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A Taste of Mendocino County by Maureen McHugh

Mendocino2 Northern California is a beautiful place to visit in the spring; the warm afternoons and cool evenings make it the perfect transition from a Midwest winter. For the last few years my husband Steve and I have made this trip to spend some time with our west coast daughter. We always opt to stay in the “wine valley.” This year we ventured further north past the familiar Sonoma and Napa valleys to explore Mendocino and Lake County. We found the beauty of the mountains, the simplicity of the lifestyle, and the distance from crowds of tourists to be revitalizing.

We rented a lovely house on Clear Lake. The largest natural lake in California, it sits at the base of Mount Konocti, a dormant volcano with an elevation of 4,299 feet. We spent our time fishing, hiking, boating and relaxing. When the weather cooled, we headed to the Calistoga mineral baths for a day of massages and soaking. On our way back we dropped in at two of our favorite spots, Buster’s BBQ for lunch and Chateau Montelena for a glass of wine. A perfect way to spend a Monday!

mendocino3But what would a trip to Northern California be without a day of wine tasting? We were very interested in exploring Mendocino County. Located directly north of Sonoma, its laid back atmosphere reminded us of our trips to Napa 30 years ago when we would simply walk into a winery, enjoy a tasting, and meet the winemakers who many times were pouring our wine. Mendocino’s widespread focus on organic viticulture has given the area a reputation as “California’s organic wine Mecca.”

The town of Hopland is a wonderful way to get a feel for this beautiful area. It offers great restaurants and a few tasting rooms that sample local wine. It was at the Graziano Tasting Room that we that we tasted one of the wines that you can enjoy at Marché: St Gregory 2012 Pinot Noir. This is a classic Pinot Noir fermented in French Oak barrels – medium bodied with flavors or ripe cherries and toasty oak.

Next time you are at Marché, pick up a bottle of St Gregory for a little taste of Mendocino County.