Review: THE BUCKHORN BOONVILLE by Hairy Putter

7 07 2012

Individuals who follow me on Facebook may remember that I briefly mentioned stopping for a quick bite at the then newly re-opened Buckhorn restaurant in Boonville, California a few months ago. Recently I had the opportunity to call in again and enjoy a very satisfying experience and thought that it was time to share a more in-depth review.

The Buckhorn is helmed and operated by Chef and Owner Tom Towey who has put together menus that offer familiar fare with some delicious and unique twists. Open every day for lunch and dinner (except Tuesday and Wednesday) and for Saturday and Sunday Brunch, the Buckhorn has a cozy pub/club dining room and plenty of patio and deck seating. The patio is just perfect for soaking up the village feel of this gem of a town in the company of visitors and locals.

On a warm late spring evening, the uprights and I settled among several other diners at one of the outdoor patio tables. In short order a bus person arrived and set up place settings and brought water to the table. He asked if we would like water for me and of course, we said “yes” and shortly a delicious bowl of cool water was placed in front of me to savor. Soon our server arrived with menus and told us about the specials of the evening. He offered to give us some time to study the selections and said he would return shortly.

Looking over the menu I was torn between ordering the venison burger or the buffalo burger. My upright dads decided to go with the local Salmon Caesar Salad and the Ruben with a side of Sweet Potato Fries (yum, my favorite). Soon our server returned; we were just about to give him our order when a woman leaned over the railing from above the patio and in a loud excited voice said, “Is that Hairy Putter, oh my gosh – he does restaurant reviews!” Oops, my cover was blown. I had made the mistake of taking off my dark glasses disguise (a la Ruth Reichl) and my identity was revealed. The waiter looked up at the woman and she said, “Tom, this is Hairy Putter and he wrote a nice comment on Facebook about the Buckhorn, in fact, he is famous. I follow him and his reviews and he produces a great Pet Friendly Guide to Mendocino County.” So, our waiter was actually the owner, Tom, and the lady a regular diner and friend of Tom’s. Well, I felt like a true celebrity, she even came down to the patio to visit with me. Her name was Caroline and she lives in Sonoma County but travels to Mendocino regularly. I so enjoy meeting my followers; they are always so nice to come over and pat me and say sweet kind things.

Yummmm! Here comes by dinner.

The Buckhorn was out of venison that night so buffalo it was and was it tasty. My dads’ food was equally good. Grilled to perfection, moist, flaky salmon adorned a generous helping of crisp romaine lettuce that had been tossed in a delightfully creamy dressing with hints of garlic and anchovy. The Ruben was a generous sandwich with flavorful and tender corned beef, melted Swiss cheese and crisp sauerkraut. Insiders’ tip; the sweet potato fries were crisp on the outside, warm and soft on the inside and lightly dusted with brown sugar that combined beautifully with the natural sweetness of the sweet potato. They were paired with a sauce made with mayo, molasses, and buffalo wing hot sauce that made these fries out-of-this-world delicious. We enjoyed our meal very much; in fact, I can’t wait to go back to try the Weekend Brunch.

The Buckhorn serves a nice variety of beers, many crafted in the area in both 13 oz. and pints. The wine list is very comprehensive and has a balanced selection from some of the most popular award winning local wineries.

Tom was gracious and kind – he confessed that The Buckhorn is new to the doggy dining scene. So please make sure that if you go that you are in a good mood and on your best behavior. As with any place we travel we want to make sure that we are welcome back time and again. Boonville can now boast another great eating establishment that welcomes canine diners at their alfresco dining areas and I just can’t stop barking about that.  Tell them “Hairy sent me!”

The Buckhorn Boonville
14081 Highway 128, Boonville, CA
www.TheBuckhornBoonville.com





Review: Sheep Dung Properties by Hairy Putter

7 02 2012

Happy and free to roam is what a dog loves to be and at the Sheep Dung Properties for a very precious moment in time, we are.

Well you could have me chasing my tail with excitement at what I have discovered! Along Highway 128, in the town of Boonville in Mendocino County, a place exists in the heart of Anderson Valley where uprights and their beloved four legged companions can bask in the simple pleasure of over 800 acres of unspoiled nature in safety and tranquil isolation. Sheep Dung Properties, which includes The Other Place and Long Valley Ranch, offer canines and the uprights a wonderful opportunity to share an amazing human and doggie get-away experience, in what can only be described as a Doggie Paradise.

Hairy at the Breezeway

The Breezeway

Sheep Dung Properties is owned, designed, built, nurtured and operated with love, attention to detail, comfort and sophistication by Ann and Aaron Bennett. These two amazingly talented and conservation-conscious Anderson Valley locals have created a get-away sanctuary of amazing serenity, offering guests the ultimate in private indulgence and comfort. Formally Sheep Dung Estates, Ann and Aaron relocated and changed the name from Estates to Properties in 2003, when they sold the original Sheep Dung Estates that had been an off-the-grid hidden oasis since 1991 in the town of Yorkville and bought 800 acres of what was once The Moonie Ranch of the Unification Church founded by Sun Myung Moon.

