Maggy Hawk Vineyard

WINE 101

Authentic Anderson Valley

FEBRUARY 09, 2022

Anderson Valley is quickly appearing on the radar of wine lovers and critics alike. No wonder. This California gem is the state’s best-kept secret when it comes to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The wines can be beautifully balanced between vibrant fruit and fresh acidity, with a lovely fragrant note to them. You can also find Alsatian varietal wines and beautifully finessed sparkling wines here. If you’ve never tried an Anderson Valley wine before, the price-to-quality ratio of these wines will grab your attention.  

Tucked between the Mendocino coast and the Redwoods, the remote Anderson Valley is a 15-mile long, mile-wide swathe of land, home to 30 wineries and 91 vineyards. The Valley straddles the Navarro River from Boonville in the south to Navarro in the north, where the river empties into the Pacific Ocean. Coastal Redwoods, Douglas Fir, and other wild flora—such as the mint-scented Pennyroyal flower—influence the aromatics of the wines.

Rolling vineyards, quaint orchards and grazing sheep offer idyllic views at every turn. Visitors are treated to a pastoral setting that seems almost lost in time, or as the Anderson Valley Growers Association calls the region, “Quietly Inspirational.” One fascinating remnant of the Valley’s isolation is the existence of Bootling – a folk language created by farmers in the late 1800s and spoken by fewer than 100 people today.   


Wine grapes were first planted here by Italian immigrants, who settled in the Valley in the late 1800s. The Valley’s isolation and cool climate, however, made it more advantageous to raise sheep and cultivate orchards. The onset of Prohibition in the 1920s further stymied winegrowing for several decades.

Starting in the 1960s, two fortuitous events revived winegrowing in the Valley and set it on a course to become an official wine region. In 1964, a cardiologist from Pasadena, Dr. Donald Edmeades, planted vines near the town of Philo, making him the Valley’s first modern-day grower. The Edmeades Winery—whose wines you can buy on YourWineStore—launched in 1972 and quickly began to win gold medals and high scores for its wines, especially its mountain Zinfandels.

In the 1970s, new Pinot Noir clones arrived from France, which enabled winegrowers to cultivate this finicky grape in Anderson Valley’s cooler climate. Top-notch winemakers and winemaking facilities followed suit, and in 1983, the Valley became an official American Viticulture Area. Siduri, which is known for its highly acclaimed Pinot Noir wines, made its first Pinot Noir in 1994 from Anderson Valley fruit – a 2017 version of which you can buy today on YourWineStore.

"There is a wildness about Anderson Valley. It’s still very untouched, rural, with a small-town feel. The future of Anderson Valley is limitless in my mind."

Maggy Hawk winemaker, Sarah Wuethrich

Sarah Wuethrich, Maggy Hawk winemaker

Small, but diverse

Production here is small, with huge potential for further growth. Anderson Valley comprises more than 200,000 acres, but only 2,502 of them are planted to vine. Of those plantings, Pinot Noir dominates, making up 69% of production, with Chardonnay coming in next at 22%, followed by smaller quantities of Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Gris and Riesling.

Distinct differences separate the northern and southern sections of the Valley. The northern area is the coolest wine-growing region in California and lies only 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Known as the “Deep End,” this section is narrow and low-lying, which allows fog to roll in and settle over the vineyards. Morning fog yields to brilliant daytime sunshine, with temperatures shifting as much as 40 degrees during the day, allowing the grapes to hang longer on the vines and to develop complex flavors without losing acidity. Maggy Hawk’s estate vineyard lies in the Deep End – the perfect environment for growing cool-climate varieties like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Copain’s Pinot Noir, sourced from the Maggy Hawk vineyard, is also one you won’t want to miss.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel thrive in the Valley’s warmer, southern half, which sits 20 miles from the ocean. Sections of the Valley rise to elevations of up to 2,500 feet, where winds cool the grapes and help to preserve acidity. Both Maggy Hawk and Copain source grapes from the Skycrest Vineyard, where Chardonnay vines cling to steep hills, and from the Edmeades Vineyard, which is a warmer, earlier ripening site for Pinot Noir. An indication of how much warmer the Valley's southern half is than its northern part? Budbreak in the Skycrest Vineyard usually occurs two weeks later than in the Maggy Hawk Vineyard, even though they are less than 15 miles apart!

Where & When to Visit

Anderson Valley is a stunning region to visit all year round, but there are two major events you might want to plan your visit around:

And don’t miss Maggy Hawk’s beautiful, brand new tasting room, where you can taste winemaker Sarah Wuethrich’s Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and rare White Pinot Noir (a white wine made from red Pinot Noir grapes). Reserve your tasting at Maggy Hawk.

At YourWineStore, we carry Anderson Valley wines from Maggy Hawk, Copain, Edmeades, Kendall-Jackson, La Crema and Siduri. As they say in Bootling, “Bahl Hornin’” or “Cheers”!