Virtual visits to Anderson Valley

Virtual visits to Anderson Valley

Handley Cellars

Handley Cellars in the Anderson Valley. 

BOONVILLE, California—In a remote corner of Northern California, the wineries of Anderson Valley have long grappled with the difficulties of attracting visitors to their open cellar doors and tasting rooms.

But with the onset of shelter-in-place orders and the current COVID-19 crisis, these predominantly family-owned wineries, like many in the wine industry, have turned their focus online, but have also turned to one another to bolster the community and education of Anderson Valley as a whole.

“We’ve been incredibly touched by the number of people who have reached out to us to see how they can help,” says Ali Smith-Story of Smith Story Wine Cellars. Ali and her husband, Eric, have seen a record number of online sales, a sentiment echoed throughout most of the Valley.

They are also connecting with consumers via online tastings. A recent “Breakfast for Dinner” tasting on Instagram Live helped debut Wickson Restaurant, Anderson Valley’s newest restaurant that has yet to open because of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place directive.

Pennyroyal Farm is also using its online platform to keep the community well supplied with produce with the recent launch of its “Farm Box,” filled with fresh veggies and farm goods. For those outside the pick-up area, you can order their fresh cheeses for shipping nationwide.

Goldeneye Winery, Lula Cellars, Maggy Hawk, Bee Hunter and Baxter are just a few of the other Anderson Valley producers offering different types of online experiences.

In addition to winery experiences, Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association is sponsoring an online class to promote the education and understanding of the appellation. Moderated by Anderson Valley-based sommelier Corrina Strauss (former beverage director for Michelin-starred restaurant Harbor House Inn), the complimentary class will also feature Allan Green (Anderson Valley pioneer who helped create the appellation), Thom Elkjer (Anderson Valley-based wine writer) and Evan Hufford (opening wine director of SingleThread). The seminar will focus on the history, terroir and wines of the region and will take place via Zoom on May 2.

“This isn’t an easy time for anyone, but Anderson Valley is a strong community. Hopefully we’ll come out of this even stronger and use the lessons we are learning to connect with the wine community at large for years to come. But we can’t wait to see new and familiar faces again in the valley soon,” said Courtney DeGraff, executive director for the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association.

In the meantime, the producers of Anderson Valley have recorded a community video so everyone can enjoy #AVatHome. To view the video, as well as see a full list of online experiences, winery promotions and the class sign-up visit

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