Anderson Valley Wine Trail is an undiscovered area of the massive California’s wine country that is our family’s all-time favorite wine trail. I say undiscovered because where else in California can one go for wine tasting where the only other customers are another couple? At Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. What makes Anderson Valley so special is that it is a treat for the entire family – kids and adults.
Honestly, my kids don’t like going to wine country – the mention of the word wine-tasting conjures up images of adults enjoying vino while the kids are twiddling their thumbs and rolling their eyes in boredom. But over the years we have taught the kids from a very young age to enjoy the nature that is so beautiful and bountiful in wine country. Wine country is a sensory experience that can be enjoyed whether one drinks wine or not.
You don’t have to drink wine to enjoy Napa, Sonoma, or Anderson Valley. The scenery itself in these regions are bountiful and gorgeous. Vineyards dripping with grapes, beautiful lush gardens with wineries each a work of architecture with no two alike.
At least that’s what we try to teach the kids, and though they drag their legs when we head to wine country, once they are there – the kids get immersed in appreciating nature. Many times I see them wandering in the gardens and vineyards taking pictures and excitedly showing each other a plant here or a tree there. It’s so gratifying when I see their appreciation of nature.
Look at these grapes that we saw on our recent fall trip to Kendall Jackson in Sonoma Wine country. These grapes were black as black can be and sweet as sweet can be!
These pale green grapes were just as sweet.
My sell-job to get the kids excited to go to wine country over our Thanksgiving weekend was telling them that we were heading to Anderson Valley. The kids really like Anderson Valley – I know! It seems hard to believe! But let me explain why this wine trail is so uniquely family-friendly. The wineries are small, the vintners friendly, some wineries have play structures for the kids, and some wineries even have dogs wandering in the tasting room.
The best reason for the kids to like Anderson Valley? There are two wineries on this trail that give tastings of locally grown and bottled grape juice. Believe me when I say that the grape juice is like nothing you have had! Lovely fruity aroma, beautiful color, and the taste – my gosh – you can taste the pure sweet fruity flavor of grapes like nothing else we have had. Even adults can’t get enough of this grape juice! Who wants wine when grape juice tastes this good?
Anderson Valley is on the way to the quaint tourist town of Mendocino on the Pacific Coast driving from Sonoma Wine Country. Otherwise known as Hwy 128, the wineries on Anderson Valley are dotted all through the drive to Mendocino. Getting to this valley is a bit tricky as the first half of Hwy 128 for about 30 -40 minutes is an awful winding road over the mountains that makes even the person with the toughest stomach feel nauseated. That’s why some of the wineries actually have ginger chews! But if you can brave that patch of winding road, you get to the part of Hwy 128 that is a straight road and full of quaint wineries.
Wine is like art in my opinion, very subjective, what tastes good to one person tastes average to another. So rather than tell you how good the wine is at the wineries in Anderson Valley, let me tell you what makes the wine tasting experience fun at these wineries. Here is a look at a few of our favorite stops on Anderson Valley and why we like them.
Maple Creek Winery with Artevino Wine
We love Maple Creek Winery for it understated wine tasting room, the funniest most engaging owner Tom, and his two dogs!
If you are fortunate to have Tom the owner do the pouring at the tasting room, then his dogs are there too. Tom is a huge baseball fan, so guess what he named his two dogs? Buster and Posey – get it? They are named after the famous baseball player Buster Posey 😃.
Another bonus at this winery is that Tom is an artist and in this little tasting room hang beautiful artwork all painted by him. He even created the labels on his Artevino wine bottles.
Tom is also one of the funniest guys you will meet. Full of humor and wit, he makes wine tasting FUN!
Now for their wine. Artevino wine is solid good wine. We liked it all, but my elder daughter Sri and my favorite wine was this sweet dessert wine called Nectar of the Goddess! Deliciously sweet and seductive this wine is.
Of course, the nature here is just spectacular too. But let’s be honest, it’s the dogs the reason the kids like Maple Creek.
Of all the wineries on Anderson Wine Trail, Husch Vineyards is our favorite. Their wine is outstanding and for the quality of wine they have here, their prices could be so much more. We pretty much liked every single wine we tasted.
