Start your day by heading to the Great Room where you’ll fortify yourself with a classic BGI breakfast that may include the waffles with fresh strawberries and “Millionaire’s Bacon” or the Belgian hot chocolate. Don’t worry about the calories, you’ll need them today.
Your first stop of the day will be at:
1) Catch A Canoe where their experienced staff will find a canoe or kayak to fit your interest and skill level. As you head up the Big River (being sure to stay along the left bank to catch the upriver eddys), you’ll pass several of the 27 wooden dams that were constructed to capture the mammoth redwood logs floated down the river during the logging boom of the 1800s. Keep your eyes open along the way for river otters, deer and harbor seals that make themselves at home along this waterway.
Once back at the dock, head on over to:
2) Mendocino Market on Ukiah Street and pick up some organic gourmet picnic snacks hand-prepared by owner Jeff and his staff.
Take your snacks and a split of Mendocino County wine and drive 2 miles up the coast to:
3) Russian Gulch State Park where you’ll find a blow hole created by a collapsed sea cave; and a beach that offers swimming, tide pool exploring and rock fishing. But it’s the heavily forested Russian Gulch Creek Canyon, with its 2 ¼ mile trail to the Russian Gulch Falls, that is the real draw. The trail is nearly flat for the first mile and a half as it skirts the river and winds up at a group of picnic tables deep in the forest. From that point, you climb by trail, wooden steps and footbridges to the 36-foot high falls which seem to run, undiminished, even in drought years.
Once back at the car, head over to the inn in time for the wine hour and an amazing light dinner buffet. Depending on your energy level, the balance of your evening may either be spent watching one of BGI’s 500+ DVDs, or listening to live music at the:
4) Headlands Coffee House. The food and drink are fresh and delicious. The cordial climate welcomes everybody – local business people, tourists, teens, little kids, seniors, artists, writers and musicians, and all the extraordinary "ordinary people" who live on the Mendocino Coast.
Today you discover why Mendocino County, and the Anderson Valley in particular, is being touted as the next great wine region. But first, before heading out, indulge in a breakfast that includes BGI’s Eggs Benedict featuring our housemade English muffins and a cup of Thanksgiving Coffee, custom-roasted for the Inn.
Be sure to leave the inn by 9:45 a.m. because the first stop on your wine odyssey is:
1) Navarro Vineyards, a family-owned winery that has been growing grapes and producing amazing wines in the Anderson Valley since 1974. The highlight of your stop at Navarro is the vineyard tour, which begins at 10:30 a.m., lasts about an hour and takes you through the entire winemaking process from grape-growing to bottling. There is a second tour at 3:30 p.m., reservations are required for both.
After the tour and a stop in Navarro’s tasting room, it is off to:
2) Libby’s in Philo where they are justly famous for their fresh salsa and chips, enormous burritos and carnitas. My particular favorite is their enchilada with a unique mole sauce.
Once your food stores have been replenished, you’ll head over to one of the oldest vineyards in the Anderson Valley:
3) Lazy Creek Vineyards. Named for the meandering creek that runs through the 95-acre ranch, Lazy Creek Vineyards is located a few miles west of Philo in Anderson Valley. A pleasant detour off Highway 128, LCV's narrow, dirt road overgrown with rambling bushes and ferns, towering redwoods and oak trees, opens onto a bucolic setting complete with a new winery building and tasting room, rustic barn, cottages and a menagerie of animals, gardens, fruit trees and vineyards -- all welcoming visitors to this truly magical place. Just how good are LCV’s cool-climate pinots, chardonnays and gewürztraminers? Good enough to be a featured wine of Dean and Deluca, and good enough to prompt Dry Creek’s Ferrari-Carano winery to acquire the vineyard in 2008. One of the oldest wineries in the valley, Lazy Creek is committed to sustainable growing practices and the small scale production of acclaimed Pinot Noir.
From Lazy Creek, it’s just a 5 mile drive down Highway 128 to one of the most beautiful tasting rooms and vineyards in the valley:
4) Goldeneye It was here, in 1996,that Dan and Margaret Duckhorn decided to establish a winery that could make a terroir-inspired expression of California Pinot Noir of equal stature to the acclaimed Merlots they had pioneered at Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley. The rest is history. Sit out on their brick patio overlooking the bubbling fountain and the vineyards beyond, and enjoy their exquisite pinots with a cheese or charcuterie plate. Be sure to mention you are staying at Brewery Gulch and your tasting fee will be waived.
After this stressful day of sampling world-class wines, it’s time to wind down, catch a little music and take in a memorable North Coast sunset. Next stop:
5) The Ledford House Located on the ocean side of Highway 1 in Albion (just 6 short miles before you reach the Inn), this restaurant is known for its country french cuisine and the jazz duo that plays in their bar each night. And if you like martinis, grab a stool at the bar and ogle the sunset while the bartender creates what a previous Brewery Gulch guest calls "one of the three best martinis" he ever had (the other two being sampled at a small hotel in Bangkok, and in the Oval Office with FDR).
Today is a day to recognize and celebrate the beauty of coastal Mendocino. After a light breakfast of fresh-squeezed juice, and a vanilla yogurt parfait, head up the Highway 1 to:
1) Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens Stretching from Highway 1 to the Pacific, this 47 acre site has been delighting visitors for more than 40 years. Perennial gardens of texture and color are joined by a heritage rose garden, a heather garden, a dahlia garden, a fern canyon and wild coastal bluffs. Throughout the area, the Garden’s signature rhododendrons are ever-present. In addition to the diverse flora, the Gardens play host to a variety of wildlife including deer, rabbits, osprey, California quail and numerous other creatures.
After wandering through this coastal Eden, head up the road to the picturesque fishing village of Noyo Harbor, easily recognized from its supporting role in numerous movies shot in the area. Your destination is:
2) Herons By The Sea Located at the harbor entrance, Herons is the perfect spot to enjoy some great coastal cuisine while watching the fishing boats and Coast Guard vessels heading in and out of the harbor. If the weather is nice, sit out at an umbrella-covered table on the deck overlooking the harbor.
Following lunch, head up to:
3) Lari Shea’s Ricochet Ridge Ranch for a 1.5 hour horseback ride along the ocean. Outside Magazine’s choice as one of the top 25 trips of a lifetime, a ride along the Mendocino Coast is the perfect cap to your three perfect days.
Fortunately, you’ve planned ahead and you arrive back at BGI in time for your scheduled hot stone massage. After your relaxing treatment and a light sampling of BGI’s wine and light dinner buffet, head over to Mendocino’s renowned California French restaurant:
4) Café Beaujolais and partake of their homemade breads and their innovative cuisine at this California French restaurant located in a renovated historic cottage in the heart of the Village.