If you haven’t visited Anderson Valley yet, in Mendocino County, you are missing a magical wine region of California. About an hour’s drive north of the Sonoma State University campus (and 2 hours north of San Francisco) you will enter the enchanting Anderson Valley. It is filled with rolling vineyards tucked into the hillsides and hollows of the valley, with many charming small family wineries. Legendary for their highly rated pinot noir and chardonnay, the cooler climate of the Anderson Valley also sets itself apart by being one of the only wine regions in California to specialize in white Alsatian varietals such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris.
Anderson Valley has nearly 30 wineries now, with some very famous names such as Goldeneye, Esterlina, Lazy Creek and Foursight (co-operated by one of SSU’s wine grads, Joe Webb). However one of the most well known is Navarro Vineyards and Winery. Jim Greaves, sales manager at Navarro, was kind enough to make the trip to SSU to share Navarro wines with the 40 Millennials who attended the most recent campus Wine Club meeting. They tasted through a variety of rieslings, gewurtztraminers, chardonnays and pinot noirs – including the Navarro Select Late Harvest Riesling Dessert Wine.
In the end it was the Burgundian wines that triumphed with the Millennials selecting the pinot noir and chardonnay as their favorites. Navarro’s 2006 Pinot Noir is a light fruit forward pinot with plenty of raspberry, strawberry, spice and a pleasing acidity. It was also a Gold Medal winner, and a great value at only $19. The 2006 Navarro Chardonnay, another Gold Medal winner, is a dry white wine with notes of honey and pineapple; and a great value at only $10.
I’ve personally visited Navarro on 3 different occasions and have always been impressed with the relaxed friendly atmosphere and the high quality of the wines at reasonable prices. Another unique aspect of Navarro is the fact that they make grape juice from their wine grapes and sell it in wine bottles. My 9 year old daughter fell in love with their gewürztraminer grape juice and begged me to buy a bottle for her. She felt very proud having her own wine bottle at the Thanksgiving table that year. For more information on Navarro wines, visit http://www.navarrowine.com/main.php