Wanderlust: 48 Hours in Anderson Valley

By Laura Braden Quigley

Laura Braden Quigley
Laura Braden Quigley

Tucked between redwood-filled mountains and the foggy vistas of the North Coast lies Anderson Valley – you’ll find a charming and calm oasis of wineries, farms and locally-sourced restaurants winding its way through Highway 128.

My husband and I stumbled across this place on our way to Mendocino, and it has become one of our favorite places to visit. The air is fresh and crisp, and the cell service is virtually non-existent so if you need a quiet place to recharge, Anderson Valley is for you.

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View from Yorkville Cellar’s porch.

Distance from Sacramento: around 3.5 hours / 175 miles

The Vibe:

Super chill – come as you are. Layers are key, and while it’s always cooler than Sacramento, it can heat up fast in the sun.

Pet-Friendly?

Most definitely. Always check ahead of time, but we didn’t run into a single restaurant patio or winery that didn’t welcome our pups. Bonus points to Navarro Winery in Philo for having a fenced-in dog park/picnic area right out front (yeah, it’s amazing).

Hungry, Thirsty

There are limited restaurant options, and if your rental has a grill, take advantage of the setting/weather and cook at home. There are a few markets – including Gowan’s in Philo that sell local produce – but you’d do better to plan ahead and hit up Nugget/Costco on your way up.

Stone & Embers (Philo) is located in the Madrones and makes for a great date night with cozy seating and a Mediterranean-style patio with lights and fountains. The menu changes daily based on what’s available from their farm, but be sure to order some local wine and a wood-fired pizza (the Jeffers pizza included turducken sausage and was incredible!).

A Place to Lay Your Head

Airbnb has some great options – cute farmhouses and vineyard homes in Boonville. Larger parties should check out the cozy ranch in Cloverdale or the hot tub/deck option in Boonville. And the Bunkhouse in Boonville would be great for a girls or singles trip.

Source: Bunkhouse's Facebook page
Source: Bunkhouse’s Facebook page

If the idea of staying on a sustainable farm with cooking classes sounds like a good time, check out the Philo Apple Farm. They also have lodging options for non-foodies.

Source: Philo Apple Farm's Facebook
Source: Philo Apple Farm’s Facebook page

And the Wild Iris Retreat (Philo) has some of the cutest (damn, I’m using that word a lot in this blog post) cottages I’ve ever seen. Wildflowers, seclusion and fireplaces? Yes, please.

Courtyard at the Madrones.
Courtyard at the Madrones.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Madrones (Philo). Totally quiet except for the sound of birds and fountains, this resort feels romantic and European. The grounds are covered in vibrant flowers and nooks to grab a seat and read…or drink the wine you purchased down the road. Bonus points? They have a killer restaurant with amazing pizza and several tasting rooms on-site.

Funtivities

Anderson Valley is super chill, and you could spend most of the weekend lounging at your accommodations.

Beyond that, the most obvious funtivity is wine tasting. Anderson Valley vineyards feel like what Napa must have been like before the whole world found out: minimal crowds, little or no tasting fees, super-friendly, winemaker pouring your tasting and plenty of dog-friendly tasting rooms.

You can check out a full map/list here, and my top three favorite wineries (from North to South) include:

  • Navarro Vineyards & Winery
    Dog Park at Navarro Winery

    (Philo): Fenced-in dog park (!!), picnic tables, flower beds of lavender and WiFi, which is rare in these parts. What’s more, their sister property Pennyroyal Farm is a dairy farm you can tour/visit. Because, cheese!

  • Meyer Family Cellars (Yorkville): I love every single one of their red varietals so go nuts. They’ve also got plenty of picnic tables, as well as bocce and horseshoes. Bonus? The winemaker is the son of one of my other favorites: Silver Oak Winery.
  • Yorkville Cellars (Yorkville): This winery has been growing grapes organically since 1986. If you don’t typically like white wine, try the Amber Folly. They sell gifts and snacks, and they have a killer deck overlooking the vines into the forest. One of the women working there actually asked if she could take our dogs for a walk while we tasted because she thought they were cute. So yeah, they’re super dog-friendly.

Hendy Woods State Park (Philo) has several redwood groves with the Navarro River running throughout. The best hike IMO is the Big Hendy: it’s super quick (1.4 miles) and easy with a ton of redwood trees.

And since you’re super close to the ocean, might as well jump on a horse and enjoy the scenic vistas. Ross Ranch (multiple locations) offers affordable beach ($60) and mountain ($50) 2-hour rides, and they can accommodate groups up to 11.

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Happy trails!

 

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