A Sparkling Wine Tasting Tour of Mendocino County
In a region most famous for pinot noirs and zinfandels, a crop of bubblies sparkles among the rest. Pictured here: Pennyroyal Farms' blanc de noir. (Ramon Jimenez)

A Sparkling Wine Tasting Tour of Mendocino County

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This year's wine harvest in California has been underway since the end of July, an almost unprecedented early start date thanks to a hotter-than-average season leading to a quicker ripening of grapes across wine growing counties.

Among the earliest varieties picked were the grapes destined for sparkling wines. In Mendocino County, that means thin-skinned varieties like chardonnay and pinot noir just starting to ripen, allowing for enough acidity through the winemaking process to produce a flute-full of irresistible bubbles.


When you have a taste for something bubbly, here's where to sip sparkling wines from Anderson Valley to Hopland.

Where to Taste Sparkling Wine in Mendocino County

Roederer Estate's brut rosé.

(Ramon Jimenez)

Roederer Estate

The California outpost of Champagne Louis Roederer since 1982, this 580-acre Anderson Valley vineyard and sparkling wine estate is a household name. Enjoy sweeping valley views from the outdoor patio, and see if you can point out the differences in the brut wine poured from a standard 750-milliliter bottle and a magnum. The signature sparkling wine tasting lasts 45 minutes and takes you through their classic brut, brut rosé, library reserve brut, and then ends with a taste of the extra dry, which is only available in the tasting room. Pair your bubbles with deviled eggs and oysters from their Nosh Menu. //Tastings are $20-$40/person and are offered daily 11am to 5pm, reservations required; 4501 CA-128 (Philo); roedererestate.com.

Toulouse Vineyards

Follow the sign with the signature goose mascot up a steep driveway to a sweet little tasting room with an outdoor deck and a wooded valley view below. Owners Vern and Maxine Boltz planted 21 acres of vines in the region and produced their first wines here in 2002 using sustainable farming practices. While Toulouse is best known for that Anderson Valley star pinot noir (and, in our humble opinion, they're making the best pinots in the valley), assistant winemaker Rita Vodopals is having fun with Goose Bubbles, a sparkling blanc de noir aged on the lees for five years. This bubbly makes a terrific Champagne cocktail, little surprise since Vodopals also has a thing for aperitifs—ask to try her delicate chamomile-infused vermouth and the amaro made from the estate pinot. // Open daily for outdoor tastings by appointment via email toulousevineyards@yahoo.com or phone 707-895-2828; 8001 CA -128 (Philo); toulousevineyards.com.

Lichen Estate

With just seven acres of pinot gris and pinot noir vineyards, this all-organic estate run by Doug Stewart produces some memorable, small-batch sparkling wines. The 2017 blanc de gris is 100 percent pinot gris, bright and full of nectarine and stony minerality, while the 2017 blanc de noir is classically nutty. The wines are lovely, and even more so when you can look directly at the vineyard while sipping them. If you want to linger longer, book their cute Craftsman cottage or Airstream accommodations via Airbnb. // Tastings are $25 per person, available daily with reservations; 11001 County Road 151 (Boonville); lichenestate.com.

Maggy Hawk

This well-regarded winery sits on a beautifully manicured property with fountains and bocce ball—just the kind of vibe that makes us want to sip wine and hang out all day. Since 2017, winemaker Sarah Wuethrich has been bringing a very hands-on approach to the label's northern Anderson Valley vineyards. In addition to Maggy Hawk's lineup of signature pinot noirs, Wuethrich's brand--new 2021 Pet-Nat uses grapes intended for their popular still white pinot noir and bursts with juicy apricot, almond, and Asian pear. // Open for tastings ($25 per person) Thursday through Monday by reservation and walk-ins when available;9001 CA-128 (Philo), maggyhawk.com.

Pennyroyal Farm

Because sparkling wines are often best paired with cheese, make the most of your experience at Pennyroyal Farm, a regenerative goat and sheep farm that doubles as a winery. Pennyroyal's wine tasting flight includes their 2018 Brut Rosé made from 100 percent pinot noir, a pretty number that is subtly pink and full of apple and hazelnut flavors. Their farmstead cheeses, made onsite in the creamery by Erika McKenzie-Chapter, appear in the flight as well, and you will definitely want to take home a chunk of the aged Boont Corners Reserve Tommes (perfect with the bubbly) or the super gooey Velvet Sister. // Tastings are $25 per person Thursdays through Mondays by reservation and walk-ins when available; 14930 CA-128 (Boonville), pennyroyalfarm.com.

