MEET OUR ANDERSON VALLEY TASTING ROOM MANAGER, MARK MENDENHALL

Mark got his start in the wine industry over 15 years ago, when he followed a couple of college friends out to California. After working for multiple wineries in the Napa Valley, Mark decided to leave Napa for Philo. 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE WINE INDUSTRY?

The people! Everyone is happy to be a part of this industry, because it is fun and exciting.

WHAT WAS YOUR “AHA” WINE MOMENT?

Drinking vintage Salon Champagne at Auberge du Soleil on my birthday just after I moved to Napa was pretty epic. My first boss took me out to her favorite spot for my birthday and we had a blast! The company I was with, paired with the food, that bottle of Salon and the setting was perfect! Did I mention the vintage Salon?

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT FAVORITE LONG MEADOW RANCH WINE AND WHY?

Our 2015 Chardonnay Tanbark Mill Vineyard, Feliz from our Anderson Valley Estate is absolutely one of the best Chardonnays I have ever had. It is nicely balanced and a wonderful expression of our Tanbark Mill Vineyard.

WHAT CURRENT WINE TREND ARE YOU NOTICING RIGHT NOW?

Esoteric white varietals. The traditional Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay consumer is branching out and willing to try Pinot Noir Blanc and Pinot Gris. When guests open their mind to trying new wines, they soon discover how wonderful the world of wine really is. Take for example, in our new tasting room, guests can try several different expressions of the same grape grown in the same vineyard. What is not to love about that? I love our Anderson Valley Chardonnays, but come up to the Anderson Valley and taste the 2016 Pinot Noir Blanc. I’ll bet you will find it extremely compelling.

WHAT MAKES A GREAT TASTING EXPERIENCE?

It is about providing a great space, with incredible wines, homegrown food pairings, and fun good music. It is a wonderful privilege to bring this to our guests.

IS THERE A WINE REGION THAT YOU’VE GOT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?

Burgundy. I’ve had some amazing wines from there.

YOU HAVE BEEN LIVING IN ANDERSON VALLEY FOR A WHILE. WHAT KEEPS YOU THERE?

There is a real sense of community and despite how rural it is, there is no shortage of things to do on any given night. Having dinner and enjoying wine is a regular occurrence with so many wonderful people.

WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT ANDERSON VALLEY?

How beautiful it is. A lot of people mix it up with Alexander Valley (just north of Calistoga). So we get that a lot.

FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT IN ANDERSON VALLEY?

There are only three restaurants. I’d say the food up here is exceptionally fresh and good. After a long day, we often enjoy going to Lauren’s. For over 20 years Lauren has had her spot in downtown Boonville or DoBo as we call it. You can get a delicious burger, with the best french fries, or a great chicken tostada, and the always delicious Asian Big Bowl. We however cook a lot at home, my favorite home cooked meal (and this is tough) is probably the chicken marsala from Cook’s Illustrated.

BEST OUTDOOR ACTIVITY IN ANDERSON VALLEY?

Visiting Hendy Woods State Park, which is subsequently just across the street from our ranch, Tanbark Mill. Hendy Woods allows visitors the opportunity to get up close with our giant redwoods. But for locals it’s also a place to unwind. The Navarro River runs through Hendy Woods and in the winter watching the river swell, “A Log Lifter” in Boontling, is an epic event.

LASTLY, GIVE US ONE SMALL-TOWN SECRET.

Oh I can’t give those away. However, the Aromatic White Wine Festival in February is always a great event at our local fairgrounds. Great producers of historically Alsatian white grapes. We get producers from France, Germany, Michigan, and of course California. It’s a wonderful time of year to visit the Anderson Valley too. It’s a bit slower in terms of tourists, and the winter food that we pair with the wines is always outrageous. Nothing like a bottle of Pinot Gris with the Boonville Hotel’s Choucroute Garrnie.