Decanter travel guide: Anderson Valley, California

An oasis from Napa’s glitz and glamour, this is the wine region to visit for unpretentious dining, redwood forests and excellent Pinot Noir, says Stephen Brook, who shares his Anderson Valley travel guide.

Anderson Valley travel guide: Where to stay, eat, shop and relax

Anderson Valley hotels

Boonville Hotel

Charming, laid-back roadside inn with verandahs and hammocks. Stay in the main building or in one of the seven cottages set among lovely gardens. Light breakfasts and prix-fixe dinners in the evening. boonvillehotel.com

The Madrones

Just north of Boonville, this offers four individually furnished suites in a quiet location, and is the most sophisticated option in the valley. There’s also an on-site restaurant, Stone & Embers, featuring fresh food from a wood-burning oven, that only opens at weekends. themadrones.com

The Apple Farm

An unconventional choice is the bucolic setting of the Apple Farm near Philo, which cultivates 80 varieties of apple. It offers three surprisingly spacious cottages within the orchards, offered on a B&B basis. There are picnic areas and improvised meals. philoapplefarm.com

Albion River Inn, Albion

Although not in Anderson Valley itself, this luxurious hotel may appeal to those who don’t seek the more rustic charms of the valley, which is just 25km away. There are 22 comfortable rooms with superb views over the Pacific, as well as a popular bar and fine restaurant, with a superb wine list, featuring some bargain bottles at the top end. A cooked breakfast is included in your stay. albionriverinn.com

Anderson Valley restaurants

Aquarelle

Although calling itself a wine bar, Aquarelle serves proper dinners. The copious salads are organically grown, while main courses have a more international background. Prawns caught in the wild, crab cakes and ahi tuna are all good choices, though there a few meat options too. Small plates available for diners into sharing. Local wines and friendly if sometimes sluggish service. Tel: +1 (707) 895 2767

Lauren’s

‘Good Food, Good Times’ is Lauren’s motto, and an accurate one. Don’t come to this cavernous Boonville bar and restaurant for refined cooking, but the portions are hearty and the range of cuisines – Asian, Mexican, Italian and American classics – imposing. There are pizzas and sandwiches to go too. laurensgoodfood.com

Coq au Vin

In an isolated roadside spot north of Philo is this cosy, family-run restaurant serving classic French bourgeois cuisine with an American accent. Attentive service, good local wines, and generous portions make this a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike. Open Thursday to Monday only. Reservations advised. Tel: +1 (707) 895 9255

Anderson Valley shops

Wine shops? There are no wine shops in Anderson Valley! That’s because most visitors tend to buy directly from tasting rooms. But groceries in Boonville such as Lemon’s and the Navarro Store at the northern end of the valley carry a decent selection of local wines.

Architectural Elements

Since 1955 this company has specialised in salvaging wood from redundant old buildings in the region and refashioning them as tables and other furniture. Ancient redwoods are protected now, but a century ago this was not the case, so this is the only way to acquire furniture from this beautiful wood. Shipping is possible though costly. Open Tuesday to Friday. architecturalelementsofav.com

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