A Visit to the Anderson Valley
Appellation America has covered Anderson Valley for years with extensive Best of Appellation panel reviews and stories on the great regional diversity of the wines of this valley. In a change of look we chronicled simple exploration of the valley to experience the wine country charms offered.
July 13, 2012
Appellation America is headquartered in one of the most enticing wine regions of the world. Only an hour removed from San Francisco, our world renowned wines, stunning vistas, and world class restaurants attract visitors from around the world. The Napa Valley draws you in with its beauty and bids you stay.
But we are only one of many fine wine regions within a days drive of the city by the bay and this week I decided to visit one of my favorite appellations, the Anderson Valley, in Mendocino County which is home to ten American Viticulture Areas (AVAs). This cool region, about 10 miles, as the crow flies from, the Pacific Ocean, is the home of soulful pinot noirs, bracing whites, and vibrant sparkling wines. We drove Hwy 128 from Calistoga to Healdsburg through Knights Valley and Alexander Valley (nice wines here too!) and on to Cloverdale. This is about a two hour drive, as is the drive from the Golden Gate Bridge. From Cloverdale, Highway 128 weaves and curls 26 miles and about 45 minutes up the hill to Boonville, the sleepy headquarters of the region.
This “downtown” is about 3 blocks long and is anchored by the very charming 15 room Boonville Hotel. We had lunch and picked up picnic supplies from The Mosswood Market and The Boonville General Store , drank a local beer, and headed off to taste wine and explore this remote and quietly beautiful region.
Over 20 wineries are located in the 15 or so miles separating Boonville from the ocean. Elevations in the Anderson Valley range from sea level to 2500 feet. While cool marine air helps maintain average year round temperature of 53 degrees, be prepared that it can occasionally vary 40 to 50 degrees in a day. Summers near the ocean are cool with frequent fog while further inland temperatures can reach up to 100 degrees. This climate is ideal for pinot noir and the Alsace-type wines for which the region is also well known. Cool evenings and marine fog keep acid development in the grapes in line with sugar and flavor formation during long indian summer days up until harvest.
This is followed by three Pinot Noirs. The Goldeneye , 100 percent pinot noir sourced from four estate vineyards, is full bodied yet silky and bright and loaded with raspberries on both the nose and the palate. It has an intriguing undercurrent of earthiness and spice which will be coaxed out with some aging. This is followed by two single vineyard examples. The Gowan Creek Vineyard is influenced by both warmth and coastal fog. The wine is dense yet silky with notes of dark berries, earth, and spice.
The construction we witnessed is the new tasting room and offices. The tasting room will have an outdoor deck overlooking the Anderson Valley and we cannot wait to return to taste these elegant wines again. After a walk through the vineyards, a look at his work in progress, a 1950 GM truck restoration, and gasping at the size of the Manzanita trees, we bid goodbye to the Anderson Valley and headed home.