I first had the opportunity to get to know Ann when we worked together at Bark in the Park in San Jose in 2011, and along with providing me with lots of yummy treats she told me all about some incredible properties that she has in Anderson Valley where I could run free. Could this really be true? Well little did I know that an invitation for me to come and stay had been offered and my dads had arranged for us to spend a couple of days at the Other Place property.

Regular followers of my blog know how much I love a road trip. So you will not be too surprised to learn that once I saw my traveling bag and all the goodies that go into it on the bed in the guest room, I never left either one of my dads’ sides until I made sure that everything I would need was safely packed and loaded in the car, especially me.

We were to stay at The Breezeway one of four distinct “California County Cottages” as Ann likes to describe them. The Other Place is situated overlooking the town of Boonville, with magnificent views of the picturesque Anderson Valley. Our cottage was one of two original structures that were used as chinchilla barns. Darn, I did check and there are no chinchillas left to play with.

Here’s how I first knew this was going to be a really cool place. Once you turn into the property off Highway 128 you drive through the middle of a vineyard, over a cool modern bridge and begin to climb the valley side. We had to first stop and open a gate, drive the car through and of course close it back up. When we arrived and pulled up to our abode my dads opened the car door as usual and guess what? I was not told to wait while a leash (or as I refer to it a ‘The Freedom Preventer’ is attached) my dad just said “Hairy, off you go,” well I wasn’t quite sure if I had heard right, so I gave him a curious look, a slight tilt of my head and my best wide eyed stare and waited for clarification. “It’s OK Hairy, you can go.” Well this dog did not need telling twice. So leash free, I jumped out of the car and immediately my senses were overwhelmed by the assortment of smells that enveloped me, automatically my nose twitched excitedly, I aimed it down to the ground and I was off exploring. I started with the rocks and shrubs closest to the house, after a brief exploration of the Weber Grill, then I climbed the stairs to inspect the wood stack. Suddenly I found myself looking through the entrance of the Breezeway and I felt like I was on top of the world as stretched out before me was the amazing Anderson Valley, viewed from way on high in all its magnificent glory, as I had never seen it before.

Breezeway cottage interior

My View

One of my dads had disappeared inside the cottage and the other had begun to unload the car of all my goodies, so I thought it best if I accompanied him. Usually several trips to unload the car are made and I wanted to make sure that they did not forget anything, especially if it belonged to me. Also, there were some more very curious smells I needed to investigate, could they be the ghost of chinchillas past? With everything unloaded from the car, I found myself staring out of this wall of glass with its unparalleled panoramic views, savoring the tranquility and marveling at the vista before us. Noticing my curiosity and fixation on the view my dad quickly brought one of the footstools over to the window and put my seat pillow on it, I jumped up and while my dads unpacked I sat contentedly watching nature and the world.

A little while later my bowls were set out (metal dog bowls and place mats are provided if you forget yours) and a nice cool drink of water sounded really good, so off I hopped from my perch and after quenching my thirst I decided it was time for another investigation of the house. As I toured the inside of the building I noticed that there were more doors that open onto outside decks, off the living room and off the master bedroom. All of a sudden, I was in one door and out another, darting across the breezeway from one part of the house to the other. Then down the steps where I roamed from one garden bed to another, wait there were rolling hills to explore and lawns to frolic on and bushes and trees with interesting smells to say ‘hello’ to. All in all I had close to four acres to explore securely that were all mine during our stay as every area at the Other Place is completely fenced. Of course my dads don’t really ever let me out of their sight, so even with this vast potential for freedom I have to stay visible and within calling distance, but it doesn’t stop me from having a very good romp.

The Breezeway

The Breezeway

After some time of unadorned exploration and as dusk descended I rested a while on one of the Adirondack chairs and stared contentedly across the valley. Then all of a sudden I heard voices, I heard familiar voices, I turned around and looked back towards the house and there were my dear friends Robert and Travis. I quickly jumped down and raced over to give them lots of kisses. Soon we were all watching the sunset and I was listening to the uprights clinking glasses and laughing, watching the sun set and the landscape grow dark. I was snuggly warm on my upright’s lap, being petted by the hands of uprights I adore, safe from the harms of this world, capturing and storing all those great memories that I will relive time and again in my dreams. As darkness settled over the valley, the uprights drove into the town of Boonville and as I napped in the car the uprights had what I heard them refer to as a wonderful dinner at Lauren’s Restaurant. [For more on the town read my Boonville review].

Breakfast in the Breezeway

After a warm snuggly night where I dreamed of continued freedom, I woke up in the morning refreshed and ventured once again outside to make a very thorough investigation of the property. During the night I had heard activity of the nocturnal kind and so I knew that we had night visitors. So off I went as I needed to find out who they were and what they had left for me to sniff and mark, after all this was my domain for two days. After my morning constitutional and chasing of the odd rabbit and wild turkey, I sat once more in the Adirondack chairs and watched the morning traffic below (birds, cattle and such) while posing for more photos. After such a busy morning I was glad to return inside where I sat at the dining table and had a delicious breakfast with my dads of chicken apple sausage, scrambled eggs, croissants and fresh fruit. I then took the opportunity to take a quick siesta as the uprights cleaned up the breakfast things. Throughout the Breezeway Cottage there are so many eye level perches for me to sit and stare and to keep an attentive eye, to do my job and keep good guard over the uprights that I love.

