Wise elders will share decades of knowledge and experience in a series of workshops at The Madrones, a little bit of Italy in the middle of Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley.
Host Jim Roberts, a designer who has spent years creating this tasteful center for food, wine, art and respite along Highway 128 in Philo, has tapped neighboring luminaries like Fran Gage, chocolate and sparkling wine entrepreneur John Scharffenberger and former San Francisco Botanical Garden director Walt Valen, to lead workshops in what he is calling, “The Elder Series.”
First up is a Spring Birding expedition Sunday April 22 to the private ranch in the Yorkville Highlands of Margo Rawlins, a naturalist who has birded in Africa, Costa Rica and around the U.S. She will be accompanied on the 2- 1/2 hour field experience by Brad Goodhart, who has planned and led over 100 safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, The Congo and South America.
The hike will end with a picnic lunch and a chance to talk about what you have seen.
The outings is from 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., departing from The Madrones at 9 a.m.:Cost is $75.
Other upcoming workshops range from Domestic Olive Oil Production and Evaluation by Kit Lee of Old Chatham Ranch, Jim Roberts and Fran Gage; Sauerkraut and the Art of Fermentation by John Scharffenberger; Structuring a Garden and Plant Material Selection by Walt Valen; Mushroom Foraging with Winemaker Tom Rodriguez, and more.
Prices vary, starting at $50.
You can make it a learning staycation by overnighting at The Madrones. Roberts offers two smartly decorated overnight suites with a sitting room and separate bedroom, a fridge and microwave and full bath, starting at $195 a night.
The suites surround a quiet garden.
If you like to wine taste but hate the idea of driving from tasting room to tasting room, you can taste on site. Four tasting rooms occupy the complex: Lula, Drew Family, Berridge and Bink.
“Sun and Cricket,” a fun shop on the grounds, offers artisan farmstead and imported cheeses, gourmet foods and an eclectic mix of books, antiques, garden tools and classic toys, all the things Roberts loves.

The shop and tasting rooms are open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 9000 Hwy 128 outside of Philo. For info visit themadrones.com.