When people head to Mendocino, most make a beeline for the coast. From botanical gardens and ocean-view hikes to train rides through the redwoods, it’s is a dream destination for nature lovers. But there are places along the road that are worth exploring, too.
In Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, low-key towns like Philo and Boonville offer something a little different, from cider tastings in an orchard to multi-course meals by former SHED chef Perry Hoffman. Here’s what not to miss on a visit.
Hendy Woods State Park
Mendocino County is home to a whopping 24 state parks. An ideal spot to stretch your legs, Hendy Woods State Park protects two redwood groves: Big Hendy Grove and Little Hendy Grove. Big Hendy Grove, which covers 80 acres, is the largest and most popular of the two and has a wheelchair-accessible trail.
18599 Philo Greenwood Road, Philo, 707-895-3141, parks.ca.gov
All cider tastings at Gowan’s in Philo are held outdoors in one of the family’s apple orchards. (Courtesy of Visit Mendocino)
Gowan’s Cider Tasting in the Orchard
Relax in the shade of century-old apple trees while tasting your way through a flight of Gowan’s ciders. The Gowan family has grown apples in Philo for six generations, since 1876. They started making ciders seven years ago and also operate the iconic Gowan’s Oak Tree Fruit Stand just down the road on Highway 128. The family uses a variety of heirloom apples, including Gravenstein, Macintosh and the rare Sierra Beauty, to craft a half-dozen ciders.
Tastings take place in the orchard, Friday through Monday. More opening days may be added later in the summer, so make sure to check the website. A flight of six ciders is $15. Reservations are preferred.
6320 Highway 128, Philo, 707-205-1545, gowansheirloomcider.com
Anderson Valley’s Roederer Estate is the California outpost of France’s family-run Louis Roederer champagne house. Toast to the winery’s 40th anniversary this year with a glass of bubbly — there’s also pinot noir and chardonnay on the tasting menu but it’s the sparkling wine that draws crowds. Since there are only a half-dozen tables on the winery terrace, reservations are recommended.
The Classic Sparkling Flight (Brut, Brut in Magnum, 2015 L’Ermitage Brut, Extra Dry) is $20; the 40th Anniversary Flight (Brut, Library Reserve, 2015 L’Ermitage Brut, 2003 L’Ermitage Late Disgorged Brust, 2013 L’Ermitage Brut Rosé) is $40.
4501 Highway 128, Philo, 707-895-2288, roedererestate.com
Foursight Wines is a true family affair: Husband and wife Bill and Nancy Charles grow the grapes while their daughter Kristy Charles and her husband, Joseph Webb, make the wine. Taste the family’s pinot noir, semillon and sauvignon blanc in the winery’s shaded backyard Friday through Monday.
Tastings ($20) typically include six to eight pours. Reservations are preferred; limited walk-in appointments are available.
14475 Highway 128, Boonville, 707-895-2889, foursightwines.com
If you only have time for one stop in Anderson Valley, make it Pennyroyal Farm. Guided tours of the creamery and vineyard include the farm’s solar-powered barn, where you will meet some of the most social goats around. Be prepared to make new friends — every goat has a name.
After the tour, a wine and cheese pairing ($30) is served on a patio overlooking the vineyards. Tours are offered 10:30 a.m. Thursday through Monday; reservations are required.
14930 Highway 128, Boonville, 800-956-8909, pennyroyalfarm.com
This casual wine and specialty food market, owned by fine wine and specialty food expert Wendy Lamer, serves up a combination of local and imported wines and artisan food, from tapas like piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese to smoked duck breast sliders with sour cherry jam. The wine list is extensive and circles the globe: from right around the corner in Anderson Valley to France’s Rhone region.
14025 Highway 128, Boonville, 707-901-5002, discoranch.com
Offspring Wood-Fired Pizza
The talented team at Boonville Hotel have added yet another delicious reason to spend time in their neighborhood: Offspring Pizza. Watch pizzas slide in and out of the wood-fired oven at this new restaurant, located across the street from the hotel in the Farrer Building.
On a typical day, you’ll find a handful of pizza options on the menu at Offspring. Open Tuesday through Sunday. BYOB.
14111 Highway 128, Boonville, 707-972-2655, offspringpizza.com
Make it a Weekend
If you’d like to spend the night, the rooms at Boonville Hotel are dreamy and Instagram-worthy. The hotel restaurant serves multi-course meals by Michelin-starred chef Perry Hoffman, formerly of Healdsburg SHED. A four-course prix fix menu ($68 per person) is served Thursday, Sunday and Monday. On Friday and Saturday, the menu consists of five courses and is $86 per person. Dinner menus for the week are posted every Wednesday on the hotel website. Save time to explore the hotel garden, which is also impressive. Rates start at $195.
14050 Highway 128, Boonville, 707-895-2210, boonvillehotel.com
The Madrones is another excellent place to rest your head in Anderson Valley. The Mediterranean-inspired resort has nine rooms. Its sister property, The Brambles, is located just next door and has another five rooms. Rates start at $250. The striking compound also boasts a restaurant, a pair of wine tasting rooms, an herbal apothecary and shopping.
9000 Highway 128, Philo, 707-895-2955, themadrones.com