Doggie Diner Mascot

After breakfast more fun and adventure awaited, we took a trip back down the hill to the office to meet the owner, Anne, and Renee the office manager. Here I came upon a very bizarre and fun sculpture with a wonderful Californian history. Welcoming The Other Place visitors is one of the original mascot heads that adorned the Doggie Diner Hot Dog chain’s Santa Rosa location. (For a fun and historic perspective of this unique piece of Americana check out this link: http://doggiediner.com/pages/hist_main.html).

When we finally went back up the hill, we got to explore the pond were I am told in the warmer months is a perfect place for canine and humans alike to cool off and the Old Red Barn that is in the process of being lovingly restored. At The Other Place we are not just confined to our own private four fenced-in acres, we are free to wander and hike the various nature trails with our uprights chaperoning us, of course. After all there are other two and four-legged occupants of The Other Place that also call this paradise home and some may not always want to play.

For the second night of our stay the uprights decided to eat in. They had picked up some supplies from some of the local Boonville stores, premade lasagna, local organic produce for a salad, crusty artisan bread and cheese (my favorite) and more excellent local wine. So with a roaring fire, me by their side and the amazing sight of a winter storm gathering on the horizon, we spent a truly satisfying evening as a family.

At the Other Place and Long Valley Ranch, rural sophistication melds seamlessly with nature. Each separate dwelling is unique in architecture and landscape. Each of the Sheep Dung properties is self-contained and fully equipped. The Breezeway has a wood stove fire that really did its job quickly and efficiently. The cottage has books, a DVD player, iPod station, Wi-Fi, board games and pay per view movies in addition to the normal television line up. The Breezeway has a full kitchen and had been thoughtfully stocked with breakfast items from local purveyors; from the Mosswood Café and Bakery there was delicious and healthy breakfast granola, and also included were Clover Dairy milk, delicious Pomo Tierra Orchards organic apple cider, coffee, tea and sweeteners. Oh, and of course, a welcome bottle of wine from one of the vineyards in Anderson Valley, one of the greenest wine growing regions in Mendocino County and the Country.

Even though excellent directions for finding the properties are provided, my dads had some difficulty locating the main entrance off of Highway 128 in Boonville. However, knowing how directionally challenged my dads can sometimes be, it wasn’t that big a surprise. The signage is very discreetly marked which can make it a little bit of a challenge especially if you arrive at night.

So now that you know that Sheep Dung Properties is a little slice of Doggie Heaven in Mendocino County, make sure that your uprights tell their friends who may not have four legged children about Sheep Dung, because it is too good a place not to share.

Whether it is a two night, a week or a month stay, and no matter what the season, a visit to Sheep Dung is always a relaxing and revitalizing experience. If you book, tell them Hairy sent you: www.sheepdung.com.

Hairy





Review: The Madrones by Hairy Putter

29 12 2011

The Madrones

By now most of you who read my blog regularly know how pet friendly the wineries of Mendocino County are and what unique experiences each one provides its four legged visitors along with their uprights. So imagine the thrill when I heard about a wine tasting location in Anderson Valley that has recently opened encompassing three of my most favorite things, wine tasting, cheese tasting and shopping all in one exquisite experience.

The Madrones is a Mediterranean style complex that has been a work in progress for the last 20 years by owner Jim Roberts. Featuring intimate courtyards, relaxing water features, colorful flora and outside café tables all meld together to create a serene setting that is just perfect for sipping exquisite small batch handcrafted wines and nibbling on artisan cheeses. Located in the town of Philo, The Madrones has had several incarnations, beginning its life as a rural homestead, then morphing itself into a design center and creative think tank and now to its new reincarnation as a classic Mediterranean Estate housing the tasting rooms for a unique collection of award-winning handcrafted/small lot wineries. These include Lula Cellars (I am particularly fond of this name as it is the nickname of my best girlfriend Tallulah, a delightful French bulldog.), Drew Family Cellars, Berridge Wine Company and Bink Wines. Each winery has a separate tasting room within The Madrones; offering the visitor an intimate and very personal wine tasting experience. All of the tasting rooms welcome us with bowls of fresh water and yummy treats. You may even be lucky to meet Rupert an extremely sociable and friendly mixed breed fellow who is often at The Madrones. With his upright Monica, the tasting manager for Bink Wines, his job is greeting and making us four legged visitors very welcome.

Hairy at Lula Cellar's

Hairy at Lula Cellar's

A particular gem of a store at The Madrones is the Sun & Cricket which offers a very different shopping experience for the discerning visitor. Their mantra is “Fine Rural Living and Tools for the Journey.” Specializing in an eclectic mix of books, antiques, classic toys, garden tools and one of a kind items. The store also features a select offering of fine artisan cheeses and best of all we get to go shopping there too. As you wander around this space you will hear the uprights marvel at the delightful treasures displayed. I, however, was quite content to sit patiently in front of the glass case that contained the array of delicious cheeses as I waited for a nibble of the yummy samples.

