Proprietor Jim Roberts has created a bit of heaven in the midst of Mendocino wine country. Located in the heart of the Anderson Valley, between Boonville and Philo, The Madrones is the current incarnation of Jim's passion for interior design, an interest he had nurtured while working and living with his mother in Hawaii in the 80's.
Jim moved back to the Bay Area when the Japanese market fizzled, and thus the volume of business declined dramatically. He left the design business for a few years but by the mid-90's Jim decided to jump back in and did with both feet establishing projects in both the City and El Sobrante.
Soon thereafter, Jim began developing the property on Highway 128, in Philo which he had purchased during the go-go years in Hawaii. Originally established as his escape from, first southern California and, later the immediate Bay Area, The Madrones, by the late 90's, had become Jim's home base for his interior design business, Taylor Roberts. With clients in the Bay Area, up and down the West Coast and Hawaii the business grew to over 40 employees including a warehouse operation in Ukiah. Jim built his design business until the recession of 2008 virtually took the wind out of his 'sales' (sic).
After taking a year off to clear his head and reevaluate his direction, Jim returned to The Madrones with new vigor and a different direction. Employing his style for elegant design he created four guest suites on the 2nd floor of the property and developed retail space for four winery tasting rooms as well as his long sought-after retail gift shop, called Sun & Cricket.
The guest suites will blow you away. The designs are stylish and very well composed despite an eclectic collection of Asian influenced furnishings, bold colors and 50's Americana. Some have windows overlooking neighboring vineyards and others have courtyard views. All are beautiful and quiet and very pastoral. Each has a small refrigerator, microwave, coffer maker, kitchen sink and other amenities including wireless wifi. The two bedroom suite has a full kitchen with counter top burners and a full sized refrigerator. each room has sitting areas and of course the obligatory satellite TV if you need contact with the outside world. Although, one would wonder why when you are already in heaven.
Meanwhile, downstairs offers the Sun & Cricket gift shop which is wall to wall stocked with one of a kind items that Jim collects locally and on his travels. His mother had antique stores and he knows the difference between trash and treasures. Everything is beautifully displayed and the room itself is sumptuous with its sky high ceilings and wonderful light. This space is worth a stop even if you were just passing by and not interested in the wine tasting or the lodging.
Jim has done very well in bringing in small lot, premium wineries from the surrounding area who are either to remote or to small to have separate tasting rooms in town or on their properties. Bink Wines specializes in small lot, sustainably grown fruit from Yorkville Highlands, another Mendocino AVA. Berridge Wine Company and Lula Cellars have recently relocated but Knez Winery and Signal Ridge will be moving in shortly. The anchor remains Drew Family Cellars whose Pinot Noir from Valenti Vineyard on Mendocino Ridge is a standout and widely praised. Jason and Molly Drew have nurtured their winemaking prowess in Sonoma, South Australia, Napa and Santa Barbara County. Jason also consults for Balo Vineyards, owned by Michele and Tim Mullins which is located across the street from The Madrones.
Jim is able to bring in high quality restaurants or caterers to provide food for special events which he is happy to host. At a recent event, in preparation for the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association's (AVWA), 8th Annual Alsace Varietal Festival, Jim enticed Ukiah restaurateur, Cynthia Ariosta, proprietor of Saucy which opened late last year. Cynthia has teamed with Mitch Mount, formerly of Tra Vigne and La Brea Bakery and Iron Horse former owner/winemaker Forrest Tancer to create Saucy which specializes in Neapolitan style pizza and Italian cuisine. Jim helped Cynthia bring in a special transportable pizza oven (Mugnaini) for the event. The pizzas were authentic, delectable, fresh and fun. As an added bonus, celebrity chef and 'father of wine country cuisine', John Ash was gracious enough to attend.
The bottom-line is that The Madrones is a wonderful place to stay whether for a night or a week. The surrounding area is filled with things to do and no one can trump Jim Roberts for generosity, hospitality or gentility.
To get to the Madrones from the Bay Area, take Highway 101 N to Cloverdale (90 miles north of SF), take the 3rd Cloverdale exit (Hwy 128 toward Boonville/Ft. Bragg) and drive for about 30 miles. The Madrones is just past Goldeneye Winery on the left as the road curves. Easy to miss but if you get to Philo stop at Scharffenberger Cellars, on the right, for a glass of sparkling and then turn around and head back. :-)