Terra Savia Winery & Olive Mill

If you plan a visit in August, you can catch the annual Mendocino Sparkling Wine Festival held at Terra Savia, a 25-acre certified organic property that produces both estate olive oil and unique sparkling wines via sustainable farming practices. Try the crisp 2010 Blanc de Blancs and the very unique 2014 Brut Rouge, made from 100 percent merlot and full of berry notes. // Open daily 10am to 5pm; for appointments, email mktevents@terrasavia.com or call 707-744-1114; 14160 Mountain House Rd. (Hopland), terrasavia.com.

Golden Pig Wine Shop

Once you've tasted your way through Mendo and know what you like, shop for more at this well-curated wine retailer across the street from Hopland's Thatcher Hotel. Proprietor Julie Golden helms a proud suite of local businesses, including two biodynamic farms and a solid restaurant (the Golden Pig) a few doors down. The wine shop stocks mostly local bottles, with a big emphasis on Coro labels, zinfandel blends produced in collaboration with several area wineries. In addition to carrying many of the local sparkling wines you've been tasting, they also have some interesting finds like a surprisingly delicious pineapple bubbly from Maui, a Sho Chiku Bai Mio sparkling sake, and even a non-alcoholic bubbly. Order up generous tastings and rotating by-the-glass selections. // Open 11am to 6pm Wednesday through Sunday; 13420 CA-101 (Hopland), sipmendocino.com.

Where to Stay + Eat on Mendocino's Sparkling Wine Trail

Chef Perry Hoffman in the kitchen at Boonville Hotel.

(Ramon Jimenez)

Boonville + Philo

While the small neighboring towns of Boonville and Philo have abundant wine (and food options), your choice of stays is a bit more limited. We love The Madrones(9000 CA-128, Philo), an eclectic little compound with just nine guest quarters in an English garden setting. Each room is stylishly designed with plush bedding and amenities including kitchenettes and balconies. You also enjoy the adjacent boutiques, tasting rooms, a restaurant, and even a cannabis-centric apothecary. Whether you're staying here or not, you'll enjoy a Mediterranean-style lunch or dinner in the courtyard at Wickson Restaurant(open on weekends). // The Madrones' younger next-door sister, Brambles, has five cozy cabins with "Victorian-meets-industrial steampunk" vibes. // Boonville Hotel(14050 CA-128, Boonville) is a “modern roadhouse” with 17 funky rooms each with its own unique decor and amenities. You may opt for a spacious room with a wet bar and a balcony with a hammock in the main house; a creekside pet-friendly cottage with a screened-in sun porch; or a new second-story "tower" room with a deck overlooking the garden. Wherever you crash, have a meal in the restaurant (open Thursday through Monday, reservations recommended) where chef Perry Hoffman serves a four- to five-course prix-fixe dinner using locally sourced ingredients in dishes like a shaved apple salad with Pennyroyal goat cheese. // In downtown Boonville, Offspring(14111 CA-128) slings legit wood-fired pies like a carbonara or a smoky tomato with fior di latte mozzarella, plus some great sides all to be enjoyed at picnic tables in the backyard. After, go next door to Paysanne, the sister scoop shop and bakery, for a seasonal cone.

Hopland

There are comfy beds, custom furniture, a lavish library, and cushy nooks and crannies to be found at the 1890s Thatcher Hotel(13401 CA-101), where palpable love has been put into the restoration of the historic, copper-steepled hotel. Modern touches include a swimming pool and the onsite Bar Thatcher which serves a killer cocktail when you get tired of wine. // At nearby Campovida—the multi-hyphenate business that includes a vineyard and events venue, Stock Farm(13441 CA-101) is a great spot for dinner with a menu centering around the wood-burning pizza oven and salads like the standout radicchio with dates, gorgonzola, and polenta fries. Campovida's Cuvee Brut is suitable for your thematic visit, but you can also opt for any number of wines and local beers on tap.


While you're in the region, make a whole trip of it with our modern guides to Mendocino County and Hopland.

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