The name Mendocino comes from the surname Mendoza in honor of Spanish scientist Lorenzo Suárez de Mendoza from the 15th century, who is exploring the coastline of the area. The Spanish missionaries reached only Sonoma, before in 1821 California became part of Mexico. The first Mendocino vineyards were planted in the Redwood Valley in the 1950s by farmers returning to failure to find wealth and prosperity during the California Golden Rush. The majority of them are Italians.
The oldest continuously functioning wine cellar in the Mendosino district is Parducci, founded in 1931. San Francisco is 160 km south, leaving the county a little off the region's largest wine market, playing an important role in the creation of Sonoma and Napa. By the sixties, Parduchi remained the only leader in the region.
The rise of Mendosino County as a wine region began in the 60s-70s of the last century with the Hippocratic Wave at the Universities of California and the appeal “Back to Nature”. The number of wineries is growing steadily and they are making significant progress in selecting the optimal varieties for the variety of terror that he offers.
Nowadays, Mendosino is leading the “green” revolution in California wine with a quarter of grapes grown organically.
Mendocino County is in northern California, just north of Sonoma and west of Lake District, to the exceptionally beautiful and wild Pacific coast.
On the eastern border of the county are the Maiakama mountains, which separate it from the influence of the great lake in neighboring Lake District. And the coastal mountain chain divides it into two climatic zones.
To the west, closest to the shore, the ocean carries cold currents and rains. Following the Navarro River's way to the Pacific, the mists bring cool and humid air into the valleys, making the conditions for growing varieties like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Riesling ideal. The high places in the Andersen valley and nearby coastal ridges above the mist level are usually planted with warmer varieties such as Zinfandel.
To the east, the climate is warmer and more Mediterranean. In the center of Mendocino AVA summer can also be very hot and dry, providing the necessary water drop for the vine. Precipitation is mostly during the winter months. This makes it possible to make thick, mature red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pty Syra, and Zinfandel.
The soils in the county are mostly alluvial. Near the Russian River and the Navarra River, the soil becomes gravelly, with oval, river stones.
Vineyards and Varieties
The position of the Mendocino vine growers in the northern California wine-producing countries allows them to maintain a variety of varieties without being guided by market trends - unlike Napa and Sonoma. Red varieties predominate, with Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon occupying the largest area, followed by Zinfandel, Merlot, and Syrah. The white dominates Chardonnay, followed by Sauvignon Blanc.
Wine Production and Wine
The Anderson Valley, Mendocino Ridge, Yorkville Highlands and Cole Ranch areas are heavily influenced by the proximity of the ocean. The rest, including the Potter Valley, the Redwood Valley and the Eagle Peak, are warmer, away from the shore and protected from the mountains. The two groups of areas have a dramatically different climate and different varieties. Burgundy grapes and aromatic white thrive in the cold west, while Bordeaux's sun-red varieties devour warmth to the east.
Chianti is made in San Giovanni in Italy, but that has not always been the case. In the past, mixed parcels have been planted with vines of different varieties where one prevails. The fruit gathers together and ferments together too - the vine grower takes the decision for the blend, entirely and “on green”.
This tradition is carried by Italian immigrants to Mendocino, but the leading variety is Zinfandel. There are some very old mixed vines and a group of growers unite to revive and popularize this tradition. Their wines are branded by Coro Mendosino and for this occasion every vintage competes with a special committee.