When I stared planning my trip I reached out to some of the local tour companies, but when I got a hold of Julie Apostolu of Julie’s Trips & Tours, she was immediately wanting to take care of me in my journey to discover Anderson Valley. Her Van is super comfortable and she offers personalized water bottles, along with a full medical kit in case a headache should arise from too much tasting, but above all she was very informative, and had a special personal touch that only comes from experience. You felt totally safe and confident in her wise hands. I could not have asked for a better guide, she has been a resident of Mendocino for many years and knows all the ins and outs of her county. She made a list and after speaking with my friend Greg Lamer at Roederer Estate, he said oh ‘let me help you with logistics and what wineries to go to’.
Julie picked me up at 11am, and off we went. First Stop Roederer Estates, with my kind host Greg La Mer http://roedererestate.com. I had met Greg before at a few wine events in Los Angeles, so I knew I would be in really great hands, He showed me the full process of how Roederer Estate does this French style Sparkling wine, and all of its history. I was able to see their assembly line behind the scenes from an observation area above; it was fascinating and very educational. I tried Brut, Brut Rosé, L’Ermitage, and L’Ermitage Rosé. Then he had a catering company prepare a delightful lunch for me, accompanied by a delicious glass of sparking wine, how lucky was I? The grounds are lush and gorgeous, what a way to start off my great wine tasting day.
Husch was right across the street, so we were off to their nice tasting room. It is the oldest vineyard in the valley and serves exquisite tastings inside a rose-covered cottage. Under the direction of 3rd generation family members, Husch produces 22 different wines of which six are distributed nationally. Small lots of special wines are available exclusively at their tasting room, a converted pony barn dating back to the late 1800s. It was a short but sweet tasting, and I got to try all of their glorious wines in their tasting room. huschvineyards.com
Next it was off to Phillip Hill Winery, www.phillipshill.com, which is a very small producer, but their wines were amazing, and just the perfect way to taste a different selection of wines never been tasted. A native Californian and grandson of a grape grower, Toby Hill earned a BFA from the California College of the Arts – San Francisco. After honoring the Phillips side of the family with his artistic pursuits and profession in the visual arts, Toby found a new obsession within a new medium, Pinot Noir. In 1997, Toby Hill purchased land in the Mendocino Ridge appellation, overlooking the Anderson Valley. Trusting in his sense of balance and composition, and with support from local winemakers, he made his first wine using Pinot Noir grapes in 2002 grown on Oppenlander Vineyard, nearby in Mendocino’s Comptche.
Pilgrimages to Burgundy, France, have influenced Toby’s pursuit of a refinement and elegance in style. Here, he established collaborative relationships with Burgundian winemakers. Using old world winemaking practices from new world vineyards, he aspires towards terroir driven wines. Using native yeast, less intervention, and believing less is more, Toby’s intent is for each wine to be a genuine expression of the land.
Natacha Durandet brings a wealth of sommelier experience and market expertise to Phillips Hill. Originally from the stunning Loire Valley Region of France, her passion for tasting and collecting wines began at an early age. Natacha has had the opportunity to work at some of the finest resorts in the country, alongside esteemed master sommeliers. Versed in culinary arts, Natacha offers guests an elevated wine tasting experience at their new Tasting Room in Philo, seeking creative French-inspired pairings to accentuate the subtleties of the wines.
Next up was Golden Eye. It had just the most gorgeous grounds of the day. Their tasting was set-up already the same for everyone. You get to try quite a few wines, and they set-up the tasting at a sit-down table over looking their lush gardens and vineyards. Nice nuance, pleasant flavors, nice wines. They have many other labels, and you can sense that from walking into their tasting room. It is big and some what has a corporate feel compared to the others.
Last but not least was Handley, another beautiful winery, but unfortunately by this point my taste buds are fried, its is really hard to try that many wines in one day. They had some nice Pinots and a great Zinfandel. http://www.handleycellars.com/
(Not as part of this day but on Sunday April 28,) I went to Artevino/Maple Creek Winery, which was a favorite tasting of mine. Their wines are elegant and subtle. Owner Tom Rodrigues is also an artist, so I was able to see his many wine labels that he has created throughout the years. We journeyed up the road to view his Mangaleese or Mangalitsa pigs that were so sweet.
Handcrafted, artfully made, award winning Mendocino County wines. Artevino – Maple Creek Winery has 18 acres of estate varietals including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Flora and Symphony. These grapes thrive in the hot days and cool nights of the Yorkville Highland AVA growing in hillside clay, loam, and rocky soils. They compliment their estate grapes with Mendocino County Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon from long standing relationships with other local vineyards. These varietals burst with flavor as a result of the right varietal growing conditions, including the vineyards sustainable practices. The proximity of their vineyards to their onsite processing and storage facility ensures they control the process up until harvesting the final bottling. This is how Maple Creek creates these wonderfully rich and complex flavors of their boutique, low production, Maple Creek Wines located on Highway 128 between Yorkville and Boonville. Tom has quite the set-up, and I would highly recommend going to his winery as well. https://maplecreekwine.com/)
Just have to give a quick shout out to Julie for showing us just the best time in Anderson Valley possible, thanks Julie!!!
(I also went to her Farmers Market in Fort Bragg the next day, and got to meet a whole bunch of their lovely purveyors of fine Mendocino food and other products!)
Julies Trips and Tours
* Note some content was taken off of their websites.