Get Your Tickets For The 16th Annual Anderson Valley White Wine Weekend Now
It’s one of the best, yet still under-the-radar wine events in California. While the Anderson Valley, a Mendocino County wine-growing region just north of Sonoma County — about a two-hour drive from the Bay Area, give or take — is deservedly famous for its Pinot Noir, its location also makes it ideal for growing cool-climate white wine grapes. The annual Anderson Valley White Wine Weekend is the best opportunity all year to try the wide range of offerings out of this AVA, with 30 tasting rooms open in the valley.
I love the structure and setup of this festival, which doesn’t have guests waiting in line at tents to taste. Instead, once you buy a ticket, you can reserve up to four hour-long tastings each day at wineries of your choice. (You can book in groups up to parties of eight.) And each winery hosting guests presents its own spin on hospitality, with some serving food pairings, others offering library or comparison tastings, and a few with bocce courts, which seems to be the new-old trend in Napa and Sonoma, too.
Last year was my first time visiting in the new format, which began as a creative response to the pandemic, as it allows for crowd and capacity control, but I predict the model will stick long into the future because it also offers guests a richer experience, more time to talk with the winemakers, and — an added benefit — a chance to chat with guests hanging out at other tables. I learned a lot about why certain folks were longtime fans of various wineries, as well as what drew in newcomers. Most people I encountered had been coming to White Wine Weekend for at least several years running, so a kind of collective knowledge base became apparent. It’s a wonderful thing to see so many informed wine lovers gathered together at various wineries.
As you meander through your itinerary, you’ll quickly learn what your own preferences and inclinations are. My favorites among this year’s list are Handley Cellars, Maggy Hawk, Longmeadow Ranch, Brashley Vineyards, Baxter, Roederer Estate, Bee Hunter, Pennyroyal, and Scharffenberger. Myself, I’ll be looking to visit wineries I don’t know as well.
As far as lodging and dining go, it’s imperative to make your reservations well in advance — this bucolic destination can’t really accommodate big influxes of visitors, but there are some excellent choices if you can secure them. The Madrones (and sister property, The Brambles), The Boonville Hotel, and The Apple Farm are all top choices. And there’s more great food along this tiny stretch of highway than seems possible (still, advance reservations are a must), with The Bewildered Pig, The Boonville Hotel Restaurant, and Wickson at the top of the list. For lunch or a quick bite any time of day, don’t miss The Disco Ranch. Owner Wendy Lamer is an expert in local (and European) wines, and her tapas bar with wines by the glass is a must. The well-stocked shop carries local wines that are too small to have tasting rooms, so you can carry back hyper-local bottles your friends might not have even heard of, some of which are, by the way, among the best of the region.
This event always sells out, so get your tickets as soon as possible: Anderson Valley White Wine Weekend