Get ready for one of California’s prettiest—and least crowded—areas to sip and swirl. Known for ocean-cooled climates ranging from rolling coastal hills to vineyards wrapped with towering coast redwoods, the Mendocino County wine region is not only beautiful, it’s cutting edge too. The area is home to some of the state’s most progressive winemakers, who perfect organic sustainable techniques in their boutique vineyards.
In fact, Mendocino County has the most acreage of certified organic vineyards in the country. See what it’s all about at Frey Vineyards, the country's organic winery pioneer, and America’s first maker of certified biodynamic wines—they even say they are vegan and gluten-free. Another longtime sustainable Mendocino County winery is Parducci Wine Cellars, just north of Ukiah. Drop by their historic tasting room, gape at their array of redwood fermentation barrels you could nearly park a car in, and have a glass in front of the massive fireplace.
For a bonanza of award-winning Mendocino County wines, head inland on Highway 128. In the vineyards surrounding tiny Philo, have your pick of varietals: Gewürztraminer at Handley Cellars or Navarro Vineyards, or Pinot Noir at Husch. Nearby—14 south of Ukiah on 101—you’ll find Terra Savia, a sustainability-minded winery and olive oil producer that makes good on its pledge to be stewards of the environment by enlisting owls and bats for pest control instead of pesticides and donating to wildlife conservation efforts. While in the area, be sure to stop at charming Boonville General Store in Boonville to pick up local cheeses and other artisanal foods for a picnic to go with your bottles.