Day 12 Mendocino

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned licence plates lately. Yellowstone was kind of a big spoiler – we racked up every likely state and province in the parking lots there, and we haven’t seen anything new since. We are still missing some eastern states like Maine and New Hampshire, and of course we haven’t seen Hawaii or Nunavut, but pretty much everything else, we spotted a week ago.

It’s warm today, but not as hot as they were forecasting just yesterday, so instead of devoting the whole day to pool time in preparation for tomorrow’s longer drive, we dusted off our plan to visit wineries in Mendocino County.

We’ve had several days that started out with promise then failed to pan out. Today was the opposite. We set out to look for Bonterra, an organic vineyard that is a division of Fetzer (which is a division of Jack Daniels, they tell me). We did find it, despite it being hidden up about six miles of private road with few signs, but when we got there, it was deserted. We could hear the picking crews out harvesting on the nearest slope, but there didn’t seem to be a soul in the main building. We did open the glass doors, expecting to find perhaps an office person, and instead found ourselves in the abandoned tasting room. I took a picture and let myself out. Later we learned that they haven’t done public tastings for years.

Went back down to the main highway and pulled in at the first winery that had an ‘open’ sign. Learned from them that most of the wineries have small tasting rooms in Hopland, which is more accessible than the various wineries, which tend to be six miles up a hill on a private road. Hopland, (pop. 861) is tiny but quaint. We pulled over and parked at the curb, and went to investigate some tasting rooms. The first one was a single vineyard affair, but Richard pointed directed us to Sip! which carries almost all the county wines. This little wine store and tasting room was lovely: cool and quiet, and hosted by Bernadette Byrne. Never met a Bern I didn’t like! Security was not provided by Patty, a black lab. We tasted a few wines, and bought some of the Bonterra we were looking for, but the find of the day was a Chardonnay called Kimmel. Turns out that Gloria, who is around 85 years old, has been growing and selling grapes for ages, but her family prevailed on her to release a wine they made themselves. This is their first release, and Bernadette confessed to initially agreeing to stock it because she has known Gloria for 25 years or more. Turned out to be a good choice, the wine is complex and creamy in a region that usually strives for Chards that are fruity and clean. I don’t imagine it’s widely available, so I consider it a score. That’s why we visit wine country.

We ate lunch on Sip’s patio. You can see a picture of it at the website: http://www.sipmendocino.com/ We had a glass of wine each, mine was the Kimmel Chardonnay, Caroline’s was the Bink Pinot Noir, and shared our sandwiches with Patty. The experience was lovely, and we decided to quit while we were ahead. We drove back to Healdsburg and will spend the afternoon at the pool. Might do Mexican for supper.

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