The dog days of summer have arrived in Mendocino County, which for wine enthusiasts should probably be renamed the “rosé days of summer.” When an adult beverage is called for during pool parties, beach picnics or lazy river days — it’s gotta be rosé.
The number of rosés produced by Mendocino County wineries is growing, and stopping by a local grocery to pick up a few bottles can turn into an overwhelming experience. To make that task a little less daunting, we tasted 30 Mendocino County rosés and selected the most delicious wines for any occasion. The only requirement: all wines had to be produced by a Mendocino County-based winery and/or produced using Mendocino County grapes.
Start with a little sparkle
Roederer Estate Brut Rosé ($39)
If it’s good enough for the White House, it’s good enough for your backyard barbecue! Roederer Estate’s multi-vintage rosé comprises a blend of 56% pinot noir and 44% chardonnay and is crisp, acidic, and has light notes of strawberries and raspberries and a delicate brioche you expect from a fine Champagne. It’s not only delicious but its salmon color is beautiful in the glass. Roederer Estate is the closest thing you’ll find to French Champagne in the region — the Anderson Valley winery serves as the American outpost of the famed Champagne Louis Roederer, one of the oldest family-owned Champagne houses in France.
A fragrant pink for those who love to stop and smell the roses
McNab Ridge Winery 2022 Grenache Rosé ($15)
McNab’s rosé of grenache is the most fragrant and glamorous of the wines we tasted, and at $15 a bottle it’s worth stocking by the case. It’s a pastel pink color that will stand out in a wine bucket at any summer party, from baby showers to birthday bashes. Winemaker Rich Parducci created an elegant wine with a fragrant nose of white roses paired with tastes of mango, rhubarb and apricot. Fans of viognier will love this wine.
A rosé for lazy river days
Orsa Wines 2022 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($25)
Based in Hopland, Orsa crafts small lots of low-intervention wines from Mendocino and Sonoma County vineyards, including this delicious light pink-orange rosé from the Russian River Valley. Made with pinot noir grapes, it’s a zesty and tart wine with a unique herbaceousness and a note of minerality that make it an easy sipper for floating down the river. If Blue Lakes calls you instead, you can buy a magnum for the pontoon (just don’t drive after!).
For fans of organic (and French) everything
Minus Tide 2022 Feliz Creek Vineyard Carignan Rosé ($27)
A project of Miriam Jonas (J.A.M. PR) and winemakers Brad Jonas (Toulouse Vineyards) and Kyle Jeffrey (Woods Beer & Wine Co.), Minus Tide produces organic, lower alcohol wines from family-owned, dry-farmed vineyards. This salmon -colored rosé was produced from 115-year-old carignan vines in Hopland. The wine’s lovely watermelon notes and mouthwatering acid transported us to the south of France, where we imagined sipping delicate rosés all day at cafes along the French Riviera.
A consistent summer favorite that pairs perfectly with garden veggies
Nelson Family Vineyards 2022 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($25)
The Nelson family has been producing stellar wines for decades at their 2,000-acre farm in Hopland. Third generation winemaker Chris Nelson has consistently produced solid rosés of pinot noir from the family’s estate-grown grapes for years. This one delighted us with its vibrant peachy color and notes of rhubarb and cherry, which lends a tart yet fruit-forward character to the wine. It’s a perfect wine to pair with fresh salads such as the Italian summer favorite of melon and prosciutto or a fresh Greek salad with salty feta.
A bold Zinfandel rosé that will be your go-to pizza wine
Husch Vineyards 2022 Blaze Rosé ($18)
Named after the bright red climbing roses that decorate the exterior of Husch’s tasting room in Philo, the Blaze Rosé is 100% zinfandel, something wine drinkers don’t see very often in the world of rosé. The grapes are from the historic Garzini Vineyard in Talmage. This rosé is chock-full of acid, which makes your mouth water, while rich with notes of stone fruit, tangerine and honeysuckle. Its minerality and zestiness makes for a perfect pairing for a pizza night, especially a white pizza and Caesar salad.
A historic vineyard wine that is a match for fresh seafood
Graziano 2022 Carignan Rosé ($18)
For over 100 years the Graziano family has produced award-winning wines, and this rosé is no exception. This wine was produced from over 85-year-old carignan vines from the family’s Vicenzo Vineyard in Calpella. Winemaker-owner Greg Graziano crafted a 100% barrel fermented wine which created a beautiful pale pink shade and fruitful notes of fresh summer berries and melon, making a tangy yet delicately sweet wine. A perfect pairing with fresh seafood including Humboldt Bay oysters or grilled rockfish taco fresh from Noyo Harbor.
A red wine (and steak) lovers rosé
Carol Shelton 2022 Wild Thing Rendezvous Rosé ($20)
The creation of legendary winemaker Carol Shelton, Wild Thing is a cranberry-colored bottle of goodness that makes for a great gateway rosé for wine drinkers that often declare “I prefer a red!” when rosé gets poured at a party. Comprising a blend of Mendocino County grown carignan, zinfandel and petite sirah, Shelton describes the Rendezvous Rosé as “luscious,” and we couldn’t agree more. It’s full of rich flavor, including strawberries and raspberries and a lovely acid that makes this a super food-friendly wine. Pair it with a tuna steak, tri-tip sandwich or a juicy prime rib.
A pink rosé of pinot that Barbie fans will love
Greenwood Ridge Vineyards 2022 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($34)
The northernmost outpost of Wilson Artisan Wines, Greenwood Ridge in Philo is notable for its award-winning pinot noirs, impressive architecture (the tasting room is built from the wood of one giant redwood tree!) and legendary parties that draw wine club members from across the region – which means a lot of rosé is poured, including the winery’s new rosé of pinot. Made from pinot noir sourced from the Russian River Valley, it has a stunningly bright pink-copper shade that Barbie would approve. This wine stands out for its peach and honeydew notes.
A delightful hot weather patio sipper
Navarro Vineyards 2022 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($27)
Navarro produced three rosés this year from different varietals, and while all were tasty, it was the pinot noir that took our patio sippin’ award this year. A pleasantly Provence-style pink, this rosé has delicate floral notes on the nose followed by a juicy mouthful of summer fruits, including farmstand cherries, raspberries and strawberries. Serve it ice cold and curl up in the shade with a good book.
Note: Sarah Stierch covers food, beverage, culture, weather and breaking news for The Mendocino Voice. Contact Stierch at [email protected]. The Voice maintains editorial control.