There’s much to delight in Philo, from ancient redwoods to world-class wineries and cuisine. Its location at the western end of scenic Anderson Valley creates a unique climate, with the silvery fog from the Pacific cooling the vineyards in the evenings and golden sunshine bathing the vines during the day. The vineyards nestle under rolling hills dotted with deep pools of shade from distinctively twisted live oaks.
At the Madrones, you’ll find carefully curated tasting rooms showcasing family owned and operated wineries like Drew and Smith Story, as well as locally sourced cuisine at Wickson, a down to earth restaurant with an impressive pedigree behind it. The Mediterranean-inspired courtyard, with its pretty landscaping and shaded arcades, invites you to linger and makes you feel like you’re in Tuscany.
Despite the town’s diminutive size (official population 349), Philo boasts a wide variety of wineries and tasting rooms. Anderson Valley is known for its pinot noir, and there is a wide spectrum to enjoy here: the bold, fruit forward Goldeneye, the refined Baxter, and the balanced, biodynamic Domaine Anderson. If you’re more of a white wine drinker, try the sparklers at Roederer or the buttery chardonnay at Navarro. Whatever you choose, there is something to please every palate.
Head to Hendy Woods for a ramble among the redwoods, enjoying the soaring, cathedral-like beauty of the primeval trees and the sparkling waters of the Navarro River which flows beside the grove. Bring a picnic from Lemons Philo Market, which has a well-stocked deli and fresh local seafood from the nearby coast.
No visit to Philo is complete without a stop at Gowan’s Oak Tree, where nearly a century ago, the Gowan family matriarch would sell apples from the family orchards under a big oak tree beside the road. The oak tree is still there, as is the original farm stand, built in the 1950s and added onto over the years, and you can still buy apples from the family orchard, along with other seasonal produce. If you’re lucky enough to be there when their sweet, rich apple cider is freshly pressed, enjoy! Fortunately, frozen cider is usually available.
End your day at the Bewildered Pig, with a glass of local wine on the creatively landscaped patio, strung with fairy lights and dotted with burbling fountains made of repurposed antiques and wine casks. Inside the restaurant, you’ll find a warm welcome and exquisite food in a comfortable, relaxed environment with a personal touch. Don’t be surprised if the owner stops by your table to say hello and check in on you. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself already planning your next trip to this unhurried, unspoiled little town.
Navarro River Redwoods State Park