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One winery that is absolutely worth the trip out to the Anderson Valley is Goldeneye. I have been twice, and both times we did the regular tasting – a ‘must do’ for serious Pinot Noir lovers.

After a quick sip of Pinot Gris, we were led outside to a fabulous seating area overlooking the vineyard. They brought out a tasting flight of six different Pinot Noirs each. I love that they are served in proper Pinot Noir glasses! (In very classy Riedel stemless glasses, my new favorite!). The tasting is accompanied by dried fruit and almonds. What a treat. It definitely beats lining up at the tasting counter and means you get time to savor some seriously good Pinots.   My favorite was the 2011 Goldeneye Pinot Noir from the Gowan Creek Vineyard – but I promise all wines are special. Doing this kind of tasting you quickly realize that they are distinctly different wines – a testament to the diverse soil types and climate in the Anderson Valley.

The views of the vineyards and Redwood trees are the best we saw in the valley and the service could not have been better. We found the staff to be friendly, knowledgeable and unpretentious. They took the time to chat with us and checked on us regularly.

If you’re wondering who owns the winery, there is no mistaking the 30 or so wooden ducks in the tasting room – appropriate décor for a Duckhorn winery! (Labels include Duckhorn, Paraduxx, Migration and Decoy). We learned that Goldeneye Winery’s 2005 Pinot Noir was served at the Obama inaugural luncheon. Somebody at the White House has good taste!

You will not by-pass Goldeneye on a wine list after a visit to the winery. I’d highly recommend this tasting and it is excellent value for money too.

A little about the Anderson Valley: The Anderson Valley is made up of 30+ wineries all located on Northern California’s Highway 128 that runs between the coast and inland towards the 101. Visiting is a little like going back in time. There are less people and it is a lot more low key that winetasting in Napa or Sonoma. If you’re thinking about visiting here is my guide to Anderson Valley wineries.

Expert tips:

If you’re planning to taste sparkling wines at Roederer or Scharffenberger, I recommend you do that first, then go to Goldeneye. Best to save your palate and finish with the Pinots!

WineryCritic Ratings

9/10 Overall visitor experience

9/10 Knowledge of guide

9/10 Location

9/10 Architecture and design, landscaping

9/10 Other experiences

10/10 Friendliness of staff

9/10 Signage & ease of access

9/10 Quality of the wines poured

10/10 Value for money

Appointment required: No, but strongly encouraged.

Address: 9200 Highway 128, Philo, CA 95466

 www.goldeneyewinery.com

Tasting fees & experiences:

  • $15 per person – Taste several current release Pinot Noirs as well as wines from their Migration label.
  • $35 per person – Estate Tasting: Guided tasting with wine educator and barrel tasting. Appointment required.
  • $50 per person – Alfresco Picnic Lunch: Wine-paired picnic lunch set in the Estate vineyard and courtyard. Appointment required. Daily at 12pm.

Hours 10:30am – 4:30pm

Good for:  Pinot Noir lovers

Wines produced:  Pinot Noir, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris

What’s nearby:  Scharffenberger Cellars, Roederer Estate, Boonville.

District/Appellation: Anderson Valley

Contact for appointments:  (800) 208-0438 for reservations or email reservations@goldeneyewinery.com

Date of visit: April 25 & June 25, 2014

Email: mindy@winerycritic.com

Have you been to Goldeneye? What was your experience? Please post below.

Mindy Joyce