Monday, August 27, 2012

Mendocino Weekend

For whatever reason, in the 1.5+ years we've lived here, we've always travelled south when we've gone out of town. An armchair psychologist could chalk this up to our Southern California roots and a constant call back to where we know. My vote is on the fact we both fell hard and fast for Santa Cruz and its surrounding environs. Either way, it's left the land(s) north of us all but undiscovered.
My past birthdays were no different. For the last couple years we have spent my birthday camping with friends in the Santa Ynez Valley, mere miles from where we wed last month. Because of said wedding however, the annual birthday camping weekend experienced a bye this year.
So when DH mentioned he needed to walk the vineyards up in Sonoma and Mendocino, I jumped at the chance to trek north and discover Mendocino for my birthday weekend.
Despite only driving through it once years ago, Mendocino has always held a bit of nostalgia and allure to me. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that my closest relatives grew up on a street by the same name...but there I go again with the armchair psychologist bit!
We headed north early Friday morning, straight to Lanzelle Creek Vineyard, then to Lucky Well and onto my old favorite, Silver Eagle Vineyard. The grapes have already begun to experience verasion; or color change of the skins, but they still have close to another month (from 8/10) before they are ready to be picked and crushed for harvest.
After a quick lunch at our old standby, Jimtown and and even quicker wine tasting at the exquisitely designed (and branded), Medlock Ames, we were off to Mendocino...County that is. We spent our first night in Boonvilleone of those darling, one-road towns wherein "if you're talking to the driver, you'll miss it completely", as a local summed it up perfectly.
We stayed at the Boonville Hotel, a 'modern roadhouse' and arguably one of the most adorable places I've seen or stayed in. There's nothing fancy or highfalutin about it but the tiny 10-room inn, downstairs restaurant/check in area, outdoor dining patio and sprawling backyard (edible) gardens are enough to make your heart swell.
Unfortunately we weren't able to eat dinner in the restaurant as they were closed for a private party but we did enjoy the early evening in the gardens with a very special bottle...a 1982 vintage Reims,Champagne by G.H. Mumm. That bottle warrants its own post!
As if the hotel weren't wonderful enough, included in your stay is the best breakfast you could ask for...but better. Homemade scones, preserves and granola, thick Greek yogurt, local honey,fresh local apple juice, strong french press coffee - the spread was nothing short of humbling. 
Staying at the Boonville Hotel is like staying at your overly-talented-in-every-facet friend's house, but without ever feeling inferior. I cannot speak more highly about our experience there, maybe if I'd tried their legendary dinner but all the same.
After breakfast we packed up and headed to the town of Mendocino, but not before stopping at a few wineries along the way. Wine tasting in Mendocino County is how I imagine it used to be to wine taste in Sonoma 20 years ago (and Napa 30 years ago). Mary Elke, Toulouse and Roderer Sparkling rounded out our palette.
We took a quick dip in the Navarro River to cool off - Anderson Valley is HOT in August! But just as soon as you merge onto the 1 from the 128, the Mendocino fog makes itself known.
We stayed at Glendeven Inn, a delightful B&B with acres of edible gardens, hiking trails, roaming llamas (yes, llamas) and dozens of chickens to deliver farm fresh eggs every morning.
Upon arriving we toured the gorgeous gardens, walked with the llamas and fed the chickens. 
Glendeven hosts a nightly wine happy hour so we enjoyed a local white and veggie snack before heading out for the evening.
We opted to eat dinner in the town of Medocino at the highly recommended Cafe Beaujolais. On our way to the restaurant DH noticed the sign for 'Sweetwater Hot Tubs' and knew we had to inquire. Sure enough, private redwood hot tubs available to rent by the half hour. The one thing Glendeven was missing was a hot tub but nothing worth commenting on, so the discovery of Sweetwater was a real treat.
A quick half hour soak set us right and off we went to a fabulous dinner at Beaujolais. We shared the two daily soups (tomato soup with fresh crab & corn bisque), the two fish specials (sturgeon & king salmon) and a bottle of '09 Brouilly Beaujolais. It was one of those perfect, simple meals where conversation was king.
Breakfast in bed the next day along with a bottle of Gonet rose Champagne was the icing on the birthday cake and a perfect way to ring in a new decade!

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