Anderson Valley Travel Guide
If there’s one part of California’s wine country that’s highly underrated, it’s Anderson Valley. The people are laid back and friendly, there’s no traffic or tour buses, and most of the wine tastings are offered free of charge. It’s wine country in it’s purest form.
I had been wanting to visit this small stretch of Mendocino County for quite some time and the start of our road trip to Oregon seemed like the perfect opportunity. It takes about 3 hours to get there from San Francisco and the drive along two-lane Highway 128 is absolutely beautiful. The winding road takes you through oak-covered hills and past farms raising llamas, goats, sheep, and cattle. And if you’re not careful you could drive right past Boonville, the largest town in Anderson Valley, without evening knowing it.
It might be small and unassuming, but it’s rich with culture. We loved every second we spent exploring this cherished piece of land and are already planning to go back in the fall to do some apple picking at the local orchard.
Where to Stay
The Boonville Hotel. I can’t remember where it was that I first read about the Boonville Hotel but I know as soon as I did, I had my heart set on staying there. It’s a no frills kind of place with a down-to-earth charm in a gorgeous natural setting. There’s no television in the rooms and the beds and bathrooms are dressed with organic linens. They even have their own organic garden that they source ingredients from to serve breakfast and dinner at their restaurant every day.
We stayed in their studio which has it’s own gated yard right behind a small creek. It was so nice to let Coco have the freedom to roam the backyard while we sat by the fireplace and listened to the sounds of the water flowing and the nearby roosters crowing. The Boonville Hotel really is the perfect place to get away from it all.
Breakfast included farm fresh eggs, orange currant scones, rhubarb, and yogurt with homemade granola
Where to Eat
Stone & Embers. Located in a small plaza called the Madrones, which is also home to guest quarters and four wineries, Stone & Embers serves organic wood fired pizza and salads made with produce sourced from the restaurant’s own farm down the road. There’s a beautiful dog-friendly patio equipped with heaters, cold local cider and delicious fresh food. What more could you want?
Little Gem Salad
Smoked Potato Beignets with Créme Fraíche and Piment D’Ville
Pizza with Potatoes, Mushrooms, Rosemary, Lemon and Parmesan
Mosswood Market. This charming bakery is right in the heart of downtown Boonville. Stop here for coffee and a pastry or quick lunch.
Boonville General Store. Another great spot for lunch. Order a few sandwiches to-go and take them with you for a picnic at one of the nearby vineyards.
Table 128. This is a must-try when in Anderson Valley. It’s run by the Boonville Hotel which, as I said above, sources their ingredients from local farms in addition to their own organic garden. For that reason they only offer a seasonally inspired prix-fixe menu.
I was worried what that would mean for us seeing how we’re both vegetarians, however they were able to modify the meal and it turned out incredible. You could literally taste how fresh the ingredients were. Definitely one of the best meals of the entire trip!
Side note: I didn’t take a picture of the cheesecake because the lighting was so bad but it was surprisingly delicious, considering that I don’t usually like cheesecake. The texture was much lighter than most that I’ve tried and it wasn’t overly sweet.
Radicchio Salad with Savory Bread Salsa and Mustard Balsamic Vinaigrette
Mushroom Orzo Pasta with Asparagus, Mustard Caper Cream and Parsley Gremolada
Where to Play
Navarro Vineyards. This vineyard offers free tastings of almost every wine they make and they are all scrumptious. If it’s a nice day, this would be a great place for a picnic. The views are gorgeous. They’re also known for being super dog-friendly so be sure to bring your furry friend along, if you have one.
Lula Cellars. This vineyard was recommended to me by Kelli and it did not disappoint. The tasting room is small but welcoming and the pinot noir is delicious. We especially loved their friendly pup, Honey.
Hendy Woods State Park. Just 8 miles from Boonville, this state park is home to eighty acres of ancient redwood forests. There are a few short hikes that are perfect for starting the day with a little activity before getting your wine tasting on.
Downtown Boonville Shopping. The downtown area doesn’t have a ton of shopping but I like to think that they focus on quality rather than quantity. Peruse the Vintage Antique shop and the Farmhouse Mercantile for housewares or pick up a jar of their locally produced Piment d’Ville red chile powder.