Highway 128 from Mendocino to Cloverdale could well qualify as one of the most scenic drives in California. We started at Mendocino on Highway One enjoying views of Pacific high surf at Point Arena, then picturesque and enticing coves where creeks reach the sea. The press of time kept us from climbing the 115 feet to the top of Point Arena lighthouse. Where the Navarro River reaches the sea in an estuary we turned to Highway 128. Here we moved inland following the River through a lush forest rich in huge trees, moss, fern and much more.
Beckoning, as we traveled this two lane highway at a leisurely 40 miles an hour, was a series of California State Parks: Van Damne, Navarro River Redwood, Hendy Woods and Maillard Redwoods State Preserve. Further inland vineyards started to appear strategically placed for the desired exposure best suited to the varietal.
We were now in Anderson Valley which is becoming ever more famous as one of the State's outstanding appellations. With the vineyards a whole series of wineries, many with Tasting Rooms and signs inviting visitors. The vineyards in Anderson Valley include plantings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer as well as Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Muscat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Merlot. Some of California's best sparkling wines, methode champenoise, are produced here as well. There are 29 wineries in the Anderson valley and thirteen of these welcome visitors for tours and tastings. Winemaking is still a family business in Mendocino County and in fact the county has the most family owned wineries in California.
Here your drive is through a pastoral Countryside with meadows and pastures, some with grazing sheep, intermingled with forest and vineyard. Also small, well kept communities with names like Navarro, Philo and Booneville. On the 66 miles from the turnoff from Highway One to Cloverdale you pass through two appellations, the second being Yorkville. As you reach this second appellation the vineyards become ever larger and more extensive.
AT Cloverdale you meet Highway 101 which can take you north to more Mendocino adventures or south to San Francisco and the Bay Area.
For more information about Anderson Valley call 707 895-wine or on the web at www.avwines,com. For information on dining and lodgings check the web at www,.mcla.info.
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