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Mendocino: a pioneer in organic wine

mendocino coast
Looking down the scenic Mendocino coast.

In California and around the world, wine is entering a new era as Americans are drinking not only more, but better wine.

A case in point : Mendocino County, California which is often called "America's Greenest Wine Region."

Located north of Sonoma County (and about a 1 1/2 hour drive from San Francisco). the Mendocino wine region is scenic, mountainous, and with has a long tradition of natural grape growing that goes back to the mid-1800's, when Italian immigrant families settled in the area to become Mendocino's first winegrowing pioneers.

With the advent of Prohibition in the early 20th century, the small, struggling Mendocino wine industry almost came to a standstill. Following Prohibition's repeal, new wineries continued to pick up at a steady clip when, in the 1970's, the number of small vineyards boasting handcrafted wines of exceptional quality - suddenly began to skyrocket.

In the 1980's, Mendocino County was finally brought into the international spotlight when wine producers from France discovered Anderson Valley. Today, Mendocino has become a world leader in natural farming practices and a world center for organic wine production.

Mendocino wine cellarPerhaps more eventfully, in 2004 local voters were faced with becoming the meek David to the Goliath U.S. farming industry when - in a surprising upset - they soundly defeated a controversial proposition to introduce genetically altered crops to the area.

Mendicino quietly, but proudly, continues at the forefront old-fashioned wine production using organic, hand-crafted methods to produce 'revolutionary' vintages.

Of course, wine's ultimate natural environment is at the family dinner table, with good food shared with friends and loved ones. That's how Italian immigrants in California enjoyed wine in the 19th century. It's a robust tradition that - thanks in part to Mendocino County - still survives into the 21st.

More about Mendocino wineries around the Web:

Mendocino County wine - Wikipedia overview with a short history, and information on area wineries, wine varieties, climate and geography, with photos and related resources.

10 Best Mendocino County Wineries - California Wine Advisor guide offering information on their pick of top wineries in Mendocino and the Anderson Valley.

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