Mendocino Wine Column

Norgard Farms

“Intuition and observation are a big part of farming,” says Tim Norgard, a hands-on farmer with 100 acres of pears and 130 acres of grapes on three ranches in Ukiah Valley. He has just come in from working outside on a hot afternoon. His wife Alexis, ... more »

Husch Vineyards

Having just reread what I wrote in 1997 about Husch Vineyards in my book “Mendocino: the Ultimate Winery Guide,” I could easily cut and paste it right into this column--with a few additions. Still demure and understated with a reliable reputation for ... more »

Chiarito Vineyard

I won’t say that John Chiarito should have been born in another time or place, even though he could have been. When I met Chiarito (pronounced kee-a-ree-tow) at his winery in Talmage, I was immediately struck by love of the best of the old Italian ways.... more »

Wiley Vineyards, Anderson Valley

Wiley Vineyards: Honoring land and history ... more »

Professional Wine Service Certificate Program

“From Traci Dutton's detailed and flawless service techniques to John Buechsenstein's technical knowledge of all things wine to the fun and very informative tasting exercise with Chef John Ash..."... more »

Hopland Passport

In addition to tasting wine with roots in France and Italy, wood-fired pizza, tri-tip and lamb sliders, exquisite finger foods...... more »

Trinafour Cellars

Paying homage to his Scottish ancestry, Alex MacGregor launched Trinafour Cellars. Echoing that tribute, he makes his wine with...... more »

Dempel Ranch Vineyards

When I met him at his Hopland vineyard off Highway 101, six workers were clipping long canes from Gewurztraminer vines and bundling them in groups of 100 “sticks”. Known as bud wood...... more »

Cold Creek Ranch: The Guntly Story

“We had 65 acres of Zinfandel and Carignane and a block of Golden Chasseslas, a grape you don’t see much of anymore,” says the mild mannered Guntly...... more »

Lula Cellars: Living the Dream

In 2002 Jeff Hansen discovered a vineyard that produces extraordinary Pinot Noir grapes a dozen miles from the Mendocino coast. He decided it was time to realize a long-held dream...... more »

Germain-Robin: World Class Brandy

Germain-Robin brandy is produced in the same way as French cognac. Out of respect to French law, we don’t call it cognac in the U.S. because it isn’t made in Cognac. However Germain-Robin’s reputation...... more »

Masut Vineyard and Winery

Continuing their Mendocino family’s winemaking tradition is so important to Jacob and Benjamin Fetzer they added the words “third generation” to their Masut wine label and their business cards.
Their grandfather Barney Fetzer was one of Mendocino C... more »

Testa Ranch

Preserving a Name and Legacy... more »

Milovina Vineyards

Surrounded by their manicured fish friendly farmed vineyards, a grove of mature and young olive trees, a compound of historic homes and farm buildings set against the western hills north of Hopland, the Milovina family...... more »

Wine and Mushroooms

Going Wild... more »

Albertina Wine Cellars- Hopland, CA

The gate was open when I arrived at Zmarzly Family Vineyards, home of Albertina Wine Cellars, five miles up the mountain just west of Hopland. Inside the gate I noticed two deer munching grass and looking nonplussed as I...... more »

Barra of Mendocino

Writing about Charlie and Martha Barra of Barra of Mendocino and Redwood Valley Cellars (and Vineyards) is seasoned with possibilities. Their contributions to the community are many, their stories plentiful, and their history in the Mendocino wine industr... more »

Baxter Winery

Two black and white magpies flit between the fence posts as I drive up the gravel driveway to Baxter Winery on Greenwood Ridge. The setting on this knoll is rustic and beautiful, with a stunning view of Signal Ridge and the last withering wisps of the lig... more »

Bells Echo

Like the homesteading Italians in the 1880s and the back-to-the-landers of the 1970s Lisa and Ron Sutton were drawn by the beauty of Mendocino County, the fresh air, acres to hike and bike and making a living from the land. Unlike their earlier counterpar... more »

