It’s April… but you know that already. What may have slipped your mind, though, is that May not only brings flowers (April showers, etc.) but it also brings the most wonderful celebration of one of the noblest of grapes: Pinot Noir!
Only fifteen miles long, Anderson Valley, which lies between the hot inland valleys and the cool, cool coast, is home to a unique group of vineyards and wineries producing a broad range of excellent wines including world class Pinot Noir. And on the weekend of May 17, the valley celebrates this prince of grapes with its 22nd annual Pinot Party. The focus of fun will be at the spectacular Camp Navarro, a former Boy Scout camp, and now a Pinot playground under a spreading canopy of giant redwoods along the cooling waters of the Navarro River.
Plan Some Pinot Fun
Kick off your weekend on Friday May 17 at the technical tasting. Yes, it sounds serious… and it is. This is your opportunity to learn the nuances of the grape, its finicky nature, and the secrets behind some of the finest Pinots around. During the day, join grape growers, winemakers, educators, and members of the media for a series of lively discussions at educational seminars and vineyard-focused tastings. Your ticket includes breakfast and lunch. Grab a quick 40 winks before heading to the bucolic vineyards at Goldeneye Winery for a Backyard BBQ among the vines. Plenty of food, gallons of Pinot, live music, and a lot of characters will make this an evening to remember.
On Saturday May 18, take in the beauty of Camp Navarro, dotted with white tents under towering redwoods. This is your time to sip, sample and savor Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs, Pinot Noir rosé, and sparkling wines from more than 50 wineries served with especially paired small bites prepared by the area’s best restaurants and caterers. Put together your own samplings, take a seat by the river, and drink in the atmosphere. Bring your checkbook to bid at the live auction to benefit the Anderson Valley Health Center.
The Saturday fun doesn’t stop here! Continue your Pinot journey on Saturday evening to a Winemaker Dinner of your choice, or stick around for a memorable ‘after party’ at Camp Navarro, which will be hosting a buffet dinner and concert with San Francisco’s Tracorum and local favorites (and great gals), The Real Sarahs.
You’re not done yet. Sunday is when winery tasting rooms around the valley put out the purple flats, throw open their doors, and invite you to stop at participating wineries for a little extra wine tasting, music, bites, and special winery promotions.
Oh the winemaker dinners! If you could clone yourself, you’d be at all three. However, you’re going to have to make a decision.
The beautiful Harbor House Inn on the Mendocino coast in Elk will host Molly and Jason Drew for a six-course tasting menu showcasing the bounty of the Mendocino Coast, paired with a variety of Drew Wines. Executive Chef Matthew Kammerer sources all the ingredients for his creative menus from within a 50-mile radius. For this particular dinner, the focus will be on the bounty of the coast.
The Philo Apple Farm is nestled among orchards filled with heritage apple trees just east of the Navarro River and Hendy Woods State Park. Chef/owner Karen Bates will create a seasonally inspired 4-course menu from the Apple Farm Kitchen paired with select Goldeneye and Long Meadow Ranch wines from Anderson Valley.
The Roederer Salon presents Roederer Estate, Smith Story Wine Cellars, Domaine Anderson with Salt & Stone’s Chef David LaMonica. Pair your favorite sparkling house with some amazing Pinot Noir producers for an exclusive dinner with the three winemakers and enjoy a wine pairing menu par excellence!
Park the Pinot
You’re going to need to sleep somewhere with all that Pinot Partying going on. Camp Navarro has a variety of lodging options ranging from cabins to teepees, and Adirondacks to RVs. And lodging options in the valley include The Madrones, The Brambles, the Boonville Hotel,the Farm Stay Inn at Blackbird Farm, Sheep Dung Properties, Van Zandt’s Redwood View Resort, and many options on the gorgeous Mendocino coast.