The Madrones Estate has two beautifully appointed luxurious guest suites; unfortunately at this time they are not pet friendly but I have been told that they hope to offer a pet friendly accommodation soon. As soon as it is open you can be assured that I will check it out, my canine brethren. Garden tours of the estate and gardening workshops are also available and times and dates can be found under the events calendar on the website: www.themadrones.com.

The Madrones is a wonderful place to experience anytime and a great place to chill for a spell and soak up the natural beauty and charm of Mendocino County. The Madrones offers a perfect slice of Mediterranean living in picturesque Anderson Valley.

Salute

Hairy





Review: Boonville, California by Hairy Putter

24 01 2011

Happy 2011 faithful readers and lots of happy tail wagging to my canine friends.

Writing my reviews

Even though I have not posted anything recently, it does not mean that I have been lounging around, sleeping, eating, running on the beach and having a thoroughly good old time. Well maybe it does, but my friends, I have also been ‘out and about’ gathering material and exploring new and exciting pet friendly locations to talk to you about. So, as we enter 2011, I am looking forward to sharing my experiences and helping everyone get the most out of traveling (with your uprights, of course) to Mendocino County and beyond.

Keeping it local, I want to talk to you about the charming town of Boonville, located on Highway 128 in the heart of Anderson Valley, California and share with you some of its charming history. I’ll also let you know about some places to stop for a great meal, exciting liquid refreshment and fun shopping and social opportunities.

Boonville was founded in 1862 and as you explore the town you can still see lots of examples of the period and get a wonderful sense of the town’s history especially from many of the town’s original buildings. Boonville is also the home of the Boontling folk language, in fact the beer produced and bottled in Boonville at the pet friendly award winning Anderson Valley Brewing Company has the motto “it’s bahl hornin’”, which means “it’s good drinkin’” in Boontling. For more Boonville history and Boontling word examples a good site to visit is www.andersonvalleymuseum.org.

Today, Boonville continues to be the heartbeat of Anderson Valley and is the setting for many of the Valley’s cultural, art and gastronomic festivals and events. The Anderson Valley Film Festival will take place Jan 28th – 30th 2011. The Alsatian Varietals wine festival is held at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds each February. In early spring the annual Boonville Beer Festival is held at the fairgrounds, featuring beers from over 50 craft breweries. The Pinot Noir Festival is held in May. In July, the Wool-growers’ Sheepdog Trials is held at the fairgrounds. Boonville also hosts the long-running Sierra Nevada World Music Festival on the weekend of the summer solstice. Then Boonville hosts the annual Mendocino County Fair in September.

Boonville still maintains an old world feel; currently the town is home to some great wine tasting rooms, cafés, quaint shops and affordable art and craft galleries. It’s a pedestrian friendly town; many of the towns’ businesses have outdoor seating which makes sharing the Boonville experience with your uprights even more appealing.

Boonville General Store

One of my favorite places to have lunch is the Boonville General Store. With indoor and outdoor seating this friendly café creates fresh delicious breads, baked goods, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pastry items using organic and local ingredients. We are always welcome at any of the outdoor tables. A fun story I want to share, a few weeks ago my uprights and I arrived at the Bakery for a quick bite of lunch and it was pouring rain, but luckily a few of the outdoor picnic tables are covered. At the adjoining table were two ladies and their four-legged companion. As I was jumping up to my seat, they looked at me and said in unison, “Is that Hairy Putter?” Of course upon hearing my name, I immediately had to go over and personally introduce myself. The ladies were from Berkeley and are fans of moi and recognized me immediately as they are devoted followers of my blog and use my reviews to plan their trips. How flattering is that!

Mosswood Market

A few doors further along is the Mosswood Market, again with indoor and outdoor seating, so you and your uprights can enjoy creative Panini Sandwiches, homemade soups, salads and Mexican- influenced items in a sidewalk aesthetic . Usually both of these cafés have water bowls for us, but if not, just ask and one will be brought out.

Some other highlights of Boonville are the award winning winery of Zina Hyde Cunningham. This pet friendly tasting room has a great bar tasting counter, friendly staff and of course an opportunity to taste some extraordinary award winning wines. The Boonville Hotel’s restaurant, Table 128, has patio dining (seasonal) and is a place to experience imaginative cuisine created from local and seasonal ingredients. Well behaved canines are welcome at the patio tables.

Laughing Dog Bookstore

A ‘must stop’ is the Laughing Dog Bookstore where we are sure to get the attention we deserve and, if we are really well behaved, a treat is always on hand along with a very welcome bowl of cool water to quench the thirst of a bibliophile canine . This newly opened independent book store is the dream of Loretta and Dan Houck and is a haven for all things literature and dogs. The Laughing Dog has a wonderfully varied selection of new and used books, an indoor reading room along with a great outdoor patio seating area (seasonal) for us canines to chill out and join our uprights in soaking up some of the valley rays while enjoying a good read. With authors’ reading events, book club meetings, free Wi-Fi, local artists’ work adorning the walls (Feb 2011 will be a Puppy Love: A show of Dog Photography), it is a wonderful place to chill. With the blessing of Loretta and Dan’s four-legged children, MOCA and Stanley, you too will be a Laughing Dog after a visit to this most dog friendly book store.

