Disclosure: I was invited out to visit the brand new tasting room of Lula Cellars in Mendocino County. This is the story of my experience. All opinions are my own, and I have found a new love in Anderson Valley of Mendocino County.
Life is an adventure. The best part is that we are always choosing the adventures that we take, of course, sometimes life intervenes. When I moved to California, I knew it was our goal to move up to Northern California to be closer to family, but what transcended was all these magical places that I just never knew existed before arriving here.
Through adventure, through discovery I’ve began to unwrap these fun places, and this was the EXACT feeling of what happened upon our visit to Lula Cellars in Mendocino County. Located in the small town of Philo, CA, lies the wine appellation of Anderson Valley. A valley that is gaining recognition for their lovely Pinot Noirs along with their loves of Riesling and Gewurztraminer’s in the area. A valley that is often compared to Napa Valley during the 70s. Because of the cooler (coolest in CA) climates coming in from the coast, this valley is the right place to grow these amazing wines, but what’s even more telling are the winemakers behind the wine. They are truly there because they want to be, and their passion shines through in their wine, in their tasting rooms, and their way of life.
This was exactly the case when I arrived on the property of Lula Cellars. And once I heard Jeff Hansen’s story of how Lula Cellars came to be, it was a reminder, yet again, that life is an adventure, and if we’re truly meant to do something, life will truly intervene. Jeff brings over 30 years of wine-making experience to Lula Cellars, and the name came from his own maternal grandmother who was truly an inspiration to him and many others.
When we first arrived on property, Jeff (winemaker), and Dan, the tasting room manager of Lula Cellars, poured us a glass of wine, and let us walk around the property. We instantly were drawn to the pond and then we sat down at one of the tables outside the tasting room to enjoy our glasses of wine:
Lula Cellars was established in 2010 which started off in a Tasting Room off the main stretch of Philo, CA. Soon, Jeff, remembered that people truly loved the winery experience when it came to tasting wine, and when his dream property became available, life intervened. The new tasting room sits upon 22 acres with newly planted grape vines of Pinot Noir with one acre fully dedicated to Gewurztraminer. He also grows other grape vines along the Mountain of Comptche in his Costa and Peterson Vineyards along with grapes from the Mariah Vineyards that is dedicated solely to Zinfandel on behalf of Dan & Vicki Dooling.
The newly renovated tasting room just opened up this past October and is open daily from 10am to 6pm. The last winery on the stretch of wineries along Highway 128 headed towards the coast of Mendocino. But truly, what I’ve found during my stay is that Anderson Valley has a whole wealth of wineries to be tapped into (22, in all!) And, just being 35 minutes from the Northern California Coast, an ideal place for a weekend getaway, or a much needed long vacation.
Just imagine yourself sitting back with a glass of wine with some of your closest friends, or love on a gorgeous day with open blue skies. And this may just be your view.
Be sure to let Dan, the tasting room manager take care of you, and be entertained by Honey, the new Winery Dog of Lula Cellars. Their dog was named by fans of Lula Cellars when they first acquired her. The winery is also very animal friendly themselves.
Although the views are just part of it, it’s truly the charm of the wines that will draw you in. As Jeff told me it was his goal to create really good wines, but to create wines that when people walked in, they’d love all of them. And let me tell you, that can often times be hard in a single winery, but, I can honestly say, every wine I tried at Lula Cellars, I thoroughly enjoyed which says a lot about the winemaker.
2012 Pinot Gris:
This is a great starter wine, and perfect for sipping on during the spring or summer.
2013 Mendocino Rosato:
The 2013 vintage marks the fourth release of Rosato from Lula Cellars.
The 2013 Rosato (Rosé of Pinot Noir) was sourced from a vineyard located in the coastal town of Comptche, at the 2,000 foot elevation. Our dry Rosato was made from the juice of five different clones of Pinot Noir (Pommard, Dijon #115, #777, #667 and Swan) that had several hours of skin contact. The fermentation temperature was kept in the low 60’s, which allowed the finished wine to retain the wonderful fruit flavors of this noble grape.
Although I am not a huge fan of Rose, this Rosato wasn’t overpowering, and had a nice flavor to it. A great summer wine.
2013 Mendocino Dry Gewurtztraminer:
The 2013 vintage marks the fourth release of Dry Gewürztraminer from Lula Cellars.
The vineyards that the 2013 Dry Gewürztraminer came from are located in the hills west of the town of Ukiah.
The finished wine is dry with hints of tangerine. It has exotic spices with flora notes on the nose, and is balanced with crisp acidity and a long finish.
This year I have tried a variety of Gewurtztraminer’s, and not every varietal is always as clean, and smooth as the one at Lula Cellars. Truly a nice flavor profile, and one that pairs well with the famed Northern California Dungeness Crab.
2010 Mendocino Coast Pinot Noir:
The 2010 vintage marks the third release of our Mendocino Coast Pinot Noir. This world-class wine comes from a fifteen-year-old vineyard located in the mountain town of Comptche, which in the coastal mountains south/east of the village of Mendocino.
The wine is a three clone blend of 60% Pommard, 35% Dijon #115 and 5% Dijon #777, aged for eighteen months in 40% new French oak barrels.
2012 Mendocino Zinfandel:
Our 2012 Zinfandel is crafted from grapes grown at Mariah Vineyards on Mendocino Ridge. The vineyard was planted in 1980, and is situated at the 2,600 foot elevation. The vines are dry farmed, meaning that the only water they receive comes from winter rainfall, which is the secret to growing world-class Zinfandel grapes. Mariah Vineyards proprietors Dan and Vicki Dooling have a passion for growing grapes that is matched by a select few in our industry.
Zinfandel’s continue to surprise me, but this one had a nice full body, fruit forward flavor profile, exactly the way a Zinfandel should be. A huge reason why Zinfandel’s are continuing to grow on me through my learning process of wines.
2012 Costa Vineyard Pinot Noir:
The 2012 vintage marks the first release of Costa Vineyards Pinot Noir as a single vineyard source. The five acre vineyard this wine comes from is a hidden jewel located in the mountain town of Comptche, which is eight miles east of the Coastal Village of Mendocino, at 700 feet above sea level. The vineyard has two different clones of Pinot Noir, Pommard and Dijon #115.
The Comptche Vineyards are where Lula Cellars was born, and the wine was made, and it will continue. And with Pinot is truly where Jeff excels.
2012 Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noir: (Only available to Wine Club Members!)
The 2012 vintage marks the first release of our Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noir as a vineyard designate. The Peterson vineyard is located in the mountain town of Comptche, which is eight miles east of the Coastal Village of Mendocino, at 700 feet above sea level. The vineyards were planted in 1998, using four different clones of Pinot Noir. The vines are farmed to produce no more than two tons of fruit per acre.
A creation coming out of 4 different Pinot Noir Clones. But the way that Jeff blends the clones together to create the distinctive Pinot Noir flavor is a gift and definitely his winemaker style. A much more richer Pinot Noir blend, and one of my favorites.
The explanations came straight from Lula Cellars with a few remarks made by me, but truly, the only way to truly know is to take the time to taste these brilliant wines yourself. All wines are sold Direct to Consumer straight out of the tasting room along with a few restaurants along the Mendocino Coast.
Lula Cellars also does a GREAT job of giving food pairing suggestions with their wines. To read more about Lula Cellars, their wines, and their story, visit their site, and be sure to visit them on Facebook.
During our evening stay at Lula Cellars, we captured an amazing sunset down the road from Lula Cellars. Thought it’d be fun to share a few of those photos from the night: