There is a stretch of American coastline that has long inspired artists and writers with its dangerous beauty on one side and rippling meadows and soaring forests on the other. It is also home to some of California's best wines -- including a few surprises.
Scenic Winery Tour on Highway 128
Travelers familiar with the well-worn path and tourist caravan of Highway 29 between Napa and Calistoga will surely welcome the scenic, lazy winding of Highway 128 through Anderson Valley. You'll find that several of the area's best small-production wineries are along the way.
The octagonal tasting room at Greenwood Ridge was designed by winery owner Allan Green's father, who was an associate of Frank Lloyd Wright. A single redwood tree that fell on the winery property during a storm provided all of the wood used to build the tasting room, and recently added solar panels generate more than enough power to operate it. It's a great example of the fusing of artistic endeavors and reverence for natural beauty that is so prevalent in the area.
First Champagne, Now Cognac
If Mendocino's Anderson Valley is California's answer to Burgundy and Champagne, then a drive up the mountainous Low Gap Road to Germain-Robin is about as close as you'll get to a visit to Cognac on this side of the Atlantic. There, co-founder Ansley Coale makes brandies that are routinely named best in the world -- beating the best from Cognac, France -- by reviewers writing for such publications as Robb Report, Wine Spectator, The New York Times and many more.