Barra of Mendocino
Barra is an important historical touchstone. Founder Charlie Barra was growing winegrapes in Mendocino County decades before that was fashionable. Viticulture is organic. The wines, including a Coro Mendocino, represent the range of varieties which can thrive in the Redwood Valley AVA, from Pinot Blanc to Petite Sirah.
Jason Drew makes Pinot Noir and Syrah which are true to the Anderson Valley and Mendocino Ridge vineyards from which they come. Their Albariño, also from Mendocino Ridge, is one of California’s best.
Goldeneye is Anderson Valley’s best-known, most widely distributed Pinot Noir. The wines are a benchmark for the full-flavored approach to that variety in the region.
With more than 100 years of grape growing in Mendocino County, Graziano represents the region’s heritage and, particularly, the Italian accent early wines there had. They have three estate vineyards in different areas of eastern Mendocino County, one of which is the original from 1918. Among their specialties are Italian varietal wines, such as Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, and Vermentino.
A small, focused producer, Halcon Vineyards makes excellent red Rhone-varietal wines from their estate vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands AVA. Halcon is emblematic of the AVA and, with its organic farming, of Mendocino County as a whole. Perched at 2,500 feet (762 meters), the vineyard shows the coolest aspects of Yorkville Highlands’ personality.
For nearly 40 years, family-owned Handley has produced benchmark Pinot Noir and aromatic whites from Anderson Valley. The Pinot Noir represents the mid-range of Anderson Valley styles, with rich, ripe fruit, made with minimal intervention and moderate oak.
The first bonded winery in Anderson Valley still makes very representative wines from the AVA, especially aromatic whites. Husch also owns vineyards in eastern Mendocino County, and makes representative wines from that area as well, including good Cabernet Sauvignon.
The driving force behind establishment of the Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA, Masut remains its most important producer. Masut also represents Mendocino County history, being founded, and operated by members of the Fetzer family. The wines are among the best representatives of Pinot Noir from warmish areas in Mendocino County.
This winery represents the poise and beauty of Anderson Valley’s cooler reaches. The Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer are all expressive and wonderfully well balanced.
The producer that put Anderson Valley on the map for sparkling wine is still among the absolute best traditional method producers in the country. Crisp and dry, these wines show off the AVA’s cool climate.