robert's First Wine Tasting!  


The Neighborhood Wine Porch Party!!

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  1. Haha. I'm glad you finally explained that picture of you guzzling wine out of a pitcher. I just assumed you were at a frat party.

  2. I knew I needed to explain when my youngest son asked me about the picture. He also thought I was just drinking the wine that way. I decided after his comment that maybe I needed to explain it to all the readers. Thanks for the comment and for reading our wine blog. And if you have not joined the Blog please take the time to join. The “Join this site” button is on the upper right hand side of the blog. Cheers! Harold