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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Spring in Mendocino County, California Highlights Wines, Waves, and Wilderness

Spring in Mendocino County, California Highlights Wines, Waves, and Wilderness  via  www.productreviewmom.com


Enjoy Stunning Views and Stellar Cuisine at Three Coastal Northern California Inns, Sip Award-winning Pinot Noirs Amongst the Ancient Redwoods, and Take a Trip Via Train or Rail Bike on One of CA’s Most Famous Attractions



When thoughts drift to Northern California’s Mendocino County in the spring, mouths should water and senses should perk up, as the local food and wine taste especially succulent as winter slips away. Sunny days ripen vines that are heavy with grapes and berries and coax tender green shoots from the ground. Innkeepers along the breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway smooth, crisp linens on beds in anticipation of guests seeking renewal and incomparable views of migrating whales. Visitors revel in exploring virgin groves of redwoods, only accessible via a beloved heritage train, and drinking Pinot Noir, Mendocino’s most popular varietal.



Spring in Mendocino County, California Highlights Wines, Waves, and Wilderness  via  www.productreviewmom.com


Perched atop dramatic ocean bluffs and encompassing 2,000 private acres, The Inn at Newport Ranch is a spectacular setting for an unforgettable interlude. Guests who crave a private encounter with nature yet treasure the trappings of a 5-star hotel will want to take advantage of the Spring Whale Watchers Getaway (good April 1–June 31, 2018). The Inn is a unique sanctuary, custom created from recycled and natural materials found locally and filled with dramatic architectural touches that let you know you are experiencing a Western luxury lodge like no other. Relax in a hot tub on a re-purposed water tower, rejuvenate with a Swedish and Sound massage in their Fireside Spa set amidst a grove of ancient trees, and whisper sweet nothings over a glass of local wine in a nook in the 20-foot walk-through fireplace. No two of the thoughtfully curated rooms in the individual buildings are exactly the same, but they all include 550-thread-count Supima sheets and indulgent William Roam products. The Inn’s mile and a half of oceanfront trails allow migrating grey whales to be spotted right from shore, and weekday rooms (Monday-Thursday) at this time of year are 10% off*, so it’s an easy decision to add the all-inclusive Spring Whale Watchers Getaway for another $325. Perks of this package include welcome appetizers in the Grand Salon, followed by a three-course-dinner prepared by the Inn’s award-winning chef. The next day, an ATV tour of the property awaits, encompassing meadow, beach, forest and 50-mile views across the Pacific. A picnic lunch is part of the fun, but guests will want to save room for another three course-dinner that night. A classic Ranch Breakfast is served both mornings. * 10% off does not apply to weekend (Fri-Sat) nights, but the add-on package can be booked for any night of the week. The Inn at Newport Ranch, 31502 N. Highway One, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, (707) 962-4818, www.theinnatnewportranch.com.



Spring in Mendocino County, California Highlights Wines, Waves, and Wilderness  via  www.productreviewmom.com


The bounty of Mendocino is the focus of the meals that are included with your stay at the Brewery Gulch Inn, a boutique and award-winning B&B overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Giving credence to their long list of accolades (including being named the #1 in Northern California by Condé Nast Traveler), the accommodating staff at the inn will help craft a holiday for more than just your taste buds. Cozy chic seems to be the watchword under the recycled redwood beams of the Arts and Crafts-influenced Great Room that opens out onto vistas of atmospheric Smuggler’s Cove. Every inch of the 11 carefully appointed-rooms exudes chic comfort while your private fireplace warms your body and soul. Beautiful views and impeccable service are just the beginning at Brewery Gulch, as guests confess that they are drawn back by dreams of the unique culinary offerings. New items to crave on their spring breakfast menu—served complimentary to guests each morning—include the Bananas Foster French Toast (rich and eggy brioche French toast from Costeaux bakery in Healdsburg served with bananas caramelized in brown sugar and brandy), and Pork Carnitas Chilaquiles (corn tortilla strips lightly fried and topped with housemade Carnitas and fire-roasted salsa). Or choose a cheesesteak-style breakfast sandwich named for Mendocino’s first farmer (steak, pepper jack, sautéed onions, bell peppers and a soft-boiled egg). Stroll it all off in nearby Mendocino Village, a Victorian hamlet that is both a real town and a preservation district where you can learn about the area’s earliest inhabitants, including Homer Barton, who lends his name to the sublime breakfast sandwich. Brewery Gulch Inn, 9401 N. Highway One, Mendocino, CA 95460, (707) 937-4752, www.brewerygulchinn.com.


Spring in Mendocino County, California Highlights Wines, Waves, and Wilderness  via  www.productreviewmom.com


The Little River Inn has created a package for those who want to learn how to gather, prepare and preserve Mendocino’s homegrown goodness themselves. The first-ever Mendocino Coast Forage and Ferment Experience will have its inaugural weekend from June 22-24. The Inn itself is a sprawling historical landmark that has been owned and operated by the same family for five generations. Today it is a full-service resort with regulation tennis courts, an Audubon-certified 9-hole golf course, a bar and restaurant, and a salon and day spa. There are 66 rooms and suites, some appealingly affordable and others that are downright luxurious, all of which have views of the ocean. Chef Marc Dym, who helms the Inn’s award-winning restaurant, created an adventure in foraging and fermenting with the help of local experts who uncover everything from mushrooms and herbs to seaweed and sea urchin. The hands-on odyssey starts on Friday night, with a history of the area served up with cocktails, wine and appetizers, emphasizing locally gathered and preserved delicacies. The package includes two nights’ lodging (Fri & Sat) so participants will be right on site to begin Saturday’s activities, which will be divided between mining the forest for treasures such as mushrooms, roots and berries with Kevin Smith, Countryman Forager, and an afternoon at the beach collecting savory seaweed with Larry Knowles of Rising Tide Sea Vegetables. In the evening there will be cooking demonstrations, including tips in preservation. During the demo, led by Chef Dym, Greg Fonts from Triton X will present ocean delicacies from his day’s dive, which might yield scallops, rock fish, box crabs or urchins. The night culminates in a communal feast that incorporates the day’s finds and celebrates Mendocino’s tradition of scrumptious self-sufficiency. Prices for the weekend experience start at $1,000 per person for a single room and $755 per person for a shared room. Little River Inn, 7901 N. Highway One, Little River, CA 95456, (707) 937-5942, www.littleriverinn.com.


