Anderson Valley is an elixir for the soul. In this maritime-influenced land of cool-climate Alsatian whites and pinot noir, weathered fence posts struggle to prop up dew-laden heritage roses, ancient water towers stand sentinel over vine rows stitched into steep hillsides, and barn roofs glow green with decades of moss. Time hangs like fog.
Yet there's a sunny garden and a shiny new collection of tasting rooms awaiting you at The Madrones (themadrones.com) in Philo. Bink, Drew, Knez and Signal Ridge all pour Thursday through Sunday here -- Signal Ridge and Bink are open daily -- alongside a quaint garden shop called Sun & Cricket, crammed with eclectic books, antiques, garden tools, gourmet foods and a cheese counter. A new restaurant, Stone and Embers, offers lunch and dinner Friday through Tuesday. Stay put for a night in their cozy accommodations, and you'll never want to leave.
At Bink, Monika Fuchs will delight you with her charming German accent and a sense of humor as dry as their sauvignon blanc. Fantastic prints of the posters that inspired Hermes scarves make the walls come alive with color. Jason Drew, of Drew Family Cellars, who also makes Balo wines, specializes in albarino, syrah and pinot noir from the coastal vineyards of Mendocino, including Mendocino Ridge and Anderson Valley. His 2011 Valenti Vineyard Syrah was among the Top 100 wines for 2013 chosen by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Knez offers elegant, age worthy estate chardonnay and pinot noir from their two sustainable vineyards, Cerise and Demuth, among the most sought after in the Anderson Valley. Outside the charming Knez tasting room are tables and chairs where you can enjoy a glass of wine accompanied by Penny Royal Farmstead cheeses, made from the goats and sheep that tend to the weeds at Navarro's newest vineyards at the west end of Boonville.
The newest Madrones tasting room, Signal Ridge, is named for the estate vineyard that sits at 2,760 feet, with a gorgeous view of the ocean. They produce zinfandel, syrah, chardonnay and pinot noir; they make a sparkling from the latter two and a rosé from the former. The tasting room looks out on a rose-filled garden, where you can wander, listening to the music of exotic doves.
Just across the street is Balo Winery, with two bocce courts and a deluxe pizza oven. Their light-as-air pinot rosé is spectacular. You'll often find the affable and engaging Travis behind the bar. He has an English bulldog that does not like having his picture taken. Be warned: He tried to bite my camera.
The details: 9000 Highway 128, Philo; themadrones.com. $5 tasting fee. The "Land & Sea" winter package includes two nights at The Madrones, two nights at Brewery Gulch Inn on the Mendocino coast, plus wine tastings, chef demos, dinners, breakfasts and more, starting at $1,425 per couple. Winter Workshops include mushroom foraging and wood-fired cooking with chef Patrick Meany, formerly of Bouchon and Gary Danko.
The sips: 2005 Bink Hawk's Butte Vineyard Syrah, 2012 Balo Pinot Rosé, 2011 Drew Winery Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2011 Knez Demuth Vineyard Chardonnay, Signal Ridge Bubbles Brut Sparkling.
Nearby: Toulouse Vineyards and Handley Cellars.
-- Laura Ness