If there’s a more entertaining and fun wine tasting experience in Northern California, we have yet to find it. Toulouse is probably the most recommended tasting room in the Anderson Valley, and everyone comes back raving about the incredible time they had there.
Vern and Maxine started this winery in 1997, and in the intervening years have become a fixture of the local wine scene. From raucous tasting events, to supplying world class pinot noir grapes to other wineries, to their ever-growing selection of their own world-class wines, they continue to impress. They recently completed a new tasting room, overlooking one of the best views of the Anderson Valley around, and adding to the experience for visitors.
The energy here is different from a typical tasting room – a cartoon goose greets you with the exclamation “Too Tense? Toulouse!”, and the staff here does everything to make that a reality. Walk into the tasting room and you’ll likely find a gaggle of people laughing, drinking, and excitedly discussing the wines with friends and nearby strangers. On most days Vern himself will be making the rounds, pouring tasters, answering questions, and generally making sure his visitors have an amazing time. Vern has a gift for making the process of winemaking comprehensible to his guests, whatever their level of expertise. As a result you will often find yourself captivated by delightful details you had never considered – the finer points of French oak selection for barrels, for example, down to individual forests and what makes them more suitable for certain grapes.
Toulouse offers a handful of varietals for you to taste, though pinot noir is the star here, as in much of Mendocino. Try the gewürztraminer and the pinot gris to get a taste of the Alsace varietals the Anderson Valley is quickly becoming known for, and, if available when you visit, sample the rosé wines and petite sirah as well.