One probably wouldn’t think of Ukiah as “wine country.”
In California’s Mendocino County, wine lovers typically stroll from tasting room to tasting room along a three-block stretch of Highway 101 in Hopland, or drive west into the bucolic Anderson Valley.
But there are several wineries on the outskirts of Ukiah, as well as wine-focused adventures within the city limits. Rather than simply passing through, you may want to stay for a day or two.
For me, an indulgent Saturday in Ukiah begins with a spiced brown sugar latte and a mushroom and pepper quiche at Black Oak Coffee Roasters. Just like at Starbucks, the Wi-Fi is free.
Then it’s on to the Ukiah Farmers Market at the Alex Thomas Plaza, a great place to gather fresh fruit and other snacks.
After that, I head to Rivino, a family-operated boutique winery on the southern edge of town. There, you can relax with a glass of wine at an umbrella-shaded table adjacent to the estate vineyard.
Several of the local hotels and motels stock promotional cards offering complimentary wine tasting for two at Rivino. Those cards include a map and directions to the winery.
After an early afternoon nap, or perhaps a dip in your hotel’s pool, head downtown. There are art galleries, book stores and other unique shops to explore before paying a visit to Enoteca Wine Bar.
Enoteca proprietor Darcie Antle offers a nice selection of local wines by the glass, as well as some personal Italian favorites.
Then walk over to Saucy for a casual-yet-chic meal. The menu features wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas, pasta, sandwiches and salads, along with wine “on tap” and by the bottle.
It’s a great way to spend a day, and you’ll no longer think of Ukiah merely as a place to refuel the car or fill up on fast food.
P.S.: Ukiah also makes an excellent home base for trips to the aforementioned Anderson Valley, as that area is severely lacking in lodging.
Speaking of Anderson Valley, it will host its first (hopefully to become annual) Barrel Tasting Weekend — an opportunity to glimpse into the future by sampling wines still aging in barrels—on July 27-28. Full information is available here.