If you plan on staying in or near Boonville for overnight or longer, a few places to consider are: The Boonville Hotel which has a couple of pet friendly guest accommodations. The Anderson Valley Inn, Highlands Guest Ranch, Ravenridge Cottages, The Other Place and the Long Valley Ranch. For a full listing please download my Visit Mendocino County Pet Friendly Travel Guide. Also, don’t forget to stop in at Yorkville Cellars Winery, just before Boonville if coming in on Highway 128 from Cloverdale, to experience some great organic wine at one of Anderson Valley’s pet friendly wineries.

When you go to Boonville you are sure to have a “Bahlest” time.





Review: Esterlina Vineyards & Winery by Hairy Putter

5 09 2010

I chose Esterlina as my first “by appointment winery” to review because my  dads and I have met the immediate members of the Sterling family at various events, sampled and enjoyed many of their award-winning wines and have been intrigued with the family story. The Sterling family has the distinction of being one of only a handful of African American vintners and winemakers in the United States.  Patriarch Murio and his four sons, Eric – Wine Maker, Steve, who is in sales and marketing, Chris, Vineyard Manager and Assistant Winemaker and Craig who handles the legal affairs and assists in sales, comprise the nucleus of the Sterling family. The Sterling family story is fascinating and I highly recommend visiting their website for additional background information on this charismatic family, www.esterlinavineyards.com.
 

Esterlina Vineyard

Several months ago, I visited Esterlina when the winery was hosting a special event. After having one of nicest times (there were lots of other four-pawed guests to play with, along with their uprights), I felt it was time to pay a call on this ”By Appointment Only” winery to get the proper Esterlina tasting experience.

Esterlina has several vineyards including Everett Ridge (Sonoma County), the only winery in Cole Ranch (Mendocino County) which happens to be the smallest appellation in the USA, and the postcard-perfect Esterlina Vineyards and Winery and tasting room in Anderson Valley, also located in Mendocino County.  At these locations the Sterling family creates and produces respected and award winning wines.  Collectively, the wineries produce, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling to name a few varietals. In fact, the Riesling produced at Cole Ranch has been served at the White House under the last four Presidents including the current President, President Obama.

When making an appointment you will be given detailed instructions on how to get to the winery.  As you turn off Highway 128 and slowly begin your ascent to Esterlina, you enter a realm of complete tranquility as nature’s sights and sounds engulf you.  Once you arrive at Esterlina a warm and genuine welcome awaits, it may be by one of the brothers or if you are really lucky, Mr. Murio Sterling himself will be your gracious host during your visit. Aided by a knowledgeable and very personable staff, you are literally welcome guests in the Sterling’s home and this is reflected throughout the tasting experience.  In fact Esterlina is sterling in Spanish.

Tastings are conducted either inside an intimate tasting room or on one of the outside decks that offer breathtaking views of the vineyards that surround the Esterlina estate along with the awe-inspiring Anderson Valley displayed before you. The tasting experience is casual, informative, fun and exceedingly pet-friendly.       

Shady decks for wine tasting

I was greeted by Patty Liddy, Esterlina’s Tasting Room Director and my uprights were asked if I could have a welcome treat (like they dared to say “no”).  After taking some time to sniff my way around the shaded garden area and have a drink of water from one of several water bowls placed around the winery, we were invited to go up the stairs to the viewing deck where our tasting experience was to take place.  Having seated ourselves around a family style table we were left to contemplate the breathtaking view, while Patty excused herself so she could begin to bring out the accouterments necessary to begin the wine tasting ritual.   I was most interested in the divided bowl that housed a selection of crackers, pretzels, cheese snacks and other delicious items that soon appeared on the table.  Shortly, we were joined by a couple who have visited this Esterlina Winery several times; they made a very good impression by bestowing large amounts of attention on me.  If there are specific wines that you would like to try on your visit, especially some of the reserves and limited editions, request these in advance so that they can be available.  As this was our first Esterlina tasting experience, Patty had pre-selected an assortment of varietals and vintages to give us a comprehensive sampling of the range of wines they produce.

Captivating, relaxing, and satisfying, describe the Esterlina approach to wine tasting. To keep this atmosphere is why Esterlina and many other wineries have a “By Appointment Only” policy.  Patty was very engaging and knowledgeable, asking pertinent questions of her guests to ascertain their preferences and guiding us to wines that match or came close to the criteria expressed.   Several other parties brought a picnic lunch to enjoy with the tasting.   Esterlina’s spectacular and breathtaking environment is the perfect venue to have a very personal guide to the variety of wines produced at all the Esterlina Vineyards.  Oh, and let’s not forget the warmhearted welcome, abundant head rubs, crackers and heaps of attention that we canines get.

