Robert Mailer Anderson’s 2001 novel Boonville featured such memorable characters as a marijuana-growing grandma and a potter named Pensive Prairie Sunset. Here Anderson shares his favorite haunts in the small town.
“Enjoy dinner at the Boonville Hotel (shown), and then wander the gardens outside with a glass of Golden Eye pinot. (If you looted their wine cellar with me in high school, I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations is up.)”
“Sing-alongs to jukebox favorites occur spontaneously at the Boonville Saloon. Most weekends could be considered a family reunion, but with a few less fights.”
“Cross the city limits south of Boonville and park by the towers of gravel (a poor man’s Stonehenge). Then turn up your radio and look at our stars. They’re better than yours.”
Stop by the tasting room at Navarro Vineyards and sip floral, dry gewürztraminer and light méthode à l’ancienne pinot noir. Non-drinkers should try verjus, a tart juice made from young grapes. Schedule a vineyard tour and walk between rows of budding vines as sheep (Navarro’s lawn mowers) munch on mustard flowers and wild calendulas.
Two and a half hours north of San Francisco, Anderson Valley is a woodsy alternative to the more crowded Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Encompassing the towns of Yorkville, Boonville, Philo, and Navarro, this quirky rural area once known for its apples is now famous for wine.
Philo Apple Farm
At the Apple Farm, sleep in wooden cottages surrounded by one of the valley’s last major orchards. Sally and Don Schmitt, founders of the French Laundry, the legendary restaurant in Yountville, California, run the farm with their daughter and son-in-law. As part of a Farm Weekend stay, which includes four cooking classes, guests learn how to make braised rabbit with polenta in peanut-mole sauce, wine-glazed squid, cauliflower soufflé with brown butter, and other delectable dishes.
>> Next: The AFAR Guide to California
Annie Gowan Stone