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Mendocino Ridge: regional profile and the wines to buy

Zinfandel defined Mendocino Ridge for a century. But today Burgundian varieties thrive in this uniquely non-contiguous Californian AVA, formed of 24 peaks reaching up to 800m altitude. Jonathan Cristaldi takes a trip and picks out 19 top wines to try.

Winemakers Steve Alden of Murder Ridge and Dan Dooling of Mariah Vineyards maintained a strict code of silence as they petitioned for the creation of the Mendocino Ridge AVA – the first and only American appellation with a non-contiguous boundary.

In the 1990s, a cabal of vintners pushing to create the neighbouring Yorkville Highlands AVA wanted to include the ridgetops farmed by Alden and Dooling in their petition. Leveraging old newspaper and magazine articles to establish precedent, they proved the in-land meadows and valleys of Yorkville Highlands differed in terroir and climate from their timber-type, coastal ridgetop sites.

Their covert efforts paid off. On 26 December 1997, there were no objections during the commenting period and Mendocino Ridge achieved AVA status.


Scroll down for tasting notes and scores of 19 wines from Mendocino Ridge


Mendocino Ridge: 19 wines to try from this unique AVA

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