Tag Archives: Anderson Valley

Mendocino Getaway

Goldeneye Winery tasting flight

My mother came up north to visit recently, and in addition to having her see her grandkids and great-grands we decided to take her up to Mendocino for a couple of days.  We started by picking up sandwiches at Big Johns market in Healdsburg.  Great place for grabbing your wine country picnic supplies, as they’ve got a large range of prepared foods in addition to the deli and custom sandwiches.  Our first stop was Hendy Woods State Park, near Philo in Anderson Valley.  The park is home to several stands of the huge coastal redwoods, and has the Navarro river running through it.  

After our picnic and a walk through one of the redwood groves, we continued up Anderson valley, stopping at Greenwood Ridge Vineyards.  Stacey the tasting room manager helped us with our tasting, starting with Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, then Syrah and finally Zinfandel.  All the wines were good, with the Viognier standing out as one of the best we had tasted in a long time.  

In Mendocino we checked in at the Alegria B & B, relaxing there for a bit before heading to dinner at the Little River Inn about 2 miles south of the town of Mendocino. They’ve been family owned and in business continuously for over 70 years, now with the third generation running the inn and restaurant. Excellent food — I had a nice bouillabaisse and Lori pork osso buco. Fresh ollolaberry compote a la mode for dessert was delicious. Then back to Mendocino to the Mendocino Headlands State Park, and viewing sunset over the ocean. 

The next day, after a delicious breakfast at Alegria, we headed up to Ft. Bragg to ride the Skunk Train.  Lunch was at Sea Pal at the Noyo Harbor, for the best fried fish I’ve had in quite a long time. Fresh cod, light batter, fresh frying oil with no residual taste, small pieces cooked perfectly.  I accompanied this with one of the 18 or so beers they have on tap, a Redwood Curtain special bitter ale. Sitting at a picnic table outside on the dock, watching the boats come and go and the crews clean the fresh caught fish, it was a great lunch. Then on to the Point Cabrillo Light Station, a lighthouse that’s been around for about 100 years.

Dinner that night at the Heritage House 5200 Restaurant, with another outstanding dinner. The highlight was again dessert, this time chocolate pot d’creme.  

Then the slow trip back home the next day, after another great breakfast at Alegria. We wandered around Mendocino for an hour, then had ice cream for lunch. Coming back through Anderson valley we tasted Pinot Noir at Goldeneye Winery. Our final stop was at Pennyroyal Farm, which we had visited earlier this year. This was just a buying stop, as we knew about their cheeses, and had just opened up a bottle of the Pennyroyal Pinot Noir the previous week. It’s a great value. 

So ended a nice weekend in Mendocino County.

L’Chaim,

Larry

Goat close up

Pennyroyal Farms Cheese Tasting

Goat close up
Close up with one of the goat herd at Pennyroyal Farms.

For a week in March the focus of Sonoma County turned slightly away from alcohol (wine and beer) to cheese, with the annual California Artisan Cheese Festival (CACF). Part of CACF is holding cheese education and tasting events at various creameries in the area.  Lori and I decided to attend the event at Pennyroyal Farm in Anderson Valley (Mendocino County).  Yes, not quite in Sonoma County, but only about an hour drive from our house.  

Here’s the agenda we had for the event:  

10:45 – 11:00              check in

11:00 – 12:00              tour of the farm

12:00 – 1:15                lunch in the creamery

1:15 – 2:45                  cheese tasting/pairing

Pennyroyal Farms makes cheese and wine, and raises the goats (lots of goats) and sheep for their wine. They also grow some of their own grapes.  They’ve got a great backstory:  two young women meet in the Fermentation Science major at U.C. Davis, one interested in wine, the other in cheese.  A few years later some land becomes available in Anderson Valley, and they join together as partners, realizing both their dreams together.  

The tour is fun and educational: vineyards, the goat barn for both the mature and baby goats, the milking shed, the cheese-making operation.  They’re not making their wine on site right now, but there are plans to expand the current buildings to add the winery facilities.  

For a change of pace I had pre-ordered the vegetarian meal for lunch, and it was delicious.  They served their Sauvignon Blanc and one of their Pinot Noirs with lunch, for a nice accompaniment.  Then we had the cheese tasting, and pairing with various drinks, including hard cider, wine and beer.  Their cheeses were all wonderful, but especially notable was the Laychee, a fresh cheese with a soft, spreadable texture that is hard to stop eating. (They only gave us enough for the tasting, but we bought more and brought it home, and it was hard to stop eating it!)  

Pennyroyal Farm picnic benches and view
Pennyroyal Farm is a great place for a picnic.

If you can find their cheese in the store or restaurant, don’t hesitate to purchase.  And if you’re in Anderson Valley for the wine or the beer (Anderson Valley Brewing Company is one of the best microbreweries around), take a break and go for the cheese.  Or bring a picnic lunch and buy a bottle of wine there.  You’ll enjoy your time at Pennyroyal Farms.  

L’Chaim,

Larry

There Are Bubbles In My Alcohol

As reported in my previous post, Lori and I spent Memorial Day weekend up in Mendocino with our boys and their families. I won’t say too much about the weekend, except that we ate and drank quite well. It took a lot of running after the grandchildren to avoid a huge weight gain for the weekend. One highlight which deserves mention was our “Dude” night: we watched The Big Lebowski and drank White Russians. After the little ones had been put to bed, of course.

On the way home we went through Anderson Valley. It had been a number of years since our last visit to any of the wineries there. Since we were traveling as a group, we decided that one winery and lunch would be our stops.

The winery we chose was Roederer Estate, the sparkling wine people. Lori and I aren’t huge sparkling fans, but we do enjoy a glass now and then. Our younger son, Jacob, and his wife Brittany are huge bubbly fans, and this was a highlight of the trip for them. Roederer is a beautiful facility, wonderful to visit and taste at. They also have a nice lawn outside, and garden, great for the grandchildren to run around on and play hide and seek.

They had a nice selection of their sparkling wines open. The one that they’ve gotten the most acclaim for is the Brut Rosé. We walked out of there with both non-vintage and vintage versions of this, including a magnum of each.

The Buckhorn in Boonville, "A Fine Grub Pub"

The Buckhorn in Boonville, “A Fine Grub Pub”

After that we headed into Boonville for lunch, at The Buckhorn Boonville (“A Fine Grub Pub”). While Anderson Valley is known for its wineries, it’s also home to Anderson Valley Brewing Company (AVBC), one of the best microbreweries around. Their Boont Amber is widely distributed, but my favorite is the Hop Ottin’ IPA. There’s no AVBC brewpub, but the Buckhorn has carried nearly the full line of AVBC beer for as long as we’ve been heading up there. So we ordered a pitcher of the Poleeko Pale Ale for the table, ordered some fine grub (the food was very good, as always), and watched the S.F. Giants win another baseball game. Nice way to end a holiday weekend.

L’Chaim,

Larry