By Michelle Sieling
I love wine so much that I slept in a wine barrel, and you can do it, too. No joke–it’s a cottage for two that was constructed out of a wine barrel from the 1950s and perched high on a ridge above the Navarro River in the town of Albion in Mendocino County.
How did I become so lucky? Well, it was a rare three day weekend, no work to catch up on or articles to write–a perfect storm. My companion and I packed food for at least one night’s meal, some clothes, and my dog Lucy into the car, and off we go up 101 to Mendocino.
Once we made it out of the tummy churning part of 128, and onto the flat land, we popped into Navarro Winery. In the tasting room, hip young professionals mingled with families from Humboldt County. A sweeping view of the valley was right outside the patio door. A staff member slipped Lucy a treat even though she’d already been vacuuming up the cracker crumbs from the floor. We made our way through the tasting, starting with something a little different, a dry Muscat. Overall there wasn’t a loser in the bunch. What a treat! Even the kids got to choose from two types of grape juice—fancy!
We stopped at Husch Vineyards just down the road. Two years ago in the fall we had the tasting room to ourselves, but this time it was busy, even with just five couples crowded into the small cottage-like room. We ran through the tasting flight of reds and bolted. I really just couldn’t wait to get out of the car and into the wine barrel.
The wine barrel was redunkulous! Maybe I’m spoiling it for later visits, but the views are just unfair. Windows line the back wall of the cottage, overlooking the mouth of the Navarro River. You could even see the ocean from the bed. If only we were facing due west we could watch the sunset from the barrel, but alas, we only had to walk out to the meadow in back and look right. Not bad.
Upstairs the wood stove was already set with all the makings for a fire. They made it too easy—all I needed to do was light it. There’s a full kitchen, and a barbeque which we make use of on the first night. It even had internet, DIRECTV and a stereo system should we have wanted it, but we barely turned on the TV as we spent most of the time exploring outside. We even had the option to indulge in a private hot tub underneath the redwoods.
The wine barrel feels far away from the rest of the weekenders, but is actually less than 20 minutes from the town of Mendocino, making it an ideal jumping off point to explore the Mendocino coast, as well as wineries.
Our weekend was spent exploring the beaches, as well as a visit to Mendocino to dine a couple of times. In particular, we lunched on a leek and goat cheese tart and duck confit 2-ways at Moosse’s Café. Bonus was that it was warm enough so that we could have the dog sit with us on the back porch of the restaurant. Moosse’s does offer a menu for dogs, but even I wouldn’t indulge her to that extent. A few table scraps instead.
On our last day, to ease our transition back to the big bad city, we stopped at Goldeneye Winery. I figured if it’s good enough to be served to our President, it’s good enough for me. Plus, the tasting is quite civilized—no standing at a bar, elbowing your fellow patrons for position. You can seat yourself on comfy couches and armchairs, make friends at a long table indoors, or picnic outside on the patio while you enjoy your wine, which they accompany with dried fruit and nuts to nibble.
Attracted by the Petit Verdot sign, we stretched out our trip with one last stop at Yorkville Cellars. They grow all eight of the main Bordeaux grapes and produce each as a varietal wine at this organic vineyard. It was a fun way to cap off our weekend with something a little different.
For Wine Barrel reservations call 1-800-3590-4649 or visit www.mendocinovacationhomes.com.