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  Mendocino     [all categories]
  Mendocino - Wineries to Visit
  Mendocino Review - Great Wine

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Author Topic:   Mendocino Review - Great Wine
posted 01-30-2006 12:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for withoutZin     Edit/Delete Message
After spending 4 days in Mendocino, I was generally impressed. One key factor was the weather. It can be very unpredictable in January, but we had clear skies almost all the time and the views were wonderful. We managed to try a few wineries while there, mostly in the Anderson Valley.

After having been to Napa and Sonoma last year (we live in FL), I wasn't sure what to expect in Mendocino. What we found was that the wine was just as good (generally), at lower prices, and the wineries were very quaint and personable. If you enjoy intimate settings, mom & pop wineries, and good prices - this is it.

The star of the trip was ESTERLINA in Anderson Valley. They greeted us and took us in with no reservation (required for all wineries off the main route). We were shown to a deck overlooking the acres of vines and the valley below. Our host brought us out home-made snacks right from the oven inside the house. He was a charming guy and we talked liked we were next door neighbors or something. He warned us that he was a little "heavy handed" on his tastings. He said, that's just the way he does it - you need enough to look, smell, and taste. He don't know how anyone can enjoy their wine from only a few drops in the bottom of the glass.

We sat there for about 1 1/2 hours talking, drinking some of the most incredible wine I ever had and snacking. Come to find out, our host was the Owner - Maurio Sterling. It was just an awesome experience - not to be missed.

We made a pit-stop in MAPLE CREEK winery on Rt. 128 on our way to Mendocino. We had never heard of it before, but what a treat. The winemaker was very friendly and really seemd to enjoy talking to people and pouring. Some excellent picks in there also.

Also, a top pick was CLAUDIA SPRINGS. The had a special release/ grand openging at a steel buiding along Rt. 128. A no-frills setting like most, but awesome wines and the people were very friendly. They had 6 Zins (for all you Zin lovers), Pinots Gris and Noir, and a few others.

On the way back to SF Airport, we crossed over from Rt. 128 via Rt. 253 (an almost sickening thrill ride with sharp curves over steep mountains) to get to Rt. 1. In Hopland, we stopped at the MCNAB RIDGE tasting room. Great wine here to. A great Pinotage, Zin and others. Definitely a return stop.

Others of Note:

Yorkville - cozy, good prices, and some good selections including a surprisingly good Semillon.

Navarro - A few good selections, but the biggest crowds of the trip (but nothing compared to Napa).

McDowell - Another stop in Hopland. Had a couple of good selections of Syrahs and a very good Port.

Nelson - On Rt. 1. Freindly, new winery with a nice Cab that we picked up. Other selections were pretty good.

Pacific Star - north of Ft. Bragg, but worth it for the view. It's right on top of one of the huge ocean bluffs. Wine was good. Staff was just OK.

Handley - Good wine. Some very reasonable. Interesting "Africa" theme in the tasting room.

Goldeneye - Reminicient of the formal tasting rooms at Napa. Seemed a bit out of place in Mendocino. Wines were good, but not superior to what we got elsewhere. Felt a bit "stuffy".

All in all, a really nice trip. If you like good wine at reasonable prices and friendly people without all the "status" this is your place.


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