For pinot noir lovers, a visit to Burgundy is something of a bucket list trip. But for a pinot adventure that’s deliciously rewarding and very doable, consider the drive up to Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. Just 2.5 hours north of San Francisco, Anderson Valley has a cool climate and terrain that’s perfect for growing pinot noir.
If you’re lucky, you’ll time your visit to coincide with Winesong Charity Auction & Tasting in September or the late spring Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. After just a couple days in the country, you might find yourself discussing the nuances of fruit coming from particular vineyards or debating where the “Deep End” of the valley starts.
You’ll definitely taste all sorts of wonderful wines, often small-lot, single-vineyard ones that still haven’t been discovered by the masses. If you love the elegant pinot noirs from Drew Wines and the Anderson Valley bottlings by Copain Wines, then these are the wines you need to know about next:
BALO VINEYARDS -- Named for the sound a sheep makes in the historic slang of “Boontling,” this saucy winery opened its doors this past spring across the road from Drew Wines. That’s pretty convenient, as Jason Drew acts as the winemaker, crafting the BALO VINEYARDS Pinot Noir 2010 (Anderson Valley, CA) $39.95with an approachable balance of fruit and acidity.
COULOIR WINES -- After stints at Turley and PlumpJack, winemaker Jon Grant is devoted to making expressive vineyard-designated pinots with as little manipulation as possible. The COULOIR “Monument Tree” Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 (Anderson Valley, CA) $38 shows an exciting mixture of grace and depth.
KNEZ WINERY -- These wines seem lit from within, they’re so full of brightness and Anderson Valley perfume. A favorite is the KNEZ WINERY “Cerise” Pinot Noir 2009 (Anderson Valley, CA), $42 with its lovely aromas of roses, raspberries and earth.
WAITS-MAST -- Crafted by a couple who live in San Francisco, the Waits-Mast pinots have a deeper flavor range than others on this list, but they’re just as thrilling and layered. We adored the WAITS-MAST “Londer Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2010 (Anderson Valley, CA) $40, a deeply flavored and complex wine that tastes and smells of blackberries and violets.
What’s your favorite Anderson Valley pinot noir? Tell us below.
Photo Credit: Jim Fischer