A sparkling wine tasting tour of Mendocino County

This year’s harvest in California has been underway since late July, an almost unprecedented early start date thanks to a warmer than average season leading to faster ripening of grapes in wine counties.

Among the first grape varieties harvested are the grapes intended for sparkling wines. In Mendocino County, that means thin-skinned varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are just beginning to ripen, allowing enough acidity throughout the winemaking process to produce a flute full of irresistible bubbles.


When you’re craving something sparkling, here’s where to sip Anderson Valley sparkling wines in Hopland.

Where to Taste Sparkling Wine in Mendocino County

Brut rosé from Domaine Roederer.

(Ramon Jimenez)

Domaine Roederer

The California outpost of Louis Roederer Champagne since 1982, this 580-acre Anderson Valley vineyard and sparkling wine estate is a household name. Enjoy sweeping views of the valley from the outdoor patio and see if you can point out the differences between raw wine poured from a standard 750 milliliter bottle and a magnum. The signature sparkling wine tasting lasts 45 minutes and takes you through their classic brut, brut rosé, library reserve brut, then ends with a taste of the extra dry, which is only available in the tasting room . Pair your bubbles with deviled eggs and oysters from their Nosh menu. //Tastings cost between $20 and $40/person and are offered daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., reservations required; 4501 CA-128 (philo); roedererestate.com.

Toulouse vineyards

Follow the sign with the iconic goose mascot up a steep driveway to a cute little tasting room with an outdoor patio and views of the wooded valley below. Owners Vern and Maxine Boltz planted 21 acres of vines in the area and produced their first wines here in 2002 using sustainable farming practices. While Toulouse is best known for this star Anderson Valley pinot noir (and, in our humble opinion, they make the best pinots in the valley), assistant winemaker Rita Vodopals is having fun with Goose Bubbles, a blanc de noir sparkling wine aged on the lees for five years. This bubbly makes a great champagne cocktail, a little surprise since Vodopals also has a soft spot for aperitifs – ask to try its delicate chamomile-infused vermouth and amaro made from the estate’s pinot. // Open daily for outdoor tastings by appointment via email [email protected] or phone 707-895-2828; 8001 CA -128 (philo); www.toulousevineyards.com.

field of lichens

With just seven acres of pinot gris and pinot noir vineyards, this all-organic estate run by Doug Stewart produces memorable sparkling wines in small batches. The 2017 Blanc de Gris is 100% Pinot Gris, bright and full of nectarine and stony minerality, while the 2017 Blanc de Noir is classically nutty. The wines are beautiful, and even more so when you can look directly at the vineyard while sipping them. If you want to linger longer, book their lovely Craftsman cottage or Airstream accommodation through Airbnb. // Tastings are $25 per person, available daily with reservations; 11001 County Road 151 (Boonville); lichenestate.com.

Maggy Hawk

This acclaimed winery sits on a beautifully manicured property with fountains and a bocce ball — just the kind of vibe that makes us want to sip wine and hang out all day. Since 2017, winemaker Sarah Wuethrich has been bringing a very hands-on approach to the vineyards of the northern Anderson Valley. In addition to Maggy Hawk’s line of signature Pinot Noirs, Wuethrich’s all-new 2021 Pet-Nat uses grapes intended for their popular still-white Pinot Noir and is bursting with juicy apricots, almonds and Asian pears. // Open for tastings ($25 per person) from Thursday to Monday by reservation and without appointment when available;9001 CA-128 (Philo), maggyhawk.com.

Pennyroyal Farm

Because sparkling wines are often best paired with cheeses, make the most of your experience at Pennyroyal Farm, a regenerative goat and sheep farm that doubles as a winery. Pennyroyal’s wine tasting flight includes their 2018 Brut Rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir, a lovely number that’s subtly pink and full of apple and hazelnut flavors. Their farmhouse cheeses, made on-site in the creamery by Erika McKenzie-Chapter, also appear in the flight, and you’ll definitely want to take home a piece of the aged Boont Corners reserve tommes (perfect with the bubbly) or the super gooey velvet . Sister. // Tastings are $25 per person Thursday through Monday by reservation and walk-in when available; 14930 CA-128 (Boonville), pennyroyalfarm.com.

