Why I love Mendocino

Just got back from a trip to California. Ostensibly I was there on book tour, but I stayed on the West Coast waaaay past my event.  I did some productive things–spoke with a writing class at CCA, visited a book club, visited tons of book stores–but also, I chilled out in Mendocino.

I go to Mendocino because of the nearby Anderson Valley wineries, the ocean, Glenna Hunter’s healing massages, Cafe Beaujolais, and the Joshua Grindle Inn.

The wineries: Favorites are: Navarro, Toulouse, Esterlina.  Also tasted Londer wines for the first time and they were great.  The appealing thing about the Anderson Valley wineries is their small scale.  Half of the time the wine maker himself (or herself) is the one pouring the tastes.  Like Vern, the retired fire chief from Oakland who now makes awarding winning wines at Toulouse.

The Anderson Valley is kind of the anti-Napa.  Sonoma used to be called the anti-Napa, but I think the AV has usurped that title. No fake chateaus here.

The ocean.  What can I say, Mendocino is a penisula, protected from development.  Here’s what you see when you walk along the town’s border:

The massage: Glenna Hunter is, hands down, the wisest woman I know.  Technically she gives massage, but it’s really therapy / spiritual healing.

The Joshua Grindle Inn: It’s where Alan and I stayed on one of our very first trips together, and it’s where we went back for our honeymoon.  It’s run by Charles and Cindy who manage to be both friendly, engaged, and unobtrusive. If you want your private time, they will make sure you have it, but they’ll also chat you up at breakfast if you want to talk.  The inn is beautiful, a restored home from the late 1800′s with water towers behind it. There’s an honor bar with wines from local vineyards (and the wines are at cost), there are fresh cookies in your room when you arrive. This time Glenna and Cindy had put together a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for my arrival, congratulating me on the book.  There’s no TV at the inn.  No phones.  There is now wireless, which is kind of a shame, though I did check my email.

The beds at the inn are comfy, the bathtub has a whirlpool AND rubber ducks, and best of all, the front of the inn is a blooming, colorful garden.  There are aidorandacks in the garden, and one of my favorite things to do is to sit amongst the flowers and read a novel.  (This trip I read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and LOVED It.)  But the best things about the Josh Grin Inn is simply that it is really peaceful there.  It’s a place where you feel very, very well taken care of, in the most low-key of ways.

Staying at the Josh Grin allows you to park your car and walk the whole time you are in Mendo.  At night we walk to Cafe Beaujolais, a very Northern CA place that serves French (ish) food.  Howard with his tiny waist and crazy hair used to manage the place and I have to say I miss him now that he’s retired.  But the food is as good as ever. They make this sturgeon served over homemade pasta with candy cap mushrooms that is insanely good.  The candy caps taste like molasses and cost something like 100 dollars a pound.  In a nutshell, they kick ass.

Here’s the Josh Grin Inn.  Up close and then far away. Do you think if I click my heels three times I can return?


2 Responses to Why I love Mendocino

  1. Anonymous October 1, 2009 at 5:17 am #

    Mendocino California

    I agree, Glenna Hunter is one of best massage therapists I’ve had the pleasure of having. She’s a treasure. Glad to see a post for her here. Mendocino is a special place, spectacularly beautiful scenery, good food and wine and too many wonderful places to stay to even mention. If you want to be in a healthy environment, enjoy great food and wine, relax with a loved one or friends, this is the place. One mention of caution though, Mendocino has a rugged coast with known “sleeper waves”- waves that come out of nowhere, so NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON THE OCEAN. Last November I witnessed a father of two sons drown just off the headlands due evidently to a sleeper wave.

  2. installer November 6, 2009 at 2:07 pm #


    I didn’t know that about the sleeper waves. That is horrifying about the father and two sons.