The West is wine country

The West is home to the country's best wine regions. Explore them all and taste their best offerings, from the cult cabs of Napa to the Pinots of Willamette Valley

Taste your way through Anderson Valley

For farm-fresh food and sublime wine, spend an autumn weekend in California's least known, most beautiful wine country

Lazy Creek Vineyards in Anderson Valley

The vineyards at Lazy Creek are some of the few that weren't torn out during a 1970s phylloxera scare. Result: The winery's coveted whites are among the only ones made from old-vine grapes.

Emily Nathan

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  • Lazy Creek Vineyards in Anderson Valley

    Part of the fun of visiting Lazy Creek Vineyards is meeting gregarious owner and wine-maker Josh Chandler (along with his family and dogs).

Driving down the winding, tree-canopied dirt road that leads to Lazy Creek Vineyards, you'd think we've taken the turnoff to some secret state park. Alders, oaks, madrones, and redwoods all crowd alongside and over the road, which bumps over three wooden bridges before emerging onto hilly vineyard vistas.

The golden light of Indian summer filters through the trees and illuminates the dust kicked up by our car. It's a scene so pretty and peaceful that we're tempted to stop the car and get out for a walk ― or a nap. But then we see 8-year-old Grey Chandler, whose parents, Josh and Mary Beth Chandler, own and run Lazy Creek, and our energy picks up.

"What's that baby's name again?" Grey asks. We laugh, amused that this little boy would remember our 1-year-old son, Toby, from our visit several months prior. Then before we know it, Grey is leading Lilli, our almost-3-year-old daughter, down the gravel path. "Come see my tractor," he says enthusiastically, and they're off and running.

Taking advantage of the unsolicited child care, my husband and I duck in to the tasting room, which is more like a cozy garage, for a sip of "Gewürz juice" that Josh pours from the barrel. It's bone-dry and delicious. Then we follow Josh out to the chicken coop, where he hoists our daughter, who has finished her tractor inspection, up on his shoulders and instructs her to open a drawer. She does, and out pops a chicken, like a jack-in-the-box. "What's under that chicken?" he asks. Eyes wide, Lilli feels under the bird, then incredulously holds up an egg. "Warm!" she says.

We have found perfection, I think: wine for Mom and Dad, and Old McDonald's Farm for the kids.



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