Bink Wines

Two miles up the mountain northwest of Yorkville a magnificent Douglas fir tree shades a couple of lawn chairs. Hawk’s Butte rises behind. Seven acres of merlot and syrah vines green the golden hillside and encircle a pond below. The fir trees are nesti... more »

Breggo Cellars

“An advantage of being new,” says Douglas Stewart, winemaking proprietor of Breggo Cellars, “is you get to look at thirty years of winemaking history in Anderson Valley.”... more »

Brutocao Cellars

The Brutocao family brings a sampling of the Italian lifestyle to Mendocino County. From the St. Mark’s Square (in Venice) lion on their wine label to their tasting room, restaurant and bocce courts, la dolce vita is what I found at Brutocao Cellars in ... more »

Butow Vineyards

Don and Judye Butow are in the twilight years of managing the vineyard which has been in the Butow family since 1946. Located on East Road in Redwood Valley, the vineyard is in the process of changing hands from one family’s legacy of hard work, communi... more »

Cesar Toxqui

Four years ago Cesar Toxqui, who was born in Mexico, and Ruth Andres Toxqui, from the Philippines, set in motion their dream to make small quantities of food friendly “Heirloom” wines and ultimately a destination in which to enjoy it all. They bottled... more »

Chase Vineyards

Leroy and Mary Louise Chase represent many long time farmers, not only in Mendocino County but throughout California's wine country. Grape growers who do it all themselves while working other jobs and raising kids, the Chases also give back regularly to t... more »

Claudia Springs

A turkey ran beside the fence as I made my way up the gravel road to Claudia Springs Winery in Anderson Valley. It was trying to get over to its flock which was milling among the vines.... more »

Cole Bailey Vineyards

It might seem that a winery which uses a name spoofing the use of long pompous words isn’t serious. When you learn that one of the winery’s owners was the prototype for the character Otter in the movie classic Animal House you might think the winery i... more »

Coro Mendocino

Eight years ago a group of Mendocino winemakers challenged themselves to create for the world a wine derived from Mendocino’s wine heritage, individual diversity and best grape varieties. These veteran winemakers with decades of experience created Coro ... more »

DeMuth Winery

One of the best little wineries you probably never heard of sits 1600 feet on a south facing ridge above Anderson Valley. Part of the old Rickert sheep ranch belongs to Lyn and Chris Demuth (pronounced dee-mooth). The Demuths purchased 185 acres of the ra... more »

DnA Vineyards

He was a back-to-the-land hippie. She was destined for a life in medicine like her father, siblings, and relatives. He has a passion for growing things and a talented sense of taste. She has curiosity and an aptitude for business. He developed over the la... more »

Drew Family Vineyards

Walking through the apple orchard with Molly Drew on a balmy coastal day to see where the new vineyard will be planted, I was reminded of my own family’s arrival on the Mendocino coast in 1975. It felt reassuring (and a little nostalgic) to see the next... more »

Eaglepoint Ranch

One of the most beautiful ranches and vineyards in Mendocino County straddles 1255 acres 1800 feet above Ukiah Valley. Casey Hartlip has been the caretaker of Eaglepoint Ranch up Mill Creek Road since the 1970s. He is one of the most respected grapegrower... more »

Elke Vineyards

Mary Elke is one of those people who immediately makes you feel comfortable. Tan from working outdoors, her graying hair pulled back, dressed in casual shirt and pants, she’s sitting at a picnic table outside her small winery building at one of her vine... more »

Esterlina Vineyards

With vineyards in Anderson Valley, on the Boonville Road and in Sonoma County, and a relatively short tenure in the wine industry, a family of four talented sons, father and mother, are producing highly acclaimed award winning wines.... more »

Ferrington Vineyard

A long eared jack rabbit merrily munches on the cover crop in the vineyard and hops ahead of my car along the graveled road at Ferrington Vineyards. The pruned vines stand dormant between a profusion of brilliant golden mustard and bright greens planted a... more »

Fetzer Vineyards

Fetzer Vineyards’ contributions to making Mendocino County “America’s Greenest Wine Region” are innumerable and impressive. Let’s start with their latest accolade. Just last week Fetzer was recognized for the second time in five years with the G... more »

