The Real Juice in Wine Country

What happens when two non-drinkers visit wine country?

They discover that grapes destined for fine wine also make excellent juice.  This isn’t the super-sweet, flat, purple juice of childhood but rather a full-bodied nectar with many of the same complex flavors that make the wines special.

The Vineyards of Mendocino Wine Country

The Vineyards of Mendocino Wine Country

While in Mendocino County California, we were tipped off to the semi-secret juice business while dining at The Mendo Bistro. After we ordered a glass of the Navarro Vineyard‘s 2006 Pinot Noir juice, we were smitten.  It was fragrant and sweet with numerous levels of depth to its flavor.  Our waitress was extra helpful pointing out that in addition to the Navarro Pinot Noir juice on their menu, Husch also bottled the juice of their grapes.

An hour after leaving the restaurant we were perplexed: why didn’t we simply buy a bottle there?  Regardless of our initial error, we were set on obtaining this new ambrosia.  A quick call to the vineyard to confirm it was for sale, and onto the return trip it went – no matter that it was over an hour in the opposite direction of home.  We tasted a total of three juices and bought two:

(We also couldn’t resist picking up a bottle of Verjus which was widely used in the Middle Ages.)

It’s true that the juice is not local to our neighborhood, but there is some consolation in that fact that it was when we bought it.  Fortunately we can occasionally obtain Müller-Thurgau juice from the vineyard down the street when our lives don’t take us past the vineyards of Northern California.

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