Remember the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy is barefoot in a wooden vat engaging in a hilarious grape stomp-off with an Italian woman?
The 1956 episode humorously depicts the “old school” method of breaking the grape berries, so the juice, pulp, seeds, skins, and stems hang together for a while. Of course, it’s been some time since human feet crushed the grapes; it’s done by machine or hand tool today. However, the crush is still part of the wine grape harvest season and winemaking process.
How lucky can I be to have Anderson Valley (AV) as one of my neighbors? Kevin and I spent several days in Anderson Valley chatting with farmers, winemakers, chefs, cooks, and lodging hosts, learning what visitors will experience during crush and harvest. We were treated to wine tastings, shown how wine is made, and sampled fruits and vegetables. In addition, we were hosted for a food and wine pairing at Bewildered Pig. Touring accommodations were a real treat. AV has some enchanting places for you to stay while experiencing the crush.
Fall is a busy time at vineyards and wineries and one of the best times to visit. In AV, there are more than grapes being harvested. Vegetable, fruit, meat, and dairy harvests are also underway. So, it is the best time to visit. The wineries, farms, eateries, and lodging I’ve shared are by no means the only places to experience crush in America’s Greenest Wine Region, Mendocino County.
Best Anderson Valley Vineyards To Enjoy During Crush Season
“Anderson Valley, where the vineyards crash into the redwoods,” Randy Schock, winemaker at Handley Cellars, stated.
Sometimes called “the wine road to the Mendocino Coast,” AV is an extraordinary place during the California harvest season. With more than 30 tasting rooms, you’ll make many new wine friends.
These are some of the folks we chatted with, tasted, and toured while researching Anderson Valley crush and harvest.
1. Brashley Vineyards
One of the newest wineries in AV, Brashley Vineyards, has the distinction of being a bi-coastal winemaking group, with wineries in AV and the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
Stop by the beautiful tasting room to try their pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, and rosé. The tasting patio is lovely and comfortable, with a gorgeous mountain view. During our visit, Ashley and Bram Palm (winery owners) announced the addition of a chef to create light noshes and pairings of local produce for their single-vineyard-sourced wines.
2. Handley Cellars
Handley Cellars‘ legendary Milla Handley started her winery in 1982. She was the first female winemaker in Anderson Valley, and Handley was one of AV’s first wineries. With her passing in 2020, Lulu Handley, Milla’s daughter, continues her mother’s commitment to responsible organic farming.
When you stop into Handley during crush and harvest, you can sit on the beautiful tasting patio and watch the hustle and bustle surrounding the making of their wine. If he’s not too busy, winemaker, Randy Schock, will sit and chat. Customer comfort is one of his favorite jobs.
3. Lichen Estate
It was a cool morning. As I sat at one of the tasting tables in the garden, I heard quails calling back and forth to one another. The pastoral scene at Lichen Estate was made even more memorable by the sparkling wines I sampled.
The estate is managed organically, ensuring the vineyards flourish sustainably. Enjoy exceptional sparkling, white, and red pinots in the tasting garden or inside with a view of the cellar and its harvest and crush activities.
4. Roederer Estate
Roederer Estate is home to my favorite style of wine — sparkling. The award-winning wines are made from grapes grown in the 580-acre AV vineyard. Vintage bruts, roses, and estate blends are available for tasting and purchase.
The tour of Roederer is a not to miss experience. After learning all the details of making fine sparkling wine, spend time on the tasting patio. The nosh menu is outstanding and includes caviar among several traditional and seasonal sparkling wine companions. The Roederer chef makes everything to order.
Pro Tip: Reserve your tour online at their website.
5. SEAWOLF Wines
SEAWOLF Wines is the first winery open to the public that you’ll encounter when entering Anderson Valley from the south. This micro-batch winery makes small amounts of marvelous Zinfandels and other varietals. A husband and wife team makes two barrels or less of each varietal and blends from their dry-farmed vineyard.
Make this your first stop when you enter the valley. The vineyard has a spectacular vista across the tops of the California Coastal Range. Several comfy outside tasting areas are designed to take in the view. Also, check the website for music schedules on the stage overlooking AV’s outstanding scenery.
Pro Tip: Tastings are by reservation. Be sure to order the charcuterie board for your sipping session.
More Anderson Valley Attractions
6. Anderson Valley Brewing
Anderson Valley Brewing has been making ales and lagers in the valley for over thirty years. The tap room on Boonville Road in Booneville is a comfy place to try their hand-crafted beers. Also, enjoy Anderson Valley Brewing’s Beer Park. The thirty-acre family and dog-friendly park offer outside seating, disc golf, plus live music. The taproom and beer park are all-ages destinations. Harvest season temperatures will be perfect for sitting under a spectacular oak tree and sipping some of Anderson Valley’s best brew.
7. Gowans Cidery
A tasting room in an heirloom apple orchard. What place could be better for a flight of hard cider? Gowan’s Heirloom Cider is made from organic orchards established in 1876 by the Gowans. Since then, six generations have worked the land and harvested its bounty.
Gowan’s cider comes in a variety of styles. I loved the Spiced Apple. It is the perfect accompaniment to Gowan’s Apple Pie from their farm stand south of the tasting orchard.
