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Anderson Valley Wineries And Wines

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Anderson Valley Wineries are increasing gaining renown for producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Located in Mendocino County within 30 miles of the Pacific Ocean, the cool Anderson Valley AVA is apporoximately 15 miles long and a mile or two wide.

Because of geographical isolation, most Anderson Valley Wineries have never seen explosive growth, and retain much of their rustic charm. I recently visited the area and really enjoyed the people and wines. The staff at the tasting rooms were friendly, helpful, and quite talkative. It is a great break from the tourist epicenters of Napa and Sonoma. I particularly liked Navarro, Handley, Echo, and Roederer Estate.

History

The Anderson Valley is named after Walter Anderson who discovered the land in 1851 after getting separated from his hunting party. The Pomo Indians lived here for centuries, and prior to Anderson, had no contact with Europeans.

Some dedicated settlers were attracted to this beautiful land in the mid-nineteenth century. However, the area remainded so isolated that its own dialect actually developed. “Boontling” has over 1300 distinct words and was created by the locals of the town of Boonville in the Anderson Valley.

The first grapes were planted in the Anderson Valley in the mid-nineteenth century by Swiss and Italian immigrants. A small industry soon developed with several Anderson Valley Wineries catering to a local market.

Prohibition hit the region particularly hard and many Anderson Valley Wineries shut down forever. Hard times continued as the Italian Swiss Company launched a failed endeavor to grow warm-weather varietals for their jug wines in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the 1960s Dr. Donald Edmeades realized that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were well-suited to the cool weather. The Anderson Valley began to gain distinction and was granted AVA status in 1983.

Anderson Valley Wineries And Wines

Anderson Valley Wineries continue to improve at producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and sparkling wine in the methode champenoise. The Pacific Echo 1996 Blanc de Blancs is one of my favorite sparkling wines from the New World. It is well-balanced with enough acidity to make it refreshing without any hint of astringency.

Terroir

The Anderson Valley AVA is one of the coolest wine growing regions in the state of California. Because of the cool and generally steady temperatures, many Anderson Valley Wineries and growers harvest a full month later than the majority of California vintners. The soils in the AVA is primarily alluvial with a substantial amount of clay.

The climate within the Anderson Valley is not entirely consistant, and the northern tip of the valley can be as much as 10 degrees cooler than areas in the southeast. This is due to the northwest’s exposure to fog from the Pacific Ocean via the Navarro River.

The northwestern cooler parts of the AVA are perfect for growing acidic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for sparkling wines. As mentioned earlier, I recently visited several Anderson Valley Wineries and was extremely impressed with the Roederer Estate NV Rose. It is a little fruitier than the typical blanc de blancs or blanc de noir. The approachability of this wine makes it great for celebrations and parties.

As you move slightly more southeast the weather gets a bit warmer. This area excels at producing still versions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Pacific Echo NV Cremant is an interesting hybrid of sparkling and still Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It is a mildly effervescent wine with a little bit of residual sugar. I had never tasted this style of wine before, but it really agreed with me.

Anderson Valley Wineries, Wines, and Varietals

Other than Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the many many nooks and crannies of the Anderson Valley has allowed for limited success with White Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, and Merlot.

A few Anderson Valley Wineries even produce Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. Additionally, I tasted a few outstanding sweet Gewurztraminers infected with “noble rot”. The region’s Winegrowers Association has additional information on Anderson Valley Wineries including, Navarro, Handley, and Edmeades Winery to name a few.