The Northern Tier

California’s northwest, with its majestic redwoods, breathtaking coastline and distance from any real population centers nurtures a hearty, self-sufficient individual some of whose forebears, centered around the Mendocino county town of Boonville, even spoke their own, nationally-recognized, linguistic jargon known as Boontling. Vines have been cultivated here since the mid-19th century, yet the great expansion of quality wine domains is only a few decades young.

Several AVA zones stretch from the more fog-influenced Anderson valley – its cool-climate sparkling wines crafted from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, its still wines from varieties like Gewurtztraminer and Pinot Gris – to the warmer, inland Redwood valley dominated by varieties such as Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. This vast viticultural region is increasingly in the spotlight as more artisan winemakers have migrated to this area and dramatically bolstered the region’s reputation.

Recently, at a Taste of Mendocino 2013 in San Francisco, a host of the best domains the area has to offer spoke of this passion for the vine presenting wines of high quality and diversity.

Witching Stick 2011 ChardOf the many producers in attendance, Witching Stick showed a range of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir cuvées that were quite impressive! Winemaker Van Williamson, having worked with such icons as Chateau Montelena, moved to the Anderson Valley in 1988, crafting wines for Greenwood Ridge Vineyards until 1994 and then Edmeades through the 2009 vintage. Morrison started Witching Stick with the 2010 Fashauer Vineyard Zinfandel. The New York Times Wine Club has said of the winemaker: “No winemaker better understands or appreciates Zinfandel than Williamson.” He is constantly seeking fruit from the state’s best vineyard sources to craft world-class wines.

On this day I was distinctly taken by his Pinot Noir offerings yet could not get past the delicious 2011 Durell vineyard chardonnay that is currently featured in Love The Wine You’re With.


Slave to the grape – worse fates there have been!

© Mick Cameron 2013

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