Sara Schneider - From the SUNSET MAGAZINE September 2010 Issue


Wine tasting in Humboldt County

This tucked-away county in Northern California wouldn't be your first guess for a wine tasting adventure, but see why it should be

From redwood groves in the south to funky fishing towns in the north to mountain vineyards in the east, Humboldt can be navigated––and the wines that have quietly come on line here in the last 10 years can be tasted––in one grand 3-day weekend.

DAY 1: Southern Humboldt Redwoods overshadow pocket vineyards where Interstate 101 snakes in from Mendocino County.

Where to drink: 

  • Persimmons Garden Gallery & Wine Tasting An eclectic mix of a nursery, art gallery, wine bar, and cafe. Buy an olive tree, taste stone-fruited Briceland Arneis or earthy White­thorn Pinot, and order crêpes. $; tasting from $4; closed Sun–Tue; 1055 Redway Dr., Redway; 707/923-2748 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              707/923-2748      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
  • Riverbend Cellars Aptly named, these vineyards are almost completely encircled by the Eel River. Amazingly, the likes of Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah are ripening on this chilly flat. $5.50 tasting; 12990 Avenue of the Giants, Myers Flat; 707/943-9907 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              707/943-9907      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
  • Elk Prairie Vineyard This tasting hut high above Humboldt Red­woods State Park yields wild views and concentrated Pinot Noir. By appointment; 707/943-3498 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              707/943-3498      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Where to eat: 

  • The Groves Sister to Riverbend Cellars, the restaurant end of this winery complex serves up some of the best dinners in the county. The duck two ways is addictive, and the wood-fired pizzas are memorable. $$$; closed Tue–Wed; 707/943-9930 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              707/943-9930      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Where to stay: 

  • Miranda Gardens Resort Cozy cottages deep in the redwoods. From $105, including breakfast; 707/943-3011 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              707/943-3011      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

DAY 2: Northern Humboldt Happy cows graze around college and beach towns, where rich agricultural land meets the sea.

Where to drink: 

  • Robert Goodman Wines New, artful college-town tasting room (a restaurant is still to come in this historic machine shop) is home to a tasty Cabernet—from Napa Valley. But there are local Pinot, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay too. Open late; 937 10th St., Arcata; 707/826-9463 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              707/826-9463      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
  • Moonstone Crossing Funky beach town mood; wines full of character, like Old Vine Zin, berried and peppery. $5 tasting; closed Mon–Tue except by appointment; 529 Trinity St., Trinidad; 707/845-5492 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              707/845-5492      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Where to eat: 

  • Restaurant 301 (at Carter House Inns) It’s hard to pass up the twice-baked soufflé with local Cypress Grove chèvre, and the wine list is a full evening’s reading. $$$$; 301 L St., Eureka; 707/444-8062 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              707/444-8062      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
  • Moonstone Grill Join locals around the bar for oysters, or claim the table in the window corner for a compelling ocean view. $$$; closed Mon–Tue; 100 Moonstone Beach Rd., Westhaven; 707/677-1616 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              707/677-1616      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Where to stay:

The Lost Whale Inn The cove right below this Trinidad inn offers up your own colony of sea lions, and a good hot breakfast will make you forget that they barked all night. From $250, including breakfast; 2-night minimum; 800/677-7859 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              800/677-7859      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

DAY 3: Eastern Humboldt Mountainous Willow Creek is the only official AVA in this huge county.

Where to drink:

  • Dogwood Estate Not in Humboldt but in the AVA, this Med-style tasting room in Salyer pours yummy “Mea Culpa”—Zin, Cab, and Merlot. By appointment; 530/629-2191 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              530/629-2191      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. 
  • Sentinel Winery “Garage wine” is no trendy phrase here: Sip the pretty ’06 Pinot on the pocket patio overlooking the pocket Willow Creek vineyard. By appointment; 530/629-2338 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              530/629-2338      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
  • Winnett Vineyards The ridgetop winery barn of the Winnetts (right, page 40) overlooks the Trinity River. Try the citrusy Sauv Blanc, with a smidge of stone fruit. By appointment; 530/629-3478 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              530/629-3478      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.


Humboldt, CA: Elk Prairie Vineyard

Elk Prairie Vineyard hugs Fruitland Ridge in Southern Humboldt county.

Thomas J. Story

Humboldt, CA: Wood-fired Pizza

Delivery will never be the same again after a wood-fired pizza at the Groves in Southern Humboldt county.

Thomas J. Story

Moonstone Grill in Northern Humboldt

Claim the table in the window corner at Moonstone Grill in Northern Humboldt county for this compelling ocean view.

Thomas J. Story

Robert Goodman Wines

The new Robert Goodman Wines tasting room in Northern Humboldt county is home to a tasty Cabernet—from Napa Valley. But there are local Pinot, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay, too.

Thomas J. Story

  • Humboldt county map

    Navigate Humboldt

    Learn your way around this mountain vineyard escape in Northern California.

For more about Humboldt County wineries, go to

Sara Schneider|From the September 2010 Issue

To view the full article, follow this link.


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