New Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in Wine Country
SAN FRANCISCO—California wine country offers a variety of experiences to enjoy, from wine regions in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to those along the state’s 800-mile coastline where visitors—and winegrapes—enjoy warm days, cool nights and beautiful beaches. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute is launching a new series of California Wines Road Trips. First up in the series: where to sip, stay and play in Mendocino County, located in the North Coast region of the state.
Home to towering redwoods and a foggy coast, Mendocino County winemakers, farmers and artists are drawn to its rugged beauty—more than 90 percent of the land is wild and undeveloped. With a small-town vibe and relaxed hospitality, Mendocino County is a great place to start touring wine country.
SIP: Explore the region’s wineries with this map of Mendocino County wineries. Or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, art displays, concerts and picnic areas.
STAY: Mendocino County offers dozens of romantic and charming inns, B&B’s and lodges. Stay in the completely walkable Mendocino Village—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—or select a secluded cottage in the redwoods or on an ocean-front vista. Explore the options at Visit Mendocino.
PLAY: October 17-18, Hopland’s Fall Passport Event opens the doors to local wineries with tours, art, live music and food pairings plus educational seminars to learn more about wine. More fun things to do: take a hike among immense redwood trees in Jackson State Forest or see the world’s tallest living tree in the Montgomery Woods State Reserve. On the coast, check out the historic Point Cabrillo lighthouse, where migrating whales can be spotted. Wrap up the adventure with a scenic ride on the historic “Skunk Train.”
MAKE: The picturesque village of Mendocino is a haven for artists, especially those who enjoy plein air painting. Visitors can make art of their own at the Mendocino Art Center, which offers classes and Open Studios.
GROW: Mendocino County’s vineyards are proudly “green:” many of them are farmed using sustainable, organic or Biodynamic methods. In fact, one-third of California’s organic winegrape acreage is here. With 13 distinct American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), the climate ranges from coastal coolness—best suited for sparkling winegrapes such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir—to warmer inland climes where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel thrive. Enjoy native plants and gardening? The beauty of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, one of the few public gardens with ocean frontage, is worth a visit any time of year.
EAT: Besides grapes, there are 500 types of edible mushrooms in Mendocino County. They pair deliciously with the local Pinot Noir wines at the Mushroom Wine and Beer Fest, Nov. 6–15. Or try pairings back at home with Wine Institute’s recipe for Wild Mushroom Soup with Parmesan Croutons. Year-round, the village of Mendocino has casual cafés to fine dining in the town’s many historic buildings and inns. Throughout the county, local wines are on the menu, paired with local artisan ingredients such as olive oil, cheeses and duck. In January, tour the county in one stop at the Mendocino Crab, Wine and Beer Festival.
Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 136 American Viticultural Areas and 4,400 wineries that produce 90 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org