If you can only visit one winery on your way to Mendocino, Navarro Vineyards is an excellent choice. For more than forty years they have been creating world-class wines in the Anderson Valley, and their unique distribution model allows them to keep prices low for consumers, while still offering top-notch quality.
The winery’s bustling tasting room will be both familiar and radically different to those used to Sonoma or Napa. While they have elegant tasting bars and a well-trained staff, tastings are free, and the energy is more country-friendly than corporate – in spite of the fact that the winery has grown to almost 40,000 cases per year, making it one of the largest in Anderson Valley, a region known primarily for small-production boutique wineries.
One of the biggest advantages of tasting at Navarro is the absolute breadth of their offerings. In a region that focuses almost exclusively on pinot noir, with most wineries offering one or two other varietals, Navarro produces nearly everything under the sun – and does it exceptionally well. Three pinot noirs, syrah, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, a red table wine, chardonnay, sparkling white (gewürztraminer no less!), sauvignon blanc, roussanne, pinot gris, muscat blanc, riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot grigio, edelzwicker, non-alcohol grape juice, ver jus, an assortment of dessert wines… the list goes on and on.
The grounds themselves are beautiful, and you’re welcome to purchase a bottle to sip on outside – perhaps enjoyed with local artisan cheeses produced by the daughter of the winery’s founder at nearby Pennyroyal Farms goat farmstead. If you’d like a more in-depth look at the property and what goes into the winemaking here, you can sign up for a free tour of the property, offered twice daily. These tours last about an hour, and give you an opportunity to walk the vineyards and explore the barrel rooms and bottling line.
While there may be ‘better’ stops for a single varietal in the Anderson Valley, there truly isn’t a better option to taste the breadth that Mendocino has to offer all under one roof. And because Navarro Vineyards exclusively distributes their own wines, the prices here are kept well below the regional average – offering up some of the most amazing deals in the area.