Four Very Enthusiastic Paws for Esterlina.





Review: Yorkville Cellars, Anderson Valley, by Hairy Putter

17 04 2010

 Yorkville Cellars’ tasting room and estate vineyards are located on highway 128 at mile marker 40.4, in the tiny village of Yorkville, about halfway between Cloverdale and Boonville, in beautiful Mendocino County, California.

Yorkville Cellars Tasting Room

Yorkville Cellars Tasting Room

 Yorkville Cellars has a very charming and intimate tasting room that is very dog friendly, starting with the bowl of fresh water outside on the deck for us thirsty canines, a welcome treat once inside and, of course, plenty of ear rubs. Located on the grounds outside the tasting room are picnic tables situated idyllically under magnificent old growth oak trees that provide some well needed shade in summer. They are perfect for taking in the majesty of Anderson Valley, for when it gets a little crowded inside the tasting room and to enjoy a fine bottle of Yorkville’s award winning wines.    

 Upon entering the tasting room, I was greeted by lots of tail wagging from Shadow, the resident Black Labrador, and a purr or two from Pinky, the black cat. Bill, who was the wine taster and host on duty the day we visited, immediately offered me a welcome cookie and plenty of ear rubs. 

 Yorkville Cellars produces many award winning wines in various varietals.  In fact, they are the only Mendocino County winery that grows and bottles all six original Bordeaux varietals at one winery. Yorkville Cellars was first certified as Organic in 1986 by the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). They have been a leading proponent of the method and an example to other wineries ever since. 

Hairy with Yorkville Cellars wine

Hairy with Yorkville Cellars wine

 There are some wonderful historical story’s attached to the naming of some of the wines that Bill was only happy to share, I highly recommend visiting their website for more information on this fascinating winery, www.yorkvillecellars.com. If you click on the recent video of Shadow giving you a virtual tour or the You-Tube button, you can view several short videos that capture the unique personality of this quintessential Mendocino County enterprise. I also highly recommend on their home page going to Our Wines and then Royal Pair where you will learn the Royal & French Bordeaux connection to Yorkville Cellars, fascinating.

 Not only do Edward & Deborah Wallo along with their award winning winemaking team produce delicious wines in environmentally conscientious fashion, their fun and engaging staff offers the visitor a very personal and fascinating experience at the funky and fun tasting facility. Be sure to read the fascinating wine fun facts located on the walls. 

 Yorkville Cellars provides water, treats, and attention: therefore, I give them three enthusiastic paws.

Yorkville Cellers
25701 Highway 128
P.O. Box 3
Yorkville, CA 95494
(707) 894-9177





Review: Toulouse Vineyards & Navarro Vineyards by Hairy Putter

26 07 2009

Visiting my friends at Toulouse and Navarro Vineyards in Anderson Valley, California, for two different wine tasting experiences with temperatures reaching up to 100+ degrees inland and a welcoming cool 60 degrees here on the Mendocino Coast my caretakers decided to take me on an excursion to see how my human & canine friends at Toulouse winery and my human friends at Navarro winery were fairing in the rising heat. So packing plenty of water, sunscreen along with my sunshades we headed out through the early morning fog from Fort Bragg to the eternal July sunshine of Anderson valley. The drive as usual was breathtaking in its scenic and varying climatic variances.

Our 1st stop was in Philo so my Dad’s could stop at Libby’s Restaurant for an early lunch. Although Libby’s does not offer outside dining, my dad’s found parking in deep shade for me. The outside temperature was very comfortable with a cross breeze that kept me cool and content. This was my dad’s first visit to Libby’s and by the sounds of their enthusiastic conversation as we continued our journey after their lunch onto the wineries; they enjoyed their experience very much. Libby’s offers delicious and generous portions of traditional Mexican fare and a few American standards in a café setting along with pleasant and efficient service.

Emme

Emme

As we continued our journey into the heart of Anderson Valley the temperature continued to rise as well as my excitement, especially as we turned off Highway 128 into the Toulouse Vineyard . Climbing up the hill towards the winery, I knew exactly where I was headed with ears pricked, tail wagging and nose twitching, I couldn’t wait to be let out of the car. Greeting us, as always as we pulled into the parking lot, was Emme (Vern and Maxine Boltz, Toulouse Vineyard Owner’s) adorable Havanese, along with Tess their golden lab and Tess number two, a half English Bull Dog and half Border Collie that belongs to Kathy and her husband who work at the vineyard. After plenty of sniffing, tail wagging and marking of my arrival, I noticed that Tess number two had a tennis ball. Well, that needed to be rectified pronto in a moment of Tess’s inattentiveness, I seized my opportunity and purloined it. Alas the ball had already been stripped of its fur and that somewhat put a damper on my steal, as that is the part I have the most fun with, the removal of the fur from a tennis ball. That is why they are contraband in my home because my vet told my dad’s that too much shedding of tennis balls can be extremely bad for my teeth and gums. Thank goodness I spotted Vern and Maxine’s parrot to distract me from my disappointment with the tennis ball. What a curious thing this Parrot bird is, as it sits happy as a clam on its perch in a large airy cage and torments me by being so close yet so far. I sit and stare intently until it moves and startles me, eliciting a bark or two. Soon I am told to be quiet by my dads and encouraged to come inside the cool shade of the tasting room to meet my human friends at Toulouse. First I go to the water bowl for a well needed thirst quencher and then I begin my rounds of investigation of the other visitors to the winery.

