Press Facts

Mendocino WineGrower Inc (MWI)
(707) 901-7629

Mendocino County - It Doesn't Get Any Greener

Mendocino County’s authentic “green” credentials are unsurpassed by any other wine region in the world. The region is dominated by family farmers, many of whom have lived for two or more generations on their land—some tracing their roots to the first settlers in the 1850s.  The entire farming community has a rare appreciation of the connection between man and earth. These farmers, grape growers and winemakers among them, were at the forefront of the sustainable, organic, Demeter certified Biodynamic®, and Fish Friendly farming movement long before it gained the attention of the general population. “America’s Greenest Wine Region” is not a marketing slogan: it is the true reflection of all that this vast and varied county offers those who seek healthy foods and beverages and accessible yet pristine travel destinations.

Green Acres

Mendocino County is home to 550 vineyards with an average size of 30 acres.

28% of Mendocino County’s winegrapes are certified organic or Biodynamic ‐‐ substantially higher than any other region in the United States. In fact, 1/3 of the total organic winegrape acreage in California is in Mendocino County.

An additional 3,500 acres (across 58 vineyards) are certified through the Fish Friendly Program.  Within the county, there is currently a higher enrollment in this program than any other green certification. It is interesting to note that many Mendocino winegrowers not only certify their vineyards but include the wilderness lands that they own.  In this way the Fish Friendly program protects vast reaches of wilderness adjacent to the vineyards.

Key Facts:

  • 690  acres of vineyard are Demeter Certified Biodynamic®
  • 3950 acres of vineyard are certified organic (24% of total wine grape acreage)
  • 50,600 acres of land are certified Fish Friendly. Mendocino County is #1 in America in terms of wilderness acres FFF certified relative to vineyard land.


A Winemaking Tradition

Winemaking has a long history in Mendocino County since the first Italian immigrants settled the green hillsides. Today 91 local wineries continue the tradition. (Over one hundred additional wineries make Mendocino wine outside the County.)

Organic pioneers have found Mendocino to be a natural fit for their passion. The first organic winery in the U.S. -- Frey Vineyards -- was  founded in 1980. Frey advanced another first in 1996 when they became the first  producer of US biodynamic wine. Bonterra Vineyards is the larger producer of organic wine in the nation. And Parducci Wine Cellars was the first US winery to be certified carbon neutral.

Mendocino has also been a solar center for the winemaking world. The region includes the first solar-powered winery (McDowell Valley Vineyards), a 100% off-grid winery  (Philo Ridge Vineyards), and the wine industry’s largest solar array, generating 1.1 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity annually and supplying 80% of the winery’s electricity needs (Fetzer Vineyards)

Back to Our Acres

Mendocino County encompasses a total area of 2.4 million acres, of which 16,471 acres have been planted to grapevines. Vineyards account for about 0.6% of the land use in the county, reminding us that much of the region is rugged and unspoiled.

The diversity of the county leads to numerous winegrowing appellations, each denoting a distinct region with its own winegrowing characteristics. Several of these regions have been recognized as American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) see below

AVA Approved Land Area Vineyards

  Approved Total Land Vineyard Total
Anderson Valley Sept 1983 58,532 acres 2,050.5 acres
Cole Ranch May 1983 187 acres 60 acres
Covelo March 2006 4,563.2 acres 2 acres
Dos Rios Nov 2005 15,500 acres 6 acres
McDowell Valley Feb 1987 2,225 acres 540 acres
Mendocino AVA July 1984 327,430 acres 136.8 acres*
Mendocino Ridge Dec 1997 87,466 acres 75 acres
Potter Valley Nov 1983 28,805 acres 1,906.2 acres
Redwood Valley Feb 1997 32,046 acres 2,590 acres
Yorkville Highlands June 1998 40,000 acres 401 acre

(Vineyard acreage from 2008 Mendocino County Crop Report)

Red grapes represent a majority of the Mendocino grape acreage. Pinot Noir (2672 acres), Cabernet (2613), Zinfandel (1945), Merlot (1546) and Syrah (697) are the most commonly planted red varietals.

White grape plantings total 6348 acres. Chardonnay is the most common (4840 acres) followed by Sauvignon Blanc (722 acres).

In addition to winegrapes, Mendocino is also home to orchards (pears and apples) and several hundred arces of organic vegtables and flowers.  Sheep, cattle, buffalo and lammas graze on 371,000 acres of pasture.