Regions and Appellations USA California North Coast Mendocino County

Mendocino County Wine

Mendocino County represents the northern limits of California's quality wine-growing regions and, even within the county's limits, there is a clear vineyard bias towards its southern half, where the majority of its 6900 hectares (17,000 acres) of vines are located. As such, Mendocino County is one of California's largest wine-growing areas, although far from the most densely planted, and is recognized for the diversity and quality of its wines.

The county is home to more than 10 AVAs, among them the famous Anderson Valley and the Mendocino AVA, which is something of a catch-all title as it incorporates more than five other location-specific AVAs. The climatic variation between the inland and coastal AVAs here is largely to thank for the broad range of wine styles produced in Mendocino County.

Anderson Valley AVA, Mendocino County
? Wikimedia/Jay Bergesen

The region is divided into two distinct climatic zones by the Mendocino Range, one of several mountain ranges which make up the Pacific Coast Ranges. Unusually for California, the vineyards lean towards the inland areas rather than the coast – inland it is significantly warmer and drier and vines are sheltered from the cooling effects of the Pacific Ocean. This area is classified as Region III on the Amerine and Winkler climate classification scale, in contrast to the Region I classification of Anderson Valley. Indeed, it was the cool, moist climes of the Anderson Valley that caught the attention of Louis Roederer and led the Champagne giant to establish the Roederer Estate vineyards in this AVA.

Mendocino County's cooler areas produce outstanding Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and sparkling wines. Alsatian white grape varieties – Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris – have also found a home here, while the warmer parts of the region are suitable for growing more robust reds, including the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Zinfandel.

Viticulture in Mendocino County dates back to the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, although there was a significant hiatus in wine production here (as everywhere in the US) during Prohibition in the early-1900s. Today, Mendocino County is particularly known for its organic and biodynamic wines, with approximately 25 percent of the county's vineyards certified as organic – more than any other wine region in California.

As is happening all over the world, new wine-growing terroirs are being discovered in this area each year, pushing California's viticultural regions further north.

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Most Popular Mendocino County Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Grape
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Roederer Estate L'Ermitage Brut, Anderson Valley, USA Champagne Blend 2,123rd 93 $53
Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, Mendocino County, USA Pinot Noir 2,909th 90 $50
1000 Stories Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel, Mendocino County, USA Zinfandel 3,178th 88 $17
Edict Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 5,447th 89 $52
Cakebread Cellars Two Creeks Vineyards Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 6,422nd 90 $53
Halcon Vineyards 'Alturas' Syrah, Yorkville Highlands, USA Syrah 7,010th 92 $33
Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley, USA Champagne Blend 8,425th 90 $27
Maggy Hawk Jolie Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 10,377th 90 $66
Littorai Les Larmes Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 10,546th 90 $68
Parducci 'True Grit' Reserve Petite Sirah, Mendocino, USA Petite Sirah (Durif) 11,358th 90 $18
Apriori Wentzel Vineyard Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 11,478th $60
Williams Selyem Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir, Yorkville Highlands, USA Pinot Noir 11,723rd 91 $106
Anthill Farms Comptche Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mendocino County, USA Pinot Noir 12,229th 91 $50
Bravium Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, California, USA Pinot Noir 13,028th 89 $31
Black Kite Cellars 'Kite Rest' Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 14,054th 91 $50
Elizabeth Spencer Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino, USA Sauvignon Blanc 14,476th 88 $18
Williams Selyem Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 14,654th 92 $110
Miura Vineyards Williams Ranch Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 15,664th 88 $74
Littorai Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 16,037th 92 $100
Navarro Vineyards Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 16,139th 89 $28
Copain Wines Tous Ensemble Chardonnay, Mendocino County, USA Chardonnay 16,257th 89 $25
Edmeades Zinfandel, Mendocino County, USA Zinfandel 16,447th 88 $17
Bonterra Vineyards Merlot, Mendocino County, USA Merlot 16,930th 88 $14
Littorai One Acre Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 17,764th 92 $119
Long Meadow Ranch Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, USA Pinot Noir 17,881st 89 $40
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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