Most of the weather we had on our trip to California was perfect; sun, heat, blue skies, all ideal for sitting outside tasting wine with new friends, going for walks, and enjoying lingering dinners. The last day and a half of our trip wasn’t so summery, but luckily Sonoma, Mendocino, and their respective coastlines shine whether the weather (ha) is sunny or stormy. In fact, the storms just made the natural beauty that much more spectacular.
We left our hotel in Healdsburg on a sunny and warm-ish Monday morning, headed into Healdsburg plaza to get some coffee at the delicious Flying Goat Coffee, and then went to visit my favorite wine dog and his owner for a chance to taste some of their wine. More on that later.
After our tasting, we decided to head North to Mendocino County for some wine tasting in the Anderson Valley.
Note: Once you leave the Healdsburg area, gas stations are not easy to find. Fill ‘er up when you can before heading into the mountains. We were just about empty when we finally rolled into a gas station, holding our breaths and hoping the car didn’t die on the very winding, hilly, and remote roads.
Once the car was full and we could relax again, we made our first wine tasting stop at Scharffenberger Cellars. Yep, same Scharffenberger. First he made some delicious California sparkling wine in one of the most gorgeous places I have visited and then went on to create Scharffenberger Chocolate. And in doing a few Google searches on founder John Scharffenberfer, it seems like he has had a lot more food projects up his sleeve including making tofu and jamon Iberico.
I somewhat expected the Scharffenberger tasting room to be fancy and grand, more like Domaine Carneros, but the Anderson Valley is not like that at all. Instead, it’s a little rustic, understated, cozy, and just lovely.
We decided to each do a tasting of Scharffenberger’s sparkling wines. The tasting fee? Just $3 a person. I most loved the Brut Rosé; I love a wine that reminds me of the color of the ballet slippers of my childhood. It was rich but light with strawberry flavors, easy to sip and left me wanting more. The Scharffenberger Brut was also really enjoyable, creamy and toasty. The wines at Scharffenberger are a great value, and as an added bonus, you can enjoy some of the art exhibited in their tasting room.
Our next stop was right up the road and was the reason we had decided to drive North in the first place. Roederer Estate is the first California sparkling wine to be produced by French Champagne house Louis Roederer. As I have had both Roederer sparkling wine and Champagne, I was incredibly excited to visit this tasting room. Again, the winery and tasting room fit perfectly into its surroundings; Roederer is understated and a bit different than its sister in Champagne.
Again we decided to each do a tasting (as opposed to splitting one, which is perfectly acceptable and offered by most, if not all, tasting rooms)
You can’t go wrong with a Roederer bubbly, but I fell in love with L’Ermitage. As the tasting notes say, it exhibits notes of “tarte tatin”; there is a buttery richness to the wine but also nice apple flavors and acidity, and of course lots and lots of consistent, tiny bubbles.
We were slightly less impressed with the tasting room service; we got a little bit of attitude which kind of disappointed us. It was a long drive up to Roederer, and in hindsight we may have stopped along the way to visit the many other wineries in the area instead. That aside, I will always love my Roederer bubbly.
Our accommodations for that evening had us driving toward the coast. Along the way we were reminded once again why we love Northern California.
We drove through forests of redwoods so thick that the daylight was completely blocked, opening the car windows to hear the quiet and to smell the damp, fresh, and mossy air.
We drove through forests for miles, and then the road started to turn, and we eventually saw this. Forest makes way for rocky coastlines and crashing waves. Again, despite the chill in the air, we opened the windows for the sounds and smells.
We made our way to Timber Cove, where we slept with the balcony door open. We didn’t need a fan or noise machine that night; the sound of the waves and the rain were enough of a lullaby to send me off to a deep slumber.
Do you have a preference between traveling to the mountains/forests or to the beach?
Generally I choose the beach, but you can’t go wrong with a place that has both, side-by-side!