Spring in Mendocino County, California Highlights Wines, Waves, and Wilderness  via  www.productreviewmom.com


Prestigious and particular Pinot Noir grapes need a long spring to achieve their nuanced flavors, which is one reason that Mendocino is such a good fit for the finicky fruit. Some of the world’s most accomplished winemakers choose to make their homes in the county, attracted by the lush fields, flowing streams, and the majestic redwoods of Anderson Valley. Camp Navarro, a nature retreat and event facility that evokes an idyllic summer camp, has all of the above in spades, so it’s probably no coincidence that this year’s Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival (May 18-20, 2018) will be held at this glorious venue. Situated under a canopy of ancient redwoods, the Camp comprises over 200 acres of old growth forest nestled along the north fork of the Navarro River. Festival events that will be held at the Camp include a Grand Tasting in a grove of redwoods and a Winemaker Dinner prepared by the Camp’s own Chef Mitchel Mount, a veteran of Michelin-starred restaurants. Immerse yourself by staying at the camp during the festival – festivalgoers can choose from Teepee Tents, regular cabins, and three-sided East Coast-style Adirondacks, or camp on their own on the property. Camp Navarro is less than a three hour-drive from San Francisco but feels worlds away, making it a perfect venue for group or creative events in the great outdoors year-round. Camp Navarro, 901 Masonite Industrial Rd, Navarro, CA 95466, www.campnavarro.com. Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, www.avwines.com/pinot-noir-festival.


Spring in Mendocino County, California Highlights Wines, Waves, and Wilderness  via  www.productreviewmom.com


Some of the best Pinot Noir in Anderson Valley is produced by Lula Cellars, a small batch premium winery that specializes in this varietal. Just in time for the warm summer months, Lula introduces the 2017 Rosé and 2017 Gewürztraminer, the first releases from new winemaker Matt Parish. The Gewurztraminer was created from grapes sourced from a single block on the Day Ranch Vineyard located just outside the tiny town of Philo. It tastes dry but carries higher acidity, making it “off-dry,” with a sweetness that develops. Redolent of citrus and peaches, it makes a tasty accompaniment to Asian or Alsatian food. Their 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir comes from hand-harvested grapes that were pressed gently to produce delicate aromas, subtle flavors and a pleasingly pale color. The grapes were sourced from the Green Ranch, which sits high above the Anderson Valley on a mountain plateau at an ideal altitude. Dry and deliciously drinkable, the Rosé has a clean finish and a vibrant floral berry nose. Both new releases are terrific as aperitifs and refresh the palate with every sip. In true egalitarian Mendocino fashion, they only sell their wines—all made from native Mendocino grapes—directly to the public via their tasting room and website. Stop by Lula’s pet-friendly tasting room and try them for yourself! Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. No reservations required. Lula Cellars Tasting Room, 2800 Guntly Rd, Philo, CA 95466, (707) 895-3737, www.lulacellars.com.


Spring in Mendocino County, California Highlights Wines, Waves, and Wilderness  via  www.productreviewmom.com


History buffs and locals know that the Skunk Train—today one of California’s most beloved attractions—was built in the 1880s to move logs from the coastal town of Fort Bragg to the inland cowboy country of Willits. Nowadays the railroad’s steam and diesel-powered trains chug through dense woods and zigzag along the lively Noyo River, providing unparalleled access to the Pacific Coast Temperate Rainforest. Young and old delight as the trains travel through tunnels and cross over trestles, all while sending clouds of steam skyward. There are two scenic rides, the Pudding Creek Express and the Northspur Flyer, in addition to annual themed trains for holidays such as Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Christmas. This Spring, the Skunk Train is adding two very unique offerings to their repertoire. Beginning in May, the Skunk will offer Rail Bikes that you can ride along the tracks, as well as a Trail Loop hike through some of the most unspoiled redwood forest in the world. Departing out of the Fort Bragg depot on the Mendocino Coast, patrons will have the option of riding a 2-person Rail Bike on the tracks along the picturesque Pudding Creek Estuary. These peddle-powered vehicles turn around at the Glen, a spot nestled deep in the redwoods where visitors can saunter along well-maintained trails, discover the local flora and fauna, or have a picnic at a table in the meadow. A Trail Loop is also available for riders of the Pudding Creek Express who wish to disembark and walk a 1-mile loop before getting back on the train. These options allow you to experience the railroad in a new way and get even more up close and personal with spring’s charms. Skunk Train (California Western Railroad), 100 W. Laurel St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, (707) 964-6371, www.skunktrain.com.



A scant three hours’ drive from San Francisco, the sweeping beauty and rustic charm of Mendocino awaits. The roadsides are thick with wild irises and blazing orange poppies. Whales breach offshore, guiding their young north to the fish-filled waters of the Bering Sea, and flowering orchards perfume the air with the promise of pleasures to come. Inns and wineries open their doors and gardens and invite you to feast, drink and bask in the sun. The variety of lodging options to suit every budget and unforgettable attractions amidst the oldest living things on earth make Mendocino a can’t-miss destination, and Spring is a magical time of year to visit.



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