Imagine ocean bluffs and a very blue sea. Throw in wineries and great restaurants. It’s like you are transported to a New England village – but on the opposite end of the coast. This was my first visit to Mendocino and the people, wine, food and hospitality have made sure it will not be my last.
We started our girl’s trip with a stay at the Brewery Gulch Inn.com. It was an experience of history and hospitality. I talked a little about Guy, Sarah and Ella Pacurar, the proprietors of the inn and how Guy came to Mendocino and was the second owner of the property and how they expanded into wine here.
The Brewery Gulch Inn was crafted using original Redwoods including 15,000 board feet of original “sinker” logs that were embedded in the silt from the Great Earthquake of 1906. The Brewery Gulch Inn borders 48,000 acres of unoccupied redwoods and meadows of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest.
You walk into the main room of the Brewery Gulch Inn and immediately feel at home. Think overstuffed furniture, a library of books, a massive fireplace and little amenities that help guests feel welcome like DVDs and games, coffee, tea, pastries and fruit.
The four of us stayed in the Meadowview suite (we were hosted by the Brewery Gulch Inn) and were welcomed with a bottle of sparkling wine. It was a two bedroom suite that was perfect to curl up by the fire and one of my favorite memories was watching the Big Chill with a bottle of wine one night.
The food …. Wow. Cuisine features organic and locally-sourced products. Breakfast and a light dinner buffet is included with every stay. And, breakfast is spectacular. Fresh pastries, homemade Belgian hot chocolate and a mix of cooked to order sweet and savory choices make it a meal to not be missed. We planned to originally go out for dinner, but the light supper provided with the wine hour was delicious and makes you want to stay. You see why this place has received numerous awards including Conde Nash Reader’s Choice and Travel & Leisure, among others.
We then were hosted at the Little River Inn.
The original building was built in 1853 by Silas Coombs in a Victorian style overlooking gorgeous and spectacular ocean views. In 1939, Coombs granddaughter, Cora, and her husband, Ole Hervilla, opened the property as an inn, which was then a two-story motel that expanded over the years. Five generations later, the Coombs family still runs the property.
The inn has a nine-hole golf course, two tennis courts, a day spa and restaurant run by Executive Chef Marc Dym. The dinner and breakfast we ate were top notch and the wine program features many Anderson Valley wineries.
The weekend that we visited happened to be a crab extravaganza timed with Crab Fest Mendocino.
The Skunk Train: Crab and Cremant
We then rode the historic Skunk Train through the Pudding Creek Estuary that has been rolling since 1885. It was about a two hour ride where we watched the old-growth Redwood groves while drinking a glass (or two) of Sharffenberger Crémant Sparkling Wine and enjoyed a bread bowl of clam chowder.
Crab Cake Cook-Off & Wine Tasting Competition
It was time for the Crab Cake Cook-Off & Wine Tasting, an all you can eat crab cake and Anderson Valley wine festival. Local chefs prepared a variety of crab cakes and there was a vote for the winners at the end. This event gets my favorite vote for the best headgear ever. The best thing was that the it raised money for Mendocino Coast Clinics, a 501(c)3 non-profit, focused on providing patient healthcare to Mendocino residents.
If you are looking for a getaway with great food, wine, places to stay and people with a coastal town feeling, Mendocino is one of California’s best kept secrets.