Toulouse Vineyard

Toulouse Vineyard

Vern Boltz is usually always on hand to greet and share his passion of winemaking with the steady stream of wine enthusiast that stop in at the winery. “The vision for Toulouse Vineyards is to grow the highest quality grapes using sustainable farming practices and to produce the finest Pinot Noir infused with the fun and passion of winemaking. For Vern and Maxine Boltz, it has been an exciting journey beginning as fruit growers and evolving into producers of award-winning wines”.

Toulouse wines are receiving raves from not only loyal customers but from giants of the wine industry, from placing high in The Wine Spectator’s best Pinots to inclusion in Food & Wine Magazine’s worlds 30 best Pinot Noirs and the accolades keep on coming. Pinots are not Toulouse Vineyards only successful wine, their Pinot Gris, Riesling & Gewürztraminer are beginning to rival other revered brands.

Tasting wine at Toulouse is literally being in a good friend’s home. The tasting room is the barrel room below the Boltz’s residence; the Toulouse staff are nearly all long time friends of Vern & Maxine, all share the passion and enthusiasm of the wine process and business. As well as the barrel tasting room, shaded picnic tables are available on the patio offering a superb panorama of the majesty of Anderson Valley. There is a shared camaraderie between all employees and the public who visit Toulouse, where an inviting casual atmosphere welcomes two legged and four legged visitors with equal enthusiasm and hospitality. When my dad’s were first investigating pet friendly wineries in Anderson valley the response from Toulouse when asked on the phone if dogs were welcome was “You bet, bring them In”. Fellow canine Anderson Valley visitors – you will thank your caregivers for a visit to Toulouse.

Toulouse Vineyards, 8001 Highway 128, Philo, CA
www.toulousevineyards.com

Reluctantly leaving my friends at Toulouse and armed with a few bottles of wine to add to my caregiver’s cellar, we departed for another favorite vineyard of mine, Navarro. Navarro Vineyards is a long time favorite of visitors and Mendocino County locals. Producing exciting and exceptional wines in many varietals since 1973, Navarro encompasses over 900 acres in the beautiful splendor of Anderson Valley. Not only does Navarro wine win major awards and prestiges accolades from industry insiders, it receives constant praise and endorsements from local restaurants that feature their wines and the general public that continue to discover and revisit year after year the quality and variety of this Anderson valley wine producing gem.

The vineyard is easily accessible from Highway 128 and has ample parking, beautiful landscaping, several picnic areas, a wonderful reflecting pool built to honor a beloved black lab of the family and a great space for caregivers to allow us to utilize for the call of nature. They even have a poop scoop bag dispenser for extra connivance. Bowls of water for thirsty dogs are located outside the tasting room on the back deck.

Exiting the car, I make my way eagerly to the tasting room where I know my good friend Pat and Jackie and the whole Navarro tasting room crew will welcome me with affection and most importantly treats. Navarro is always a popular and a fun wine tasting experience. The staff is knowledgeable and pleasant, and dogs are very welcome to partake in the wine tasting experience at Navarro. Navarro is a great venue in the valley for a picnic and this is greatly encouraged. The staff, as well as educating the public about their wines, will happily accommodate your picnicking needs. The tasting room has a refrigerator where a selection of pate and cheeses along with crackers and various accoutrement can be purchased and if you have forgotten to bring with your picnic a knife and chopping board, Navarro has a few on hand to loan.

Navarro Vineyard

Navarro Vineyard

You will find fellow wine enthusiasts at all times of the day idyllically grazing (just like the sheep you will see at Navarro feasting between the vines – another anomaly of the animal world to me). Like me, visitors were socializing and nibbling on delicious food while gazing at the magnificence of the valley that is surrounding them. Many guests were sharing like my dad’s these moments of magic with their four legged companions. “Wine is sunlight, held together by water” (Galileo Galilei 1564-1642) – never can a quote hold so true as enjoying a glass of Navarro wine outside on a warm summer day at one of the winerie’s picnic tables, many located under the flowering wisteria in the gardens overlooking the vines of one of the oldest and beloved vineyards in Anderson Valley.

Navarro Vineyard, 5601 Highway 128, Philo, CA
http://navarrowine.com





Review: Goldeneye Winery by Hairy Putter

2 07 2009

Recently a dear Yorkshire Terrier girlfriend of mine, Miss Ruby, and her caregivers came for a visit. My dads decided to take us all for a trip to some pet friendly wineries in Anderson Valley.

After a picturesque 45-minute ride down from the coast through the redwood forests we arrived at our first winery of the day, Goldeneye. This winery has a world wide reputation for excellence in producing award winning Pinot Noirs. Our visit took place on a Sunday and we had chosen this day of the week especially to partake of Goldeneye’s Confluence Estate Vineyard Tour & Alfresco Lunch. Reservations either through their website www.goldeneye.com or by telephone 1-800-208-0438 are required for this experience.

