grape passport: mendocino

I travel to explore wine, so here are some good tips to help your grapey travel experiences.


Here’s a full list of wineries in the region. But aside from your usual fun sampling wine, you can:
Play bocce at Balo
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Visit Pennyroyal Farm to sample some handcrafted cheese they make from goats and sheep raised on their family farm
pennyroyal cheese
Dig this cool tree stump table at Saracina
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Listen to music on Friday nights at Rivino
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City of 10,000 Buddhas: one of the largest Buddhist communities in the Western Hemisphere. Check out the monastery, which is one of the first Chinese Zen Buddhist temples in the US.


I was staying at the guest house at Handley Cellars – so pretty, but not open to the public.
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If I hadn’t been lucky enough to stay there, I would’ve stayed five minutes down the road at The Madrones. Amazing place! It’s a little enclave with only a few rooms, but they’re all so modernly decorated and the grounds are gorgeous. They also have a few Mendocino winery tasting rooms and a great antiques shop.
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The owner made us fresh croissants and French press coffee and we ate it here. Did not suck.

The owner made us fresh croissants and French press coffee and we ate it here. Did not suck.

Other places I heard were good to stay in the area are the Little River Inn on the coast and the Boonville Hotel.


Stone & Embers – The whole menu looks great, but a stand-out is the homemade ice cream. We had Cap’n Crunch – and it was insane!!!
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Campovida in Hopland has great summery salads and woodfire-oven pizzas.
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On your drive back to San Francisco, there’s an AMAZING sushi place called Hana in Rohnert Park. Just sit at the bar and feast away on some sick fish. Apparently they also have a sake sommelier, but we were wine-d out at that point and didn’t enlist his services.


pee wee herman roadsign
Beware if you have a queasy stomach. It’s about a 3-hour drive from San Francisco, north of Napa and Sonoma, but worth seeking out. If you’re heading to the Philo area, you get off the 101 and take Highway 128 which is absolutely beautiful but probably the windiest road you’ll ever be on. Seriously, it was like driving in a video game. Remember that scene in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure where he’s in the truck on the highway and sees all the signs for the crazy winding road? That has NOTHING on this road.

3 thoughts on “grape passport: mendocino

  1. Did you get to stop at John Ash & Co? That’s my fave place to eat when I am home 🙂 I am so delighted to see you post about Mendocino, I’m from Santa Rosa and it’s crazy awesome to see how far Sonoma and Mendocino have come since I was growing up, when wine tasting was in someone’s garage or barn. You should check out Judson Hale winery next time:

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