Sauvignon Blanc Regional Profile – Mendocino


In this Sauvignon Blanc Regional Profile, Resident Master Sommelier, Catherine Fallis of Planet Grape, gives us an overview of Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc!

The vineyards of McFadden Farm.

The vineyards of McFadden Farm.

Sauvignon Blanc does well all over Mendocino County, even the cool, foggy areas like Anderson Valley AVA and Potter Valley AVA. It is hard to pinpoint a regional or even sub-regional signature style, though as it warms up, riper tropical flavors emerge and take us beyond citrus and green. One thing I can say across the board is that the wines are exquisitely balanced, refreshing, lively, and largely un-oaked, giving them a broad spectrum at the table.

Anderson Valley is a large well-known producer of sparkling wine as well as some of the country’s best Pinot Noir. Handley Cellars’ Anderson Valley Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and fruity with notes of lemon wedge, grapefruit, lemongrass, spring pea and yellow rose, reflecting it’s cooler origin. The upland Potter Valley AVA, at about 200 feet higher in elevation than the area’s other wine regions, is cooler still – getting the fog even when Anderson Valley does not – and enjoys a strong diurnal variation, giving the grapes a chance to ripen at a relaxed pace. The organically grown McFadden Sauvignon Blanc Estate is soft, crisp and fresh with notes of green apple, lemon tart, violet and spring peas. The organically grown Blue Quail by McFadden Sauvignon Blanc is sweet-tart, bright and crisp with notes of lemon, peach, kiwi, cherimoya, pineapple, sea spray, chive, and creamsicle on the finish.

Another standout region for Sauvignon Blanc is the Yorkville Highlands AVA. Temperatures here are moderate and the soils are highly porous and gravely like they are in Graves, the area that gives us great dry white Bordeaux wines such as Chateau Haut Brion Blanc. The vines are low-vigor and give concentrated fruit as a result. The Yorkville Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Randle Hills is medium-bodied and refreshing with notes of lemon drop, mango, pineapple upside down cake, ripe cherry tomato and candied violet. Their Semillon Randle Hill is a traditional orange wine with slightly chewy tannins and notes of white raisin, orange marmalade, and peach skin.

Bliss Family, on the east side of the valley in Hopland within the general Mendocino AVA, has a well-priced Sauvignon Blanc that is clean, dry and pithy with notes or ripe peach, gala apple, lemon rind, tarragon and white pepper. From the west side of the valley, the Brutocao Sauvignon Blanc Feliz Vineyard is punchy, pithy and dry with notes of starburst, guava, pineapple rind, lemon and lime zest.

~Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, aka grape goddess

Discover more about Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc in our latest story here

Explore terrific Sauvignon Blanc pairing ideas specifically crafted for many of the wines mentioned in this profile here

CF at Lookout RidgeIt’s all about wine at planet grape®, your go-to source of wine news, wine knowledge, wine reviews and recommendations. The online home of one of the world’s top wine experts. The creation of Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, aka grape goddess®. Extraordinary wine aficionado, amazingly informative and plenty of fun. Wine scholar, expert judge, consultant, and writer. A remarkable woman who has well deserved the highest accolades, and the most coveted award in the wine industry. Master Sommelier! Available for keynote speaking engagements, wine tastings, weddings, parties, all sorts of events. All about, or enhanced by, the joy of wine. Visit us at

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