Mendocino County: Wine, Waves and Highway 1
Taking in Mendocino on a BMW motorcycle with thoughts of coastline and vineyards, a tremendous adventure waits. The stunning views of the Pacific Ocean from Hwy 1 are matched by the beauty and diversity of Mendocino wines from Anderson Valley to Potter Valley.
August 27, 2013
I turned the corner and there it was one of the most beautiful sights I had seen since I threw my leg over a motorcycle, the Pacific Ocean in its entire splendor. I had just come over the twisty turns of Highway 20 from Willits through the deep forest and was now making my way south on Highway 1 just passing through Fort Bragg and headed to Mendocino. There before me in full view was the grandeur of the Pacific Ocean. It was late afternoon the ocean was calm with waves gently rolling up on shore as if it were getting to wrap it up for the day.
Like many of places in very rural Northern California Mendocino got its start as a logging town many years ago. In the late 1950’s the then isolated North Coast community switched gears with the founding of the Mendocino Art Center. Since that time the places has been a mix of ranchers, farmers, old hippies, artists, wine growers and pot growers all getting along and creating a very funky authentic little destination.
That night I headed the five miles back into town for dinner and landed at Patterson’s Pub which in a land of wine was a real find. The menu is as one would expect a pub menu with burgers, sandwiches, salads and the like. As a pub would have it the beer menu is comprehensive with lots of selections from Ireland, England as well as some local brews. Patterson’s like just about any restaurant in the area has a nice little wine menu with premium reds and whites as well as sparkling wines. The atmosphere was hopping; the Giants game on in the background and it was a fun atmosphere. After dinner I headed back to the Little River inn and just fell asleep listening to the waves.
Looking for more fun take Highway 101 North and you come into Hopland another great wine region within the county. Hopeland has a concentration of 17 wineries and great food along the way. Mendocino County has long touted itself as the “greenest” wine region in the country and if you’re in the area don’t miss America’s first carbon neutral winery Parducci Cellars where they pour Pinot, Sustainable White, True grit, Cabernet and Chardonnay. As you travel north on Highway 101 to Ukiah wineries can be found all along the way. While traveling on Highway 101 is well below the world class riding that Highway 1 provides the rider once you get off the freeway your back on two lane roads that prove to quite enjoyable.
Traveling further north takes you to Capella, and Redwood and Potter Valley where there are still more wineries to be had. Mendocino County offers a really nice variety of geography and climate and grape growers take advantage of it. Temperatures on the coast are often ten to 20 degrees cooler then inland. The area also offers the visitor a chance to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning watching the waves roll in and in the afternoon sample some really great wines. One bit of trivia that I found interesting about Mendocino County is it’s the final resting place for the famed racehorse Sea Biscuit. His owner Charles Howard’s Ridgewood Ranch was located six miles South of Willits and was home for this beloved horse that became famous for beating Man O War.
Photos: Visit Mendocino