Terra Savia wine estate and oil mill

If you’re planning a visit in August, you can catch the annual Mendocino Sparkling Wine Festival held at Terra Savia, a 25-acre certified organic property that produces both the estate’s olive oil and wines. unique sparkling wines through sustainable farming practices. Try the crisp Blanc de Blancs 2010 and the very unique Brut Rouge 2014, made from 100% Merlot and full of berry notes. // Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; for appointments, email [email protected] or call 707-744-1114; 14160 Mountain House Road. (Hopland), terrasavia.com.

Golden Pig Wine Shop

Once you’ve had a taste of Mendo and know what you like, buy more from this well-curated wine retailer across from Hopland’s Thatcher Hotel. Owner Julie Golden runs a proud suite of local businesses, including two biodynamic farms and a solid restaurant (the Golden Pig) just doors down. The wine shop stocks mostly local bottles, with a particular focus on Coro labels, zinfandel blends produced in conjunction with several area wineries. In addition to offering many of the local sparkling wines you’ve tasted, they also have some interesting finds, like a surprisingly delicious Maui pineapple bubbly, a Sho Chiku Bai Mio bubbly, and even a non-alcoholic bubbly. Order generous tastings and rotating selections by the glass. // Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday; 13420 CA-101 (Hopland), sipmendocino.com.

Where to Stay and Eat on the Mendocino Sparkling Wine Route

Chef Perry Hoffman in the kitchen of the Boonville Hotel.

(Ramon Jimenez)

Boonville + Philo

While the nearby small towns of Boonville and Philo have an abundance of wine (and food), your choice of stays is a bit more limited. We like The Madrones(9000 CA-128, Philo), a small, eclectic resort with just nine guest rooms in an English garden setting. Each room is elegantly designed with plush bedding and amenities such as a kitchenette and balcony. You also enjoy adjacent shops, tasting rooms, a restaurant, and even a cannabis-centric apothecary. Whether you stay here or not, you will enjoy a Mediterranean-style lunch or dinner in the courtyard of Wickson Restaurant(open on weekends). // The Madrones’ younger sister, Brambles, has five comfortable cabins with “Victorian-meets-industrial steampunk” atmospheres. // Hotel Boonville(14050 CA-128, Boonville) is a “modern truck stop” with 17 funky rooms, each with its own unique decor and amenities. You can opt for a spacious room with a bar and a balcony with a hammock in the main house; a pet-friendly cottage by the creek with a screened-in porch; or a new “tower” room on the second floor with a terrace overlooking the garden. Wherever you are, dine at the restaurant (open Thursday-Monday, reservations recommended) where chef Perry Hoffman serves a four- to five-course prix-fixe dinner using local ingredients in dishes like shaved apple salad with Pennyroyal Goat Cheese. // In downtown Boonville, Offspring(14111 CA-128) make legit wood-fired pies like carbonara or smoked tomato with mozzarella fior di latte, as well as great sides to enjoy at picnic tables in the garden. Then go next to Peasantthe scoop shop and sister bakery, for a seasonal cone.

Hopland

There are comfortable beds, bespoke furniture, a lavish library and cozy nooks and crannies set in the 1890s Hotel Thatcher(13401 CA-101), where palpable love has been put into restoring the historic hotel with the copper bell tower. Modern touches include a pool and the on-site Thatcher Bar that serves up a killer cocktail when you’ve had enough of the wine. // Close to Campovida, the multifaceted company that includes a vineyard and an event venue, livestock farm(13441 CA-101) is a great place to dine with a menu centered around the wood-fired pizza oven and salads like the peerless radicchio with dates, gorgonzola and polenta fries. Campovida’s Cuvée Brut is suitable for your themed tour, but you can also opt for a number of local wines and beers on tap.

While you’re in the area, make it a comprehensive trip with our modern Mendocino County and Hopland guides.

Elisha A. Tilghman