This is a humble establishment with a quaint little tasting room that has been in that same structure for over 35 years.
The tasting room is so charming that part of the fun at Husch is wine tasting in their rustic little barn house.
Husch also has by far THE BEST WHITE GRAPE JUICE! The grape juice sold at Husch comes from their local vineyard and it is delicious! The moment you get that glass of grape juice you can smell the fruity sweet aroma of gewürztraminer grapes that is just heavenly. We bought six bottles of their grape juice and would have bought more, except we wanted to save space for wine too. 🍷😀
Navarro Vineyards is the big dog on this wine trail. They are by far the largest winery here. With over 20 wines for the tasting, wine tasting here can be overwhelming. And to be honest their wine is average BUT we love this winery for its gorgeous scenery and the main reason we stop here? For their white and red grape juice tasting. Kids love getting a grape juice tasting in fancy wine glasses here!
Roeder specializes in sparkling wine otherwise also known as champagne. Roeder’s sparkling wines are so affordable for the high quality wine you get here. We love this winery. The only wine tasting offered here is for sparkling wine and locally made Pinot Noir. We loved everything we tasted at Roeder. The pinot noir was esepecially delicious. The scenery is just as spectacular too.
Goldeneye is the sister winery of the famed Duckhorn Winery of Napa Valley. Looking for a relaxed sit-down wine-tasting experience with a wide selection of pinot noirs, this is the winery for you. Spectacular scenery, relaxing experience, with solid good wine.
Other Cool Finds on Anderson Valley Wine Trail.
Great Port: If you like port, Meyer Cellars in Anderson Valley has some of the best California style port around.
California Cuisine. Want to stop for a bite with California style farm fresh ingredients? Take a break at Booneville General Store and Cafe in Booneville for a hearty and healthy meal that will surely satisfy.
We had a roasted veggie sandwich and tomato soup that were delecious 😋.
Love Pottery? Definitely stop by Pepperwood Pottery for a look at a wide variety of pottery made by local potter Doug. He has been making pottery for over 45 years. He started off as hardware engineer in the Bay Area, then decided to follow his passion for pottery, was a pottery teacher for special-needs kids in Philo, and then decided to open his pottery studio right on Anderson Valley. Stop by and take a look and you may even see Doug there. My twin girls who take pottery classes got to ask him questions about his techniques and pottery style.
Gowan’s Oak Tree Farm.
Looking to take home farm-fresh fruits? Stop by Gowans Oak Tree Farm Stand. Anything from apples, oranges, apple cider, local honey, jams, nuts, to vegetables can be purchased here.
With over ten varieties of locally grown apples it’s hard to decide which ones to purchase 🍎🍏🍎.
We got to chatting with the young gentleman at the farm stand and he explained that his granparents started the apple farm in Anderson Valley over 75 years ago and it has been passed down generation after generation. He did share the trials and tribulations of having a small artisanal farm and trying to compete with the large mass-produced apple farms around. But as he put it “We somehow manage. We sell a lot to Bay Area tourists who stop by on their way to Mendocino. And we sell a lot of our apples at local farmer’s markets and some at local grocery stores.” Farmers definitely are an un-sung group of heroes for all the work they put into producing such wonderful produce.
Wandering what all these ribbons are for? We found out that the local farmers in the region have annual competitions for the best tasting fruit, the largest crops, new farming-techniques, the best farm of the year, etc. These ribbons have been awarded to Gowan’s Oak Tree Farm for various accolades over the decades.
Another tidbit we found out is that where you don’t see vineyards on Hwy 128, the rest are acres and acres of apple orchards! Hwy 128 is covered in apple orchards.
Anderson Valley Wine Trail
For a wonderful detour from the usually crowded, high-priced Napa and Sonoma Wine Country head to Anderson Valley for a low-key family friendly wine-tasting experience with outstanding wine to boot. The wineries are open year-round except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
For more informaton on the wineries on Anderson Valley Wine Trail take a look at these links. Uncork the perfect weekend in Anderson Valley Hwy 128 Wine Road Anderson Valley Wineries – Wine Country Getaways