New Tasting Rooms, an Inn Amid Redwoods: Where to Sip and Stay in Anderson Valley
There’s plenty to explore in California’s Anderson Valley wine region, from charming restaurants to nearby natural wonders.
Jennifer Waits and Brian Mast attended their first Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival more than 20 years ago. They both fell in love with the wines and community, sparking an interest in making wine themselves. Fast forward to Waits-Mast Family Cellars, a San Francisco winery sourcing solely from Mendocino County.
Winemaker Shalini Sekhar began working with Waits-Mast in 2013 and was soon introduced to the Mendocino community. She’s now an “active member,” she says, and today makes wine for several boutique wineries as well as her own label, Ottavino Wines.
They recommend checking out the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association’s vineyard map to plot your route along Highway 128, which slices its way across the region. There’s plenty to explore, from new tasting rooms to nearby natural wonders. Hendy Woods State Park, for example, spans two redwood groves with trees more than 1,000 years old.
“Take an easy stroll and stare in awe at these giant redwood groves,” the winemaking trio says. “Breathe in the magical aroma and you’ll almost forget that you’re just five minutes from your next stop tasting vino!”
If you’re headed to the region in warmer months, make sure dip your toes in the cool waters of the Navarro River. Then fill up on burgers and fries at Lauren’s restaurant in Boonville.
“One of our regular stops after a hot day of vineyard visits, Lauren’s is great for the super fresh salads, burgers, and weekly specials,” say Waits, Mast and Sekhar. “It’s always a treat when we’re there during heirloom tomato season as the BLT is one of the best that we’ve tasted anywhere.”
We asked the trio for more of their favorite spots to sip, savor and simply enjoy all that this wine region has to offer. Keep scrolling for a few of their top picks. And if you’re driving or flying through San Francisco, they can meet you for an appointment at their urban winery.
The Boonville Hotel
Stay at this “modern roadhouse” in Boonville for farmhouse-fabulous digs and an onsite restaurant serving up prix-fixe dinners in the courtyard during warmer months. boonvillehotel.com
This Philo restaurant is a “crave-worthy hot spot for fine dining.” Think slow-roasted pork raviolini, and chilled asparagus and spring onion veloute.
“Neither a disco or a ranch, this wine bar and market carries wines from around the world, as well as a well-curated showcase of Anderson Valley bottlings.” Owner Wendy Lamer serves “tapas and wines to taste onsite as well as gourmet goodies to make a picnic to take on the road.”
“Beautiful Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs crafted by winemaker Sarah Wuethrich exhibiting a range of structure, fruit and tension that really showcase what Anderson Valley has to offer.” A new tasting room will open in spring 2022 “right across from the Madrones!”
“The Madrones is a quiet inn with rooms surrounding a beautiful garden.” The property also boasts an onsite restaurant plus tasting rooms from Smith Story Winery, Drew Family Cellars and Long Meadow Ranch. “A short distance from the ‘compound,’ we especially love the private cabins, ‘The Brambles,’ nestled in the redwoods that leave one with a peaceful sense of being away from it all.”
“Wine AND cheese! Jennifer is obsessed with their laychee (fresh goat and sheep milk cheese) with fennel pollen and pink peppercorn, which is the perfect pairing to one of Sarah Cahn Bennett’s zippy white wines.”
Weatherborne Wine Corp.
“Winemaker Cris Carter and his graphic designer wife, Anya Farquhar, opened their new tasting room in a beautiful space showcasing a variety of wines from Anderson Valley and beyond. Enjoy a tasting on their back patio and pick up a snack at Lemon’s Market next door.”
Thomas T Thomas Vineyards
“The new eponymous label by longtime Anderson Valley fan and vineyard owner. Taste these elegant, restrained Pinots with the owner himself and get a glimpse of the undulating hilltop vineyards of the valley. Appointment only.”