Anderson Valley, California

Photo: N Preseault
Photo: N Preseault

It’s Friday. Finally. Time to get out of the city. You’re ready for a glass of wine. Or maybe a wine tasting. Sure, Sonoma and Napa have great wines, but the tasting rooms are just too crowded to be relaxing and personalized. Time to venture a little further into wine country.

Whether you drive slowly up Highway 1 or take the more direct route through Sonoma, your destination is the Anderson Valley in western Mendocino County. In the hills above Philo, up a long, winding road off of Highway 128, you’ll find Esterlina Vineyards. If you’re lucky, Murio Sterling, the winery’s founder, will be pouring.

Photo: Esterlina Vineyards
Photo: Esterlina Vineyards

The first thing you’ll notice–once you realize you’re actually heading in the right direction–is the stunning view. A large deck overlooks their vineyards with the valley in the distance. Soak in the view. It’s peaceful, relaxing, and quiet. With appointment-only tastings, only a small group visits at one time. You could have the deck all to yourself. Munchies appear to accompany the wine. And the pouring begins.

Esterlina prides themselves on creating small-quantity, but high-quality wines. You will not be disappointed. Pinot Noirs that are meant to be aged–if you can force yourself not to open the bottles. Deep, cherry-flavored Cabernet Sauvignons. A Merlot for people who think they don’t like Merlots. Even a refreshing Reisling. A tasting has suddenly turned into an afternoon.

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