Saturday, September 30, 2023


RVing and wine tasting in Mendocino County, California, with Harvest Hosts

I’ve talked before about how awesome a match Harvest Hosts is for wine-loving RVers. Not only do you get to enjoy great wines, you get a scenic, safe place to park as a bonus. After visiting several great hosts in California’s Paso Robles wine region, I decided to head farther north up Highway 101 to check out wine tasting in Mendocino County.

As I was en route to visit friends in Eureka, I did not want to venture too far out of my way. It turns out I didn’t have to.

Not only did I find two fabulous Mendocino County wineries right off Highway 101, they turned out to be my two favorite Harvest Host wineries ever… at least so far!

In fact, I enjoyed these Mendocino County wineries so much, I stayed at them again for a second time on my return trip!

Mendocino County wine tasting at Nelson Family Vineyards

Wine tasting in Mendocino County - Nelson Family VInyards
The redwood grove at Nelson Family Vineyards

No matter which way you turn, you are immersed in different quintessential California vistas on this enormous 2000-acre ranch where the Nelson family has been farming for more than 70 years.

Directly outside the tasting room, you can sip your wine and picnic in shaded comfort among awe-inspiring, towering redwood trees.

The farm’s rolling hills are covered in sustainably farmed vineyards, as well as trees bearing Bartlett pears and olives, not to mention live Christmas trees.

Harvest Hosts parking is about 1/2 mile from the tasting room, way at the back of the property, and set in a private space surrounded by hills, trees, and vineyards.

There’s a ton of space here in what is otherwise special event parking for the winery. Parking is easy and level.

The best part is you never have to be too close to neighbors. There was even plenty of space to put out the solar panels and recharge my solar generator.

RVing and wine tasting in Mendocino County with Harvest Hosts
Catching rays at Nelson Family Vineyards

The campsite is so remote there is no noise whatsoever, save what Mother Nature provides.

The view from my RV’s front door made it seem as though I had been immersed in a classic California landscape painting.

It was magical. Especially at sunset when the hills cast shadows over the land. Hawks flew overhead and at one point a pair of gobbling wild turkeys ran through the large empty field.

There’s a big variety of quality wines to choose from at Nelson Family Vineyards. I especially liked their lovely crisp sparkling Blanc de Noirs and the Barn Blend, a versatile red.

RVing and wine tasting in Mendocino County at Testa Vineyards

RVing and Wine Tasting in Mendocino County, Testa Vineyards
RV parking at Testa Vineyards

The parking at Testa Vineyards is slightly noisier than Nelson, as it is right off the road.  However, this is a quiet area overall, so you won’t be bothered at night once traffic stalls to nothing.

Six generations of the Testa family have been farming this land since 1912. The winery portion was established in 2010 and specializes in Italian-style wines.

The charming tasting room sits on a hill overlooking the road. There is RV parking on one side and a beautiful and tranquil pond on the other.

I especially loved how wine tastings are structured at Testa and wish more wineries would adopt the “family-style tastings” they serve (see photo at the top of page).

What this means is that the wine is served in carafes instead of in individual glasses.

Everyone in the party is given a single glass and the amount of wine in the carafe is determined by the number of people tasting. But everyone does not have to drink the same amount. Handy if some in the group prefer certain wines over others or some do not want to drink as much. I am sure it also cuts down on a lot of dishwashing and water waste.

The old roots at this biodynamic, dry-farmed winery run deep.

Testa believes great wine starts in the vineyard. They likewise employ a holistic and ecological approach to wine making, free of chemicals and GMOs.

While they offer some interesting varietals, Testa is best known for their “Simply Black and White” wines. These are signature red (aka black, as it’s known in Italy) and white blends.  Simply Black and Simply White are simple, straightforward food friendly wines.

I left with a couple of bottles of each.

In addition to RV parking through Harvest Hosts, there is a guest house for rent on the ranch, in case you have non-RVing family or friends who might want to join in the Mendocino County wine-tasting fun.

BONUS: Nearby laundry, casino camping, and cheap fuel

Coyote Valley Casino

Just down the road from Testa vineyards, you will find a local laundromat. It would be within walking distance if you were not carrying laundry. However, there is a large empty lot next door that will accommodate even huge rigs while they do their laundry.

If you can’t bear to leave the area after wine tasting, you can find some free casino camping just a short stretch down the road in the other direction at the Coyote Valley Casino.

Look behind the casino for a large, level lot that welcomes overnight RVers.

If you opted to stay at either of these wineries, you may or may not need another place to spend the night nearby. But know that Coyote Valley Casino also has the cheapest fuel prices in the area. So plan to fill up here before moving on, regardless of whether or not you opt to stay.

More Mendocino County wine tasting with Harvest Hosts

Harvest Hosts has many more Mendocino County wine tasting hosts and other attractions. I hope to do a Part II to this article next time I visit.

In the meantime, if you have visited any other good RV spots in Mendocino County, drop them in the comments below.

Check out Harvest Hosts and reserve space here. Save 15% on a membership with the code HHFRIENDS15. 



Cheri Sicard
Cheri Sicard
Cheri Sicard is the author 8 published books on topics as diverse as US Citizenship to Cannabis Cooking. Cheri grew up in a circus family and has been RVing on and off her entire life.


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3 months ago

Thanks for the great tips. We found another great Harvest Host winery a few miles east of there in the town of Kelseyville, CA on Clear Lake. Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill is wonderful with plenty of RV parking among the olive trees. Short walk to quaint town with a great bakery and coffee shop.

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