The name “Mendocino” comes from the family name of Mendoza in honor of the 16th century Spanish explorer Lorenzo Suarez de Mendoza who explored the Mendocino coast line and his cousin, Antonio de Mendoza the first viceroy of New Spain. The first vineyards in Mendocino were established in the 1850s in the Redwood Valley by returning farmers who failed to find their wealth and prosperity during the Gold Rush.
The Mendocino County region is part of the larger North Coast AVA and one of California’s largest and most climatically diverse wine growing regions, as ten American Viticultural Areas have been designated within its bounds. Chardonnay is the county’s leading planting with about 4,300 acres followed by Cabernet Sauvignon with 2,600 acres and Pinot noir with 1,900 acres.
The Potter Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area centered around town of Potter Valley. The appellation is found east of the Redwood Valley AVA and has an elevation of around 1,200 feet, 200 feet higher than surrounding areas. The Redwood and Potter Valleys face each other on the west and east, respectively, just north of Lake Mendocino.