Wineries Promote Isolated Anderson Valley

Mendocino's hidden Pinot Noir source gets organized

by Paul Franson
anderson valley ava
Anderson Valley, Calif.—It’s not often that much news originates from sleepy Anderson Valley in California’s Mendocino County, but this week, there’s a flood.

To start, four tasting room/wineries have formed the Wineries of Downtown Boonville to promote both local wines and the town. The name is a bit tongue in cheek, as anyone knows who has visited the hamlet: Downtown Boonville is about two blocks long. The four wineries are Foursight Wines (1,000-cases), Londer Vineyards (5,000 cases), Philo Ridge Vineyards (2,200 cases) and Zina Hyde Cunningham, a brand of 30,000-case Ledson Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma Valley.

“We wanted to highlight Boonville,” says Joe Webb, general manager of Londer. “Ten years ago, all the wineries were north (west) of Philo, and now most of the activity is south of there.”

He says the group’s aim is to promote the arts, restaurants and shopping in the tiny town in addition to its wineries, and to show the public that there’s plenty to justify the drive from the Bay Area or Sacramento. Webb notes that the Boonville Hotel now offers a series of classes in subjects such as winemaking, pottery, beer-making and arts; and it’s opened an organic ice-cream stand across the street.

The group has produced a map for a “Fratty Pike,” meaning “Wine Walk” in Boontling—the peculiar, made-up language once widely spoken in Anderson Valley. The town also hosts yearly Pinot Noir and Alsace varieties festivals, as well as the popular Sierra Nevada Music Festival.

The group has a Facebook page (facebook.com/BoonvilleWineries) and twitter hashtag (#boontwine). Consumers can visit all four wineries for a chance to win wine from these producers. For a copy of the map and more information, email Kristy Charles at Foursight Wines at kristy@foursightwines.com.

Charles, president of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association, says business has been good in her company’s new tasting room. “We don’t sell through distributors, so we didn’t experience any slump like many wineries did.” She acknowledges that it hasn’t been the easiest economy, but says hopefully, “Things are feeling better.”

Tasting rooms proliferate

These four aren’t the only tasting rooms in Anderson Valley. In all, 24 are now open to the public with regular hours or by appointment in the long cool valley near the Pacific Coast.

Five new tasting rooms opened during the past few years, the majority for established wineries—Bink Wines (1,200 cases), Philo Ridge Vineyards and Drew Wines (2,000 cases), along with several newer efforts including Lula Cellars (1,000 cases) and Berridge Wine Co., (500 cases). A number of the new tasting rooms share a building near Duckhorn’s 20,000-case Goldeneye Vineyards.

Several tasting rooms have, however, closed in the past year and a half, including Breggo Cellars’ second tasting room in the town of Mendocino, which once housed Fetzer and other wineries, and Jim Ball Vineyard’s Philo tasting room.

Anderson Valley vineyard census

Meanwhile, the new Anderson Valley vineyard census of the 2010 harvest shows 2,244 bearing acres in 17 different varieties in 85 vineyard properties, slightly up from 2,153 bearing acres in 2007.

More than half of the acreage planted in the appellation is Pinot Noir; 45% of the total acreage is certified by Fish-Friendly Farming. Planted acreage has increased by 91 acres since the last census in 2006.

• Pinot Noir acreage is 1,453 acres on 76 properties, up 255 acres from 1197 acres in 2007.

• Chardonnay acreage is now 500 acres on 28 properties, down from 593 acres on 38 properties in 2007.

• Gewürztraminer acreage is 85 acres on 13 properties, surprisingly down 37 acres since 2007: It’s one of the valley’s a signature varieties.

Other red grapes grown include Merlot, Zinfandel and Syrah. Other white grapes grown are Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
Twenty-four vineyard owners have TTB permits to produce wine.

Ingredient labeling
In other news from Anderson Valley, Foursight Wines has become the first winery there to label a wine with ingredients (grapes and sulfur dioxide). It is also one of the first in the country to include a statement stating that one of its wines is suitable for vegetarian and vegan wine drinkers: It is now fined without animal products. These attributes are listed on the Foursight 2010 estate Sémillon. 

For more information about the appellation and area visit avwines.com.


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