Foursight Wines

Past and present mix with timeless ease at Foursight Vineyards where four generations of the Charles family have lived and made their living in the middle of Boonville. From logging to grapegrowing each has built upon the love and the possibilities of the... more »

Frey Vineyards

The Frey family in Redwood Valley lives by and enriches the tenets of organic and biodynamic at their winery and ranch on Tomki Road. Four generations of the family live on the ranch and work in the family business. This includes most of the twelve childr... more »

Giuseppe Wines

The first time I saw the label on Nonno Giuseppe Zinfandel at the Bottle Shop in Ukiah I bought a bottle. Straightforward die-cut with a simple gold border, it features the photograph of an appealing Italian gentleman with a distinctive white mustache. It... more »

Golden Vineyards

“Our vines, their (Mendocino) wines” is how Julie and Joe Golden approach their biodynamic, organic and fish friendly vineyard venture. Located at the top of the keyhole of Yokayo Valley, the Golden’s Heart Arrow Ranch more than complies with the re... more »


Anderson Valley’s renown for Pinot Noir has developed over thirty years, most intensely in the last decade or so. In future columns we’ll meet some of those who contributed to the history of Pinot Noir in the valley. Today it’s about Goldeneye, whic... more »

Greenwood Ridge

Before describing Greenwood Ridge tasting room’s Frank Lloyd Wright inspired architecture, their wines, the wine can collection, the line of screwcap bottles, the silkscreened labels and the annual Wine Tasting Championships, the operating word here is ... more »

Hildreth Ranch Vineyards & Orchards

In the 1850s the Hildreth and Standley families came to Mendocino County. Today Mike Hildreth, his wife Susan, and son Joe and wife Lindsay carry on the family’s farming legacy which has continued for five generations in Ukiah Valley.... more »

Gibsons’ Hillside Vineyards

Above their Hillside Vineyards Norma and Morgan Gibson’s Mediterranean-ranch style home is filled with the warmth and coziness of family photos, a cookie jar collection and Norma’s paintings. Their vineyards located on the Talmage Bench grow some of t... more »

Hopland Passport

As the grape harvest winds down, Hopland’s wineries celebrate with their semi-annual Hopland Passport next weekend on October 24 and 25. Fourteen wineries showcasing wines made from Italian, Burgundian, Rhone and Bordeaux varietals add food, music, bocc... more »

Jaxon Keys

Jaxon Keys may be one of Mendocino County’s newest wineries but its new winemaker Fred Nickel brings a wealth of local experience. Although Nickel has been at Jaxon Keys for just three months his tenure in the wine industry spans the last three decades ... more »

Jeriko Estate

Jeriko Estate’s Mediterranean villa on the west side of Highway 101 north of Hopland pulls me in with its adobe colored walls, red tiled roofs, and graceful archways. Artist, architect, and youngest son of Mendocino’s winegrowing Fetzer clan, Daniel F... more »

Lazy Creek Vineyards

Falling in love with Lazy Creek is as easy as driving through the front gate, say new owners Don and Rhonda Carano (echoing the sentiment expressed by the previous owners Josh and MaryBeth Chandler). “It’s the place I fantasize retiring,” says one L... more »

LeVin Winery & Vineyards

He's a singer songwriter and trained classical musician. She's a graphic artist related to Gumby. Together they make award winning wines. ... more »

Londer Vineyards

When Larry and Shirlee Londer decided to make a midlife move into winemaking they developed a business plan. They soon discovered that the best plans can be sidelined by unexpected circumstances.... more »

Magnanimus Wine Group

To Owsley Brown III, Mendocino County is the “root on the ancestral tree of green winemaking.” Mendocino’s leadership in organic, biodynamic and sustainable winegrowing ignited Brown when he first came to the county.... more »

Maple Creek Winery

Art and wine are the main inspirations at Maple Creek Winery, home of Artevino and Maple Creek brands. You’ll also find baseball, western chic and a love of food blended into the tastefully rustic Maple Creek Winery off Highway 128 near Yorkville. Propr... more »