Anderson Valley Farms
Farms grow more than wine grapes in Anderson Valley. During the fall harvest, the variety of fruit and vegetables available from farmstands and markets is a cornucopia. Anderson Valley has a long growing season of warm days and cool nights. Fruit and veg love it.
8. Booneville Farmers Market
Boonville Farmers Market is open Fridays from 4-6 p.m. at Laurens at the Buckhorn in Boonville. The lively market will be at its best during the harvest season. Fruit, veggies, flowers, herbs, honey, jam, jelly, and other homemade delights are on offer. In addition, there’s music to enjoy while filling your basket with goodies for a picnic.
9. Gowan’s Oak Tree
Gowans Oak Tree is a farm stand selling homegrown fruit and vegetables in the Anderson Valley. Opened in the 1930s selling apples, today, the stand overflows with 65 varieties of apples. You’ll also find peaches, pears, plums, and berries. In addition, produce from the 25-acre vegetable garden will fill your larder year round. Fruits and vegetables are available fresh, dried, and juiced. The apple pies are renowned, as well as the fresh-pressed apple juice.
10. Pennyroyal Farm
Home to goats, wine, and cheese, a visit to Penny Royal Farm is not to be missed at any time in AV. The farm tour is an engaging and tasty way to learn about goats and goat cheese. At the end of the tour, you’ll experience cheese and wine pairing — all from the farm’s goats and vineyards.
11. The Apple Farm
Stop at The Apple Farm for fresh fruit, veggies, jams, jellies, syrups, ciders, and loads of homegrown and homemade deliciousness for your larder. All the stand’s offerings are grown and processed on the farm.
Anderson Valley Restaurants
12. The Bewildered Pig
My mouth waters when I drive by The Bewildered Pig. Whether a meal, snack, or glass of local wine, you will return again and again to inhabit the old-world graciousness of hosts Janelle and Daniel (Papa Pig).
The food here is an intimate conversation between you, Janelle, and the garden out back. You can make a reservation for lunch, a fixed menu delight not to miss. In addition, you’ll find seasonal dinners on their website. Dining is available inside and out. The market in The Bewildered Pig has a selection of noshes, including fauxmage, a vegan cheese that puts all vegan cheeses to shame. Absolutely do not miss Janelle’s deviled eggs. They are outrageously decadent.
13. Disco Ranch
Don’t pass up Disco Ranch! This petite market and deli are packed with wine from local, domestic, and international wineries. There is something for all budgets and wine styles. In addition, Wendy Lamer, the genius behind this jewel box, has delightful small plates of good things to nosh on from around the globe. This is an excellent place to stop for a snack and to try a new wine. Wendy has a rare talent for finding just the right wine for her guests.
14. Laurens At The Buckhorn
Laurens at the Buckhorn in Boonville is home to one of the valley’s longstanding restaurants, Lauren’s. Local produce is used for everything on the menu. Lauren’s is my go-to for lunch when in Boonville. The drinks menu has a selection of local wine and beer. Lauren’s is a friendly place to meet and chat with locals. Enjoy indoor table, bar seating, or sit outside on the front porch or under the canopy in the side yard.
Beautiful Anderson Valley Accommodations
15. Boonville Hotel And Restaurant
The Boonville Hotel is a modern roadhouse. This beautifully eclectic lodging is welcoming, comfortable, and a unique AV experience. A full-service restaurant and bar will introduce you to local produce and libations. Located on Main Street (Highway 128) in Boonville.
The Madrones is a small boutique with guest quarters in Philo, AV. Beautifully appointed rooms are very private and surrounded by lovely gardens of native plants. The complex also includes a wine-tasting boutique and a restaurant. Located in Philo on Highway 128.
17. The Apple Farm Just Stay
The Apple Farm Just Stay cottages will immerse you deeply into farm life in Anderson Valley. Rustic luxury and eclectic furnishings make each cabin a special place. All are in an apple orchard. Located on Greenwood Road northwest of Philo.
Pro Tip: Many wineries and farms have guest lodging. Check with your favorite winery’s website or Airbnb (search Anderson Valley, California) for unique stays in AV.
Other Wine And Harvest Things To Do In The Area
Crush and harvest season have several annual celebrations. If you missed these, mark your calendar for next year and plan ahead.
- Harvest Tidrick: October 21-23, 2022, in Anderson Valley. Check the website for events.
- Taste Mendocino: November 5, 2022, in Ukiah at Barra of Mendocino. A sampling of Mendocino County wineries, eateries, and lodging. This is the event to choose if you only have a day in Mendocino County.
Anderson Valley is located on Highway 128 in Mendocino County. A car or cycle is necessary for visiting the valley. Santa Rosa, Charles M Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS) is the closest regional airport. San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento are international options.
Pro Tip: Some airlines that service Sonoma County Airport will ship your wine free.
Why Anderson Valley During Crush Season?
This lesser-known winemaking region is home to America’s greenest vineyards, wineries, and farms. Notoriously laid-back, Anderson Valley welcomes you as if you are family. The food grown and produced in AV is organic, wholesome, and delicious. Spend some time here during the September/October harvest and crush season, immersing in the bounty while sipping the sundown.
To learn more about Anderson Valley wineries, farms, restaurants, and lodging, visit Anderson Valley Wine Growers Association.
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