Like so much of Anderson Valley, its history is legend, passed down by residents from as far back as the mid 1800’s.
The valley was originally inhabited by the Native American Pomo tribe residing in nineteen known village sites, with an estimated population of 600 by the mid 1800’s. Legend has it that the first European explorers found their way to the valley by accident in 1851. Walter Anderson was tracking a wounded deer through the wilderness and was separated from his hunting party. After many hours of trailing the deer, he crested a rocky outcropping just south of what is now Boonville and looked out onto the land. Whether he caught up with the deer or not is unknown, but he did report back to his hunting companions about the amazing valley he had stumbled upon and his desire to return.
Not long after Walter Anderson settled in the valley, other settlers followed. W.W. Boone (for whom the town of Boonville was eventually named), Henry Beeson (who took part in the Bear Flag Revolt), his brother Isaac Beeson and William Anderson, their stepbrother, for whom the valley was named. Boonville quickly established itself as the commercial center and largest of the four settlements in the valley, with farming, timber and livestock the primary trades. By the 1880’s over 1000 people had found their way to Anderson’s valley, but the area still remained isolated from the outside world due to the difficult and precipitous routes in and out of the valley.
Perhaps the most interesting chapter of Anderson Valley lore is its native language, Boontling. Still spoken by a handful of residents, Boontling is considered by modern linguists to be one of the world’s most extraordinary examples of a homemade language. At its peak Boontling was even taught in the valley’s schools and it was not uncommon for bright lighters (outsiders) to be completely dumbfounded by local conversation.
In the 1980s a wineboom began leading to the establishment of the Anderson Valley AVA, specializing in Alsatian varietals, Pinot Noir and sparkling wine. Like much of Mendocino County, the hospitality industry is a natural adjunct to wine production. Fine restaurants and quality lodging are in good supply. The pleasant natural environment and rural lifestyle attracts artists, writers, musicians and a variety of skilled crafts people.
The Anderson Valley is a cornucopia of sensory delights, sights, smells, and tastes like no other place. We hope you come visit the valley and spend time enjoying our own slice of heaven on earth.