Tag Archives: Viognier

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

Pride Mountain Vineyards: Tasting and Picnic

Lulu chilling in the Pride Mountain tasting room.

Lulu’s weekend of wineries concluded with a visit to Pride Mountain Vineyards. Pride sits on the ridge between Sonoma and Napa counties; actually the county line runs through the vineyards and winery. This makes for some painful logistics, having to keep track of which county which grapes come from, and having to do paperwork if grapes and/or juice is transferred from one county to the other. Also, while it’s a winding road up the mountain to Pride (which is at about 2100 feet elevation), if you haven’t been completely turned around, it seems that the counties are on the wrong sides of the line, with Napa on the west and Sonoma on the east. It’s just that the county line is not even close to straight, so it is backwards up there. (I wonder what the history of that line-drawing is, and if it’s documented anywhere.)

Pride Mountain Vineyard tasting room.

We did an initial tasting in their tasting room. Most of the grapes are grown right there, the exception being the Chardonnay, grown in the Carneros region. Lori and I both thought their Viognier was excellent: not too flowery a nose, good acid and fruit, nice body. One of the best that we’ve had. Left there with a bottle of that. They also make a dessert Viognier by just fortifying the Viognier juice. This makes a dessert wine that is not too high in alcohol (less than 14%), not too sweet, not too syrupy. We also left with a bottle of that, and we don’t ever (well hardly ever) get dessert wines. Not that we don’t like dessert wines, just that we don’t usually drink them, so we don’t buy them. We also tried the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which were excellent. And there was a 2001 Merlot open! This one had aged quite nicely; yes we brought home some of the current release Merlot.

Winemaker Sally Johnson-Blum gave us a tour of their cellars.

We then took a tour of their caves with the winemaker, Sally Johnson-Blum. They have about 20,000 square feet of cave space for barrels. As we went through, we stopped at some of the interesting barrels for tastes: Cabernet Franc from two different vineyard blocks, Merlot from different vineyard blocks, Cabernet Sauvignon field blend, and a couple more. A lot of fun tasting with the winemaker and getting her perspective on the different vineyards and varietals, what she likes about each, what she thinks about when she’s blending either the straight varietals or the Bordeaux style blend.

View from the Pride Mountain Vineyard picnic area.

Last, we had a picnic. They’ve got a few picnic tables essentially at the top of their vineyards. Tremendous view, and we had an excellent lunch of quiche, lox, salami, cheeses and fruit, together with one of those Merlots. Beautiful.

No veraison yet (July 30th) in the Pride Mountain vineyards.

By the way, grapes grow differently in different microclimates, different AVAs. Of course we knew this, but here was direct evidence. The previous day we were in the Dry Creek Valley and veraison had started; the grapes had started turning red. Not so at Pride. Sally mentioned that their harvest typically runs a couple of weeks later than that for wineries on the valley floors.

L’Chaim,

Larry