One of my favorite things to do, especially in the springtime, is visit my cabin in Mendocino. Aside from the memories of my kids growing up there and the beautiful “tree-house-esque” architecture of it, I have found that all of the splendor lies outside of it. It is a place that I can go to ground myself, a place that takes me out of the day-to-day chaos (although a good problem to have) that I am so accustomed to. Redwood grove forests that the drive takes me through and majestic plants that I find when I hike never cease to fascinate me, no matter how many times I am presented with them.
Recently, I took the drive to my cabin for the first time this year and made some stops along the way. Lately I have been thinking a lot about “warm weather wines” and how they have changed so dramatically in California over the past couple of decades. Long gone are the days of overly sweet, white zinfandel that had conformed to a California palate unknowing of all of the wonderful wines that were out there. Intrigued, I dove deeper into the topic and found a fantastic article in Sunset Magazine’s April edition, which ultimately led me to one exciting stop on the way to my short retreat. The article, titled “Moscato for grown-ups” written by Sara Schneider is a comical, short story about a mother, and her devotion to instilling good wine habits in her newly “of drinking age” daughter. For Sara, the stigma of a “sweet” California wine lingered in her mind after her daughter requested Moscato for dinner. Instead of trying to convince her daughter that Moscato was surely not what she wanted to be drinking, she took the request as a challenge.
After reading the article, I decided I would put myself through the same test, determined to change my own mind about what I once believed to be cheap, sweet, summer wine. After much research, I was anxious to stop at a winery that I was hoping would leave a good taste in my mouth. Navarro Winery and Vineyards in Anderson Valley, California. I walked in feeling confident, but still somewhat skeptical; nonetheless excited to be at a winery I haven’t visited before and to chat with people I’ve never met. I was honest with the tasting room hostess, and told her that I needed to taste something specific, something that would make me remember Navarro. So, there I was swirling a glass of 2011 Muscat Blanc, hoping that I wouldn’t have to force a fake smile and run out of there empty-handed falsely assuring them I would be back! The nose, elegant, not overpoweringly fruity, but had a rather refreshing citrus quality that danced around the glass. After the first sip, my mission had been justified. The pleasant, acidic citrus flavors in the wine were perfectly balanced with apricot and peach layers. This wine is a far cry from what I had remembered sipping on in my younger years. I knew that I had grown and my palate had matured, but I guess I didn’t realize that California’s take on “warm weather” wine had been maturing too.
Overall, my first spring trip to my cabin was a memorable one, and I have to say, I left Navarro Winery with a bottle of the Muscat Blanc in hand, of course some Pinot Noir (which is another story!) and a very sincere smile on my face.
If you are interested in taking a deeper look into Mendocino County, feel free to contact me and I would love to show you around!