Mariah Vineyards

To get a perspective of Mariah Vineyards location you have to drive over the hills toward the coast. When billowy cotton puffs of fog fill up the valleys, the coastal mountain peaks jut up like islands, just like--as the Mendocino Ridge appellation is nic... more »

McDowell Valley Vineyards

Take an old Mendocino County vineyard in a beautiful valley, overlay a commitment to sustainability, merge two longtime Mendocino grape growing families, and blend southern French wine grapes with a horseback riding vintner. The result is McDowell Valley ... more »

McFadden Vineyard & Farm

Guinness McFadden, with both an understated presence and commanding charisma, has combined his business sense with a penchant for anticipating trends in the California food, wine and energy scene for nearly forty years. As the proprietor of McFadden Farm ... more »

McNab Ridge Winery

Rich Parducci, grandson of Mendocino County’s winemaking patriarch John Parducci, takes the reins of the family legacy with his own style. Rich Parducci is confident, unassuming and absolutely at ease carrying on in his grandfather’s footsteps.... more »

Meyer Family Cellars

Around one of the bends on curvy Highway 128 between Yorkville and Boonville an inviting oasis appears. Located on the riverbank between the Mendocino Coast and Highway 101 Meyer Family Cellars is a refreshing wayside stop (especially with kids who are in... more »

Milano Family Winery

Located in one of Mendocino County’s remaining authentic hop kilns, Milano Family Winery is worth a visit to see the historic structure, to meet the vivacious nurse turned winemaker, the techie inventor of wine business software, to picnic next to gia... more »

Nelson Family Vineyards

An old wagon wheel hangs over the newly stuccoed fireplace in the Nelson Family Vineyards tasting room. Redwoods planted in 1933 shade a dance floor built last year. Vineyards next to the popular strawberry stand on Highway 101 just south of Ukiah. are on... more »

Pacific Star Winery

Pacific Star is the only winery California perched on bluffs above the ocean. Twelve miles north of Fort Bragg the magnificent location of winemaker Sally's Ottoson's business and home on the Mendocino Coast is worth the trip. Besides its proximity to lap... more »

Parducci Wine Cellars

Mendocino County’s oldest winery is now also its greenest. As the first carbon neutral winery in the country Parducci Wine Cellars combines a reverence for the historic with a commitment to minimizing their impact on the environment. And it is a multi f... more »

Patianna Organic Vineyards

At Patianna Organic Vineyards along Old River Road north of old Hopland biodiversity is apparent at first sight. Chickens scratch between grape vines. Goats nibble in riparian borders. Owl boxes mark remains of pesky rodents. Lush compost piles will enric... more »

Paul Dolan: Rooted and Visionary

Rooted is the first word that comes to mind when describing Paul Dolan. As a fourth generation winemaker his family “roots” are part of California’s wine history. His business philosophy is laid out in his book “True to Our Roots.” His organic a... more »


The classy wine label includes design elements that understatedly allude to the people and stories behind Pettrone Family Cellar, one of Mendocino’s smallest wineries. Three birds, Tuscan terra cotta colored lines on cream paper, and a tiny block encaps... more »

Phillips Hill

Phillips Hill Estates’ tasting room, located between Lemon’s Market and Libby’s Restaurant, in downtown Philo has a charming allure. Stepping inside is worth the stop. The former real estate office with the blooming clematis covered porch has been t... more »

Philo Ridge Vineyards

Whether pouring at a wine tasting or working in the vineyards, Fred Buonanno wears Hawaiian shirts and khaki shorts. He and his energetic winemaking wife Heather McKelvey moved from high tech jobs in the Bay Area to start a winery and live off the grid in... more »

Poor Family Vineyards

“You won’t find much change since you were last here,” offered John Poor Jr. when I phoned to make an appointment for an interview. He is one of four generations who live on the Poor family ranch in Hopland. The last time I made the beautiful drive ... more »

Oster Wine Cellars

Love, wine, music, family and birthright weave into the story of Oster Wine Cellars. This quintessentially Redwood Valley story begins with Teresa and Ken Oster, who were raised in Redwood Valley, met in kindergarten in Redwood Valley, and now own vineyar... more »

