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June 21, 2015 was all of the above. We didn’t know much about “A Taste of Redwood Valley” but we took a chance and drove there, and that turned out to be a great idea. Today was a community-wide tasting that included seven vineyards and one craft distillery.

Participants included Barra of Mendocino (Girasole Vineyards), Brown Family Wines, Frey Vineyards, Giuseppe Wines (Norse Vineyards), Graziano Faimily of Wines, Silversmith Vineyards, Testa Vineyards and Germain-Robin/ACWD Craft Distillers.

These wineries are not open every weekend for tasting, though some are available for tastings by appointment. The Taste of Redwood Valley makes it possible to visit as many of these wineries as you wish–or that you have the stamina to visit. Tickets were $35 per person and included a wine glass, all tastings, and complimentary food at each stop. Food included pasta salads, hot pasta, rice salad, tossed green salad, bread. We started at Barra, where a very welcoming hostess got us started, and a long list of wines were available for tasting in a large circular tasting room. As usual, I tasted whites while Jonathan tasted reds. We bought Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir.

Barra Winery tasting room.

Barra Winery tasting room.

http://www.barraofmendocino.com/

Our next stop was Testa’s outdoor tasting room, up a driveway and beside their guest house. Everyone was just as friendly here as at Barra, and we ended up buying three bottles.

https://testaranch.com

From there we went to Brown Family Wines, where the owner told us about his move from Manchester, England to Redwood City as he searched for a different lifestyle. Between shopping for property, moving his family including three daughters and navigating the permitting process for improvements to the property, it is quite a story. We ended up with a case of wine from the Brown family.http://www.californiawineryadvisor.com/wineries/view/Brown_Family_Wines

Wine country outside Redwood Valley, CA

Wine country outside Redwood Valley, CA

Rather than pushing to hit all of the vineyards (!), our final stop for the day was at Germain-Robin, to taste distilled spirits. There were flavored brandies (orange, vanilla, cherry–I liked the orange best). There were liqueurs, including one flavored with rose petals. “They made this for our wedding,” said the woman next to me. She and her husband explained that for their rose-themed wedding they wanted something special and they were able to have an early and somewhat experimental batch of the rose liqueur. (“We were R&D!” they said.) It did taste like rose petals, stronger than rose water, and definitely an acquired taste, but it clearly has its fans. There was gin scented with ginger, with lime, or London Dry gin. There were California whiskies (who knew?), and more products than I could taste, even spitting most of it out.

http://www.craftdistillers.com/

We headed back to our house in Little River around 3:30 pm, got to Ft. Bragg in under an hour, and home after a stop at the store. It was a wonderful day. This was our second wine tasting day. Our first was last Sunday when we visited the Alexander Valley. That area will take many more visits, however. Redwood City holds a fall event, so you don’t need to wait until next year to visit.

Arch at entrance to Willets, CA, "Gateway to the Redwoods"

Arch at entrance to Willets, CA, “Gateway to the Redwoods” on the way from Redwood Valley to Mendocino.