Summary: Handley Cellars grows grapes organically in the vineyards at the winery. They also source grapes from other growers. The tasting room offers an array of tribal folk art objects for visitors to enjoy. View the experimental vineyard just outside of the Handley Cellars tasting room. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the garden courtyard.
Handley Cellars located in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley has vineyards that are 30 years old. Milla Handley is the owner and winemaker. Milla’s family had been involved in the beer industry. She attended UC Davis and realized that there wasn’t a place in the beer industry for a female brewmaster at that time. Milla saw that possibilities existed in the wine industry for women. Her interest in horses, art and raising a family contributed to her decision to start a business, make wine and move to a remote location like Philo. Today Milla is the founder, proprietor and winemaker of Handley Cellars. Kristen Barnhisel is the co-winemaker and Randy Schock is the cellar master.
This organically farmed vineyard at the winery is at the coldest end of Anderson Valley and is the closest Anderson Valley vineyard to the Pacific Ocean. During spring, an overhead sprinkler system is used to protect the vineyard from early morning frosts. Thirty acres of onsite grapes are certified organic by CCOF. These grapes include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. Grapes for the winery are from onsite vineyards, as well as other vineyards that are owned and leased. Zinfandel and Syrah grapes come from warmer areas of Mendocino County. Handley Cellars produces 18,000 cases of wine.
Solar energy from a number of solar panels provides 70 to 75 percent of the electrical needs of the winery. In order to protect the wines from cork taint, Handley Cellars has instituted a policy of no chlorine and as a result the winery has been chlorine free for six years.
The crush pad area and stainless steel tanks are located outside under a wood- covered roof. Additional stainless steel and wooden tanks are housed inside. Barrels stacked three high age wines. We tasted several Pinot Noirs from different vineyards. All of the Pinot Noirs were in French oak barrels. They had aromas of red berry fruit and a light style fruity taste with hints of earthiness. Handley Cellars expects to bottle the Pinot Noir in August 2010.
The entrance to the tasting room is landscaped with colorful plants. Inside the tasting room, many tribal art objects can be viewed as one tastes the wines. Overhead of the main door is a ceremonial canoe. In the middle of the room is a set of table and chairs. The chairs are carvings reminiscent of elephants. There are only four known sets like this in the world. Milla’s parents collected these tribal art artifacts. Be sure to note the design on the Handley Cellars wine bottle. This design was based on ancient tribal textiles of the African Kuba tribes. Outside the tasting room there is a courtyard with tables and chairs. The courtyard overlooks the experimental vineyard.
The Chardonnay 2007 aroma and taste offered nuances of apples and pears. The crisp finish had hints of citrus. Chardonnay Estate Vineyard 2007 had apple and caramel notes. The crisp finish had apple nuances. Pinot Gris 2008 had tropical notes on the nose and taste. There were accompanying orange nuances on the taste. The wine finished crisp and fruity.
Pinot Rosé Anderson Valley 2009 was an orange-red color. There were hints of red berries notably strawberries on the nose and taste. However, the taste also had nuances of red raspberries. The finish was fruity. This wine had a residual sugar of 0.37.
The Pinot Noir 2006 Holmes Ranch Anderson Valley offered an aroma of light red berries. The taste had strawberry and raspberry nuances. The crisp, fruity finish offered mild tannins. Redwood Valley Zinfandel 2007 had red cherries on the aroma and taste. The wine finished crisp with tannins and fruit. Ranch House Red 2007 was a blend of Syrah and Zinfandel. This red/purple wine was very fruity with red fruit notes on the nose. The wine finished with tannins and fruit.
In addition to still wines, the winery also produces sparkling wines. These wines are produced every two or three years.
Enjoy your visit to Handley Cellars. View the experimental vineyard and be sure to enjoy the tribal art objects in the tasting room.
3151 Highway 128
Philo, California 95466
GPS: N39º 07.198’ W123º 30.887’
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