Rack & Riddle

With a tasting room open only by appointment and a winery set up to handle a million gallons of custom made sparkling and still wine, Rack & Riddle fills a niche in the wine world. Custom crush services range from crushing the grapes, fermentation and bar... more »


“Viognier is great with turkey,” says Jason McConnell, winemaker and co-owner with his wife Suzanne Jahnke-McConnell of RIVINO, one of Mendocino County’s newest wineries. Grown at Schrader Ranch Vineyard between Highway 101 and the Russian River “... more »

Roderick Vineyards

Arriving at Dennis and Marty Roderick’s I step into the kitchen of their charming cottage-like home at lunchtime. Dennis and his crew, long time vineyard specialist Pancho Ibarra and 19-year-old grandson Remy Martin are sitting around the table. Bowls o... more »

Roederer Estate

Roederer Estate, nestled into the hillside along Highway 128 in Anderson Valley produces, sparkling wine and is unmistakably French. From its parent company to the winemakers who have been on board since Roederer came to Mendocino County, Roederer Estate ... more »

Rosati Family Winery

When Mario Rosati purchased an old cattle ranch in southern Mendocino County south of Hopland in 1980, he never dreamed he would be in the wine business. However, when given budwood from one of the world’s most renowned Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards, Mar... more »

Rosati Family Winery

When Mario Rosati purchased an old cattle ranch in southern Mendocino County south of Hopland in 1980, he never dreamed he would be in the wine business. However, when given budwood from one of the world’s most renowned Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards, Mar... more »

Scharffenberger Cellars

Scharffenberger Brut has been my house California sparkling wine since the winery was founded in 1981. When John Scharffenberger started his winery in Anderson Valley, he had the foresight and talent to put his winemaking skills into “method champenoise... more »

Silversmith Vineyards

“Piece by piece, bottle by bottle, case by case,” is how Tom Johnson describes building Silversmith Winery and his tasting room in Redwood Valley. Tom and Debbie Johnson are both longtime lawyers in Ukiah. Tom oversees the vineyards and production. De... more »

Simaine Cellars

The first time I tasted Simaine Cellars wines was at the grand opening of West Side Renaissance Market in Ukiah. Winemaker Victor Simon was pouring exceptional Zinfandel, Syrah and Sangiovese. We first met ten years ago at Whaler Vineyard where I had an o... more »

McGourty’s Spirit Canyon Vineyard

Glenn McGourty has a reputation in Mendocino County. As a resource for growers, the wine industry and academia, his advice and expertise are often quoted. He is the University of California’s Winegrowing and Plant Science Advisor and there’s isn’t a... more »

Standish Wine Company

Apples, pears and grapes, family orchards and vineyards interweave the Oswald family’s 100 year old presence in Mendocino County. Throw in a little history that dates to the Mayflower and the story of Standish winery unfolds like the quilt thrown over t... more »

Terra Savia

“I’m the wine guy, she is the olive gal,” begins Jim Milone. He and Yvonne Hall are sitting at the handmade redwood slab picnic table inside the vast wine tasting/olive oil pressing warehouse on the south end of Hopland that is home to Terra Savia w... more »

Toulouse Vineyards

Toulouse wines sport a stately goose on their labels. A hilarious goose illustration on the sign at the end of the driveway just north of Philo in Anderson Valley is a conversation starter in the tasting room at Toulouse Vineyards. Down home and friendly ... more »

Venturi Vineyards

Between the mid-1800s and the 1940s many Italian immigrants whose descendants still live in Mendocino County arrived and planted grapes. Among them in the Calpella-Redwood Valley area were the families of Larry and Doreen Venturi. Today, their traditional... more »

Yorkville Cellars

Organic vineyards and a focus on the grape varietals of the famed French winemaking region of Bordeaux are at the center of Yorkville Cellars. As “the most awarded estate winery with certified organically grown grapes,” according to published records,... more »

Zina Hyde Cunningham

If you haven’t driven through Boonville lately, it’s time for a field trip. New buildings, old buildings with fresh paint and enticing facades, art galleries, an upscale “farm” store, the Hotel, and some good places to eat and taste wine line Boon... more »