Is it possible that it’s been nine years since I last visited Mendocino? The county and its namesake town just north of Sonoma County is known for its laid-back style and all-natural approach – it has the most certified organic vineyards in the country and the mantra of “go local” is woven into the landscape. For an upcoming trip during the Anderson Valley White Wine Weekend, I am planning three days in Philo in Anderson Valley and three days in Little River, just south of the coastal town of Mendocino.
Plan a Trip to Mendocino
My Mendocino adventure will begin in the Anderson Valley, a sub appellation of Mendocino revered for its restrained pinot noir and chardonnay. I’m taking my family so booked rooms at Indian Creek Inn where the rooms are big, shared kitchen and living room spaces offer ample space to spread out (and even meet other families) and the grounds not only host a bocce court but have open, grassy spaces for throwing a baseball or playing a game of one-on-one soccer. Plus, it is close enough to the Wine Weekend events (within a few miles), that I won’t spend the entire weekend driving around.
Anderson Valley Restaurants & Wineries
The Anderson Valley stretches 15 miles through the heart of the county along Highway 128 and I’m planning to group the first part of my trip around the hubs of Philo and Boonville on the eastern side of the valley. My first stop for the weekend will be Pennyroyal Farm in Boonville. I was smitten with their goat cheese on my last visit, and the sheep and goat dairy makes fresh and aged cheeses that are worth seeking out for their fresh, not cloying flavors and essence of Mendocino in each bite. Though some Pennyroyal cheeses can be found at regional restaurants, many of their cheeses, wines, and other products (pork rillettes!) are only available from their farm.
Saturday and Sunday will be packed with special tastings and events at area wineries. I’ll be heading to Handley Cellars, Twomey Cellars, Long Meadow Ranch Winery and Lichen Estate. With our White Wine Weekend Passport, my hope is to satiate my husband, Stefan’s, insatiable pinot noir longings while I get to try a more expansive range of the region’s flavors.
The Bewildered Pig (market open 12-5-ish) is our first must-try for dinner while chef Perry Hoffman’s Boonville Hotel restaurant is my other must (it’s been on my wish list for years). After years of eating out with me (I never let them order from the kids’ menu), my children are not finicky eaters. I might let them off the “fancy dinner” hook after two days of winery tastings and have them make their own meal with provisions from Lemon’s Market.
Mendocino Coast Restaurants
The second half of the trip will take me to the Little River Inn. We are planning a half-day canoe trip (weather permitting) and another half-day on the golf links behind the Inn. Dinners at SIBO at Elk Cove Inn and Little River Inn look approachable and delicious. Since our dinner at Little River Inn is on Mardi Gras, I’m hoping for a little Creole and Cajun pizzazz with our meal. Would a jazz band and after drinks in the Inn’s Whale Watch bar even be possible?