One of the tedious tasks of being an innkeeper is selecting the wines to pour during the evening wine hour. This involves sampling countless wines at numerous tastings. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
During this process, I have had a chance to meet many of the local wine makers. One of my favorite wineries, both for the wines it produces and for the people who own and operate it, is Londer Vineyards in Philo. This small winery was started in 2001 by Shirlee and Larry Londer. They produce an amazing Pinot Noir, a beautiful Syrah and a very dry Gewurtztraminer. Shirlee and Larry were kind enough to pour a tasting for guests at the inn tonight. Just how nice are they? They came to pour in spite of the fact it was Larry’s birthday.
One of the small benefits of being an innkeeper are unplanned things that happen. A friend of mine booked a weekend stay for her sister, her niece, her daughter and two friends to celebrate her neice’s upcoming wedding. They made friends with everyone at the inn and I think they had a pretty good time. I know the innkeeper did.
This past weekend, the 11th annual Pinot Noir festival was held in the Anderson Valley. The only festival of its kind to celebrate a single varietal from a single appellation, the event kicked off with a technical conference and a barbecue at Standish Vineyards on Friday. On Saturday, a Grand Tasting featuring over 30 wineries was held at Goldenye. Following that event, 6 separate winemaker dinners were held at venues throughout the region. The festival concluded on Sunday with open houses at most of the vineyards throughout the valley.
The spectacular weather, combined withe the opportunity to sample close to 100 different pinots, made this a memorable weekend. I thought it was interesting that there were winemakers from not just Anderson Valley, but from Napa, Sonoma and other regions pouring wines they produced from grapes grown in our valley. In talking with a number of these wineries, I learned that Anderson Valley yields some of the finest pinot grapes in the world.
It’s tough leaving a field you have been in for 20 years and embarking on a totally new career. It’s even more challenging uprooting yourself from friends, family and a large city where you have spent your entire life and moving to a small town of 1,000 people where you know no one. But sometimes you get lucky and make new friends right away.
I got lucky. One of the first friends I made was another guy who closed escrow on an inn in Mendocino the day after I became the owner of Brewery Gulch. It’s been great knowing someone else that is going through the learning curve of inn ownership at the same time. John’s friendship, sense of humor and llamas have really helped to make this transition an easy one. Here’s a picture of John with the newest addition to his family (John is the one on the left).
My friends Brad and Cheryl came to visit this week. It was the first time they had spent any time in Mendocino, so I wanted to make sure to take them to my favorite places. At the top of that list has to be the falls at Russian Gulch.
The falls are located just a couple of miles north of town. An incredibly cool arched bridge carries Highway 1 over the river as it spills out onto the beach at Russian Gulch. Just east of the bridge, a trail begins. For the first mile or so, it is a wide path that follows the meandering river upstream. Then the path narrows and heads up into the forest for another 7/10 of a mile. All along the way, wildflowers and ferns crowd the path, while birds and butterflies compete for your attention.
Pretty soon you can hear the sound of the rushing stream grow louder and around the next bend, you see the falls spilling 35 feet over rocks, ferns and logs into a small pool below. The picture I’ve posted here doesn’t even begin to do this place justice.