Kathy and Terry Sullivan
Summary: Enjoy a visit to Navarro Vineyards, a winery and vineyard owned and operated by Ted Bennett, Deborah Cahn and family. Navarro Vineyards in Philo, California is located in Mendocino County. Wines can be purchased online or directly from the tasting room in Philo.
Stroll through a well-maintained garden adjacent to the parking area. Tables and chairs offer a reprieve for travelers. Another garden at the entrance to the winery tasting room, offers a splash of color in contrast to the green of the distant vineyards. Amble through the walkways to the tasting room and large deck on the side of the tasting room. The setting is perfect for enjoying a glass of Navarro wine and a picnic lunch.
Navarro Vineyards in Mendocino County is a family owned and operated winery by Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn
and chldren Aaron and Sarah Cahn Bennett. The first vineyard was planted in 1974 and today there are 100 acres of vineyards. The vineyards consist of Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Muscat Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Some grapes are sourced from Ukiah Valley. Current production is 45,000 cases. The majority of wine is sold directly to the public.
Sarah gave us a tour of the vineyards. Although she has a degree in oenology, Sarah enjoys tending the vineyards. She also takes care of the sheep program. In order to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels to operate machinery in the vineyard, sheep are used throughout the year to control the weeds. Sarah has one of the largest vineyard flocks of sheep in the Anderson Valley. Many of these sheep are the Babydoll breed and are well suited for vineyards. Electric fences are used to keep the sheep within a vineyard area. According to Sarah, 75 Babydoll sheep can eat ground cover and weeds in one acre per day. The sheep like to follow vineyard workers as they move through the vineyard pulling leaves.
After a delightful tour of the vineyards located on numerous hills near the tasting room, we stopped at the winery where they were in the process of bottling. Large oval oak tanks were lined in a row. These were reminiscent of oak tanks we had seen while visiting wineries in Tuscany. We saw one older oak tank that was sealed with wax. Sarah commented that this was a tricky type of tank to work with because of the seal. Winery staff was in the process of bottling wine. With the automated bottling system, cases were quickly filled.
Returning to the winery tasting room it was suggested that we taste Navarro wines on the deck, which was a delightful experience with the sunshine and light breeze.
Chardonnay Anderson Valley 2007 offered an aroma of apple and caramel notes. There were apple, caramel, and citrus nuances on the taste. The finish had hints of citrus. Chardonnay Mendocino 2007 had a floral aroma with citrus notes on the taste. The finish was crisp. Gewürztraminer 2008 was an estate wine. There were floral and orange blossom notes on the aroma while the taste offered grapefruit and orange notes. The finish was crisp and dry. Muscat Blanc 2008 was also an estate wine. The wine offered orange nuances on the aroma and taste while the finish had notes of orange blossoms. Pinot Gris 2008 offered melon and citrus nuances with a crisp finish.
Pinot Noir Mendocino 2007 had a raspberry aroma and taste. Pinot Noir Méthode à l'Ancienne 2007 offered cherry nuances from the aroma through to the finish.
Riesling Late Harvest 2007 was yellow with honey and honeysuckle nuances throughout. The wine had a delicate botrytis touch. Riesling Cluster Select Late Harvest 2007 was a deep gold. There were wild flower and honey nuances. The finish was crisp and sweet.
Tours are available at the Navarro Vineyards twice a day from May through July. Enjoy a visit to the vineyards and to see the Babydoll sheep. Wines are available for purchase when visiting the winery tasting room in Philo, California or online directly from the winery. In addition to their wines, Navarro also produces a white grape juice made from Gewürztraminer grapes and a red grape juice made from Pinot Noir grapes.
5601 Hwy 128
Philo, California 95466
GPS: N39º 05.742’ W123º 28.984’
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