Wine Region Profile: Anderson Valley AVA, Mendocino County

Did you know the Anderson Valley wine region is the coolest in California? This is based on the average temperature for quality grape growing, though the wines are pretty “cool” too. The Anderson American Viticultural Area (AVA) has existed since 1983, and produces not just Pinot Noir and sparkling wines of great expression (think Chardonnay), but other cool-loving varietals as well, including Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris typical to Alsace in France.

110 miles northwest of San Francisco, this is hill country, slightly removed from the Pacific Ocean. Like Santa Barbara County, its wine growing areas are transverse, cutting laterally through the coastal mountains to directly meet the cold ocean. This results in huge differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures—known as diurnal variation—that is extremely important for the grape vines. Daily high and low temperatures can diverge up to an astounding 40 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the AVA was established, Pinot Noir accounted for only 47 acres, mostly in one vineyard. All that changed thanks to science in the late 1980s. “French scientists unleashed a new wave of Pinot Noir clones that ripen reliably in cool climates, especially those with hot days and cold nights – just like Anderson Valley,” says the Anderson Valley Winegrower Association. By 2006, the first comprehensive tasting of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir was held, with 43 wines from 30 producers.

At this time in the early 1980s, a famed French Champagne producer named Roederer located his California sparkling wine operation in the Anderson Valley—quite a testament to its potential, now realized.  Jean-Claude Roederer, who has handed the winery over to his son Frédéric Rouzaud, wanted estate-owned vineyards to be able to create the highest quality wine. This allowed controlling all aspects of viticulture and winemaking. He explored all over California for a few yeas seeking the place with ideal growing conditions for cool-climate grapes that produce great sparkling wine. Roederer’s Andreson vineyards were planted in 1984, the winery was built in 1986, and the first Roederer Estate MV Brut cuvée was released in 1988.

One example of the Valley’s superb red wine available online is our own 2019 Barn Raiser Anderson Valley Pinot Noir at the equally superb price of $19.99 a bottle. This represents our third private label bottling, which offers special value for Bottle Barn customers. Destined for a $50 per bottle Anderson appellation wine,  current market conditions and great connections allowed us to acquire this beauty at less than half the usual wholesale price, and we have passed on the savings. The product of top winemaking, this Pinot spent 16 months in barrel ageing, 50% of which is new French Oak. The wine, made from top vineyard grapes, is unfined and unfiltered.

To taste and share Roederer’s vinous creation, get the big size! The Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley 1.5 L is made from 60% Chardonnay and the rest Pinot Noir, this subtly complex sparkler features “notes of lemon and pear paired with toasty brioche, fresh ginger and hazelnut details” according to Wine Spectator.

Both these incredible wines are available for easy shipping across the USA from Bottle Barn’s headquarters in Sonoma County.


Written By: Charlie Leary

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