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The Secret Life of Mendocino

It’s not hard to see why some have described Mendocino County as being “a state of mind.” Replete with rugged natural beauty—deep forests, wave-lashed cliffs—and somewhat isolated, it has an untouched feel. When the fishing and lumber industries nosedived in the late 1940s, the area became a vibrant artists’ haven, with Mendocino village at its epicentre. These days, the artistic fervour is subtler but still present. Drive into town, past the Center for Spiritual Living and streets of Victorian homes to the stalwart Mendocino Art Center, where that community still thrives. (Fans of the TV show Murder, She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury may recognize Mendocino’s shores; it was a popular filming location in the ’80s and ’90s.)

Winding your way back to San Francisco, Anderson Valley is not to be missed. Mendocino County wine country feels like a well-kept secret; it’s the Napa Valley of 30 years ago. In the heart of it all, check in for a night at the Madrones, tucked away in a place called Philo. Along with a garden full of citrus trees and Italian-style accommodations, the Madrones is home to four tasting rooms. Seek out bottles from Signal Ridge Vineyard, best known for its bubbles and high-altitude wines.

The Madrones is also a 10-minute drive from the Bewildered Pig, which was a French restaurant before chef/owner Janelle Weaver turned it into a rustic-refined gem with plates built around foraged fare. The “purveyor of gastronomic pleasantries,” as she puts it, serves dishes like rabbit pot pie, radishes with caraway butter, and an explosive “celebration of carrots” that includes them cooked, pickled, raw, and topped with chive leather (like fruit leather, but using herbs). The cozy 38-seat room fills quickly and by night’s end is boisterous with local winemakers.

Read the full article at NuvoMagazine.com.