The Mendocino appellation is roughly the size of Rhode Island - but with a fraction of that state’s population. Within Mendocino lies the Anderson Valley AVA and a group of smaller, lesser-known AVAs including Cole Ranch, McDowell Valley, Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, and Yorkville Highlands. Applications are in progress for still more appellations, with the most important being the widely planted Ukiah and Sanel valleys along the Russian River. While most Mendocino vineyards fall into one of the current or proposed AVAs, many small vineyards dot the hills and dales of the rugged region. These legacy vineyards from Mendocino’s immigrant past give the region its identity as a home to Mediterranean red varieties, including Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Carignan, Charbono and Grenache. Yet Mendocino’s Anderson Valley is also home to some of America’s most sought-after Alsatian whites, prestige sparkling wines, and high-octane Pinot Noir. Because of its low population, relative impassibility and distance from urban centers, however, Mendocino is home to far few bonded wineries than Sonoma or Napa. As a result, these grape-hungry counties scarf up more than half of Mendocino’s harvest each year and put it into wines labeled with other appellations.
~ Thom Elkjer, Mendocino Editor