Goldeneye Winery

Goldeneye Winery

Guest with pets, are required to keep their pets on a leash at all times and to please enter the vineyards grounds through the side entrances rather than the main house. Both paths are easily accessed and beautifully landscaped with plenty of interesting smells to mark. There are no poop bags provided so please have your caregivers carry a supply at all times.

The back patio garden overlooks one of many vineyards that Goldeneye uses to grow, buy and harvest their grapes from across the valley. It is this variance in altitude and terroir that influence and contribute to the subtle different growing conditions of the grapes, which help create the award winning pinots that my caregivers will shortly be trying.

While we were waiting for the wine tour to begin, Miss Ruby and I had plenty of opportunity to walk around this gorgeous property with its gentle bubbling water feature, manicured lawns adorned with Adirondack chairs. The chairs are just perfect for lounging with us on your laps or by your side along with a glass of red or blush pinot noir nectar as you gaze silently, soaking up the quintessential Anderson Valley views of majestic rows of vines beginning to turn their emerald green leaves into a kaleidoscope of fall color with their varying hues of yellows, orange and reds (more about the colors later).

Our docent arrived punctually at 11am to begin the tour, after introducing herself to our caregivers, and of course their canine companions. Lynn, the docent, proceeded to give a brief outline of the history of the winery and its accomplishments; she regaled us with delightful personal stories of her adventures as a farmer and wine grower in Anderson Valley, from raising goats to biodynamic and organic practices. Lynn also acted as wine taster/pourer and lunch server, she was personable and engaging throughout our two hours at Goldeneye.

Beginning the walking part of tour (you don’t walk far on the whole tour) Lynn proceeded to lead the group down the central path between the rows of vines. Pausing at a row, Lynn showed and explained to us Goldeneye’s vine identification system and shared some of Goldeneye’s insights for their growing, planting, varietal and bottling methods, recounting some of the experiences of Zach Rasmuson, Goldenye’s resident blending & winemaking maestro.

While listening intently to Lynn, one could not help noticing that the majority of the vines were turning yellow but the odd vine had orange and red leaves. This observation was addressed by Lynn; she explained that the only healthy color for a vine in fall is varying shades of yellow, the variance in leaf color of the vines was an indication of the vine having been compromised by nature, usually an insect of some kind, that can with patience and fast action be treated and the vine saved. When touring vineyards in the fall, yellow vine leaves equal healthy, orange to red not so much. Miss Ruby and I did not mind either way, they were all great for smelling and marking as well as for playing chase with the odd frog and small lizard that happened to come into our presence.

Once the walking part of the tour drew to a close, we made our way back to the garden. The weather was slightly overcast with patchy sun and it was perfect for sitting outside on the elegant patio furniture with our caregivers as the wine tasting and lunch portion of the tour began. In inclement weather, tasting and lunch is served in the main house.

Hairy at Tasting Table

Hairy at Tasting Table

Bowls of cool water were offered to Miss Ruby and I, these were very welcome. The wine tasting at Goldeneye is different from most tasting rooms in that you are served at a table by a host who delivers the glass of wine, explaining a little about it and sets it on a coaster that is also an information sheet. This souvenir coaster describes the wine, its’ notes, along with pertinent information about this particular year’s production and crafting in far more detail. Everyone agreed this was a very stylish and clever way to better understand the wine you were sampling.

The tasting began with Goldeneye’s Migration Pinot Blush served cool; this wine is a refreshing way to start. In all, six varying style Pinot’s ranging in complexity and price were tasted. Lunch was served during the tasting, from a selection choice (made at time of reservation) of fresh focaccia bread filled either with chicken salad and capers, sliced hard boiled egg and cheese or roasted vegetables including, peppers, mushrooms & zucchini. I had a little of each and they were all yummy. All the sandwiches were served with a small side of fresh figs, strawberries or nectarines and accompanied by a generous garden salad of fresh mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette. A plate consisting of slivers of a semi-hard aged Spanish cheese, dried almonds and dried cherries was also served; this is the usual accompaniment to the wine tastings at Goldeneye and each of these foods help bring out the unique aromas and characters of the wines. No water was offered with the lunch for our caregivers (which would have been welcome). Miss Ruby and I did partake of some cheese and for Miss Ruby bell peppers, from one of her caregiver’s sandwich, which she adores.

The Pinot Noir grape is known as the Heartbreak Grape, because it is” Hard to Grow” and “Hard to Make Money From”. The Confluence Estate Vineyard Tour & Alfresco Lunch experience at Goldeneye is a wonderful intimate way to learn more about the minute details of the growing and handling of such a delicate grape, while sharing in the joy these winemakers have in all the processes of their craft. To be able to taste and experience the fruits of all that effort and passion in such a beautiful setting, alongside your favorite canine companion is a true magical Anderson Valley experience.

Hairy gives Goldeneye Winery four PAWS.

FourPaws








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