Bahl Hornin’ (Good drinking) in Anderson Valley, California

Welcome to Anderson Valley…

Home to dozens of wineries, one of the best craft breweries in the country, a very special state park, and the spoken-nowhere-else (and rarely here anymore) Boontling language.

Mendocino County fairgrounds in Boonville, California

Anderson Valley Brewing

After settling into our cabin at Hendy Woods State Park, we make the 15-minute drive southeast through lovely Anderson Valley to the tiny town of Boonville, home of Anderson Valley Brewing.


We first heard of Anderson Valley Brewing (AVB) when we happened upon their Goses (asking ourselves “what’s a gose?”) stocked at an excellent if oddly located small-town beer store near our house.  It became our weekly routine to make the 10-minute drive for a hike or trail run at the Chickamagua Battlefield, then on the way home pick up a refreshing 6-pack of Holy GoseBlood Orange Gose, or Briney Melon Gose. AVB’s goses were the first sour beers we ever tried, and are still our favorites.

As you can tell from the pictures below, the AVB tap room is quite family and dog friendly, and  during our visit is filled with locals as well as a few fellow tourists.

Dog-friendly and family-friendly Anderson Valley Brewing tap room in Boonville, California

My favorite goses are not currently on tap, instead the tasting room’s 20 taps offer mostly limited release and seasonal beers. Although the tap room does not serve food, on this Saturday afternoon a BBQ food truck is parked on their lot, so we scarf a delicious pulled pork sandwich. And that compliment comes from a couple of Tennessee bbq snobs.

Bahl hornin' (good drinking) at Anderson Valley Brewing tap room in Boonville, California

Out in the beer garden, a local doggo tries to partake in this group’s flyer tasting, while (outside of frame) human visitors chase little kids around and play corn hole.

Dog-friendly and family-friendly Anderson Valley Brewing beer garden in Boonville, California


Boonville is pretty tiny, but the beauty of the valley makes it tempting to take a look at the real estate listings, posted in the window of a charming real estate office.

Town of Boonville in Anderson Valley, California

Real estate office in Boonville, California

Mendocino County fairgrounds in Boonville, California

A Language of its Own: Boontling

Of particular interest to us is Anderson Valley’s regional jargon of Boontling (Boonville + lingo), the exact origin of which is debated. According to the Anderson Valley Historical Society’s museum, Boontling was created in the late 19th century by schoolboys so that their elders could not understand what they were saying. Approximately 1500 Boontling terms were created.

Boontling spread through Anderson Valley like wildfire though its use began to decline around the time of World War I.  We were really hoping to hear people actually speaking Bootling; its near-complete demise in daily use is a revelation to us upon our arrival in the valley. We will have to settle for reading about it. It seems that Anderson Valley Brewing’s use of it has helped to spark national interest in Boontling, so I do hope that locals are able revive the colorful dialect.

Boontling Language Boonville dialect Anderson Valley jargon historic plaque

A few of my personal favorite Boontling words and phrases are:

  • applehead – a young girl; girlfriend or wife
  • back-dated chuck – a person who is ignorant or behind the times
  • bahl hornin’ – good drinking
  • Barney Flats – Hendy Woods National Forest, a spectacular forest of virgin redwoods located in Anderson Valley
  • brightlighter – a city dweller, tourist
  • briny – the coast
  • bucky walter – a pay phone. Derived from a pay phone’s call cost of a nickel (“bucky”) at the time + telephone (“walter”, because Walter Levi was the first person in town to have a phone installed)
  • codgyhood – old age
  • deepend – town of Navarro, at the ‘deep end’ of the valley near the Pacific coast
  • Ee-tah – an exclamation: considered a version of the old rebel yell that went into many Civil War battles. Many Boonters were originally from the South and made no secret of their rebel sympathies
  • fair and right a person – one who would give or lend money
  • glow worm – a lantern
  • haireem – a dog (from “hairy mouth”, since Airedale Terriers were popular in Anderson Valley)
  • high pockets – a person of wealth: the wealthiest man in the area was six feet six inches tall
  • Jenny Beck – a tattletale; a stool pigeon: Jenny Beck was a local gossiper and told many tall-tales
  • kimmie – a man: a father, or sometimes applied to a stranger (from “Come here, you”)
  • Mason Dixon – division between the towns of Boonville and Philo: In the early days a feud almost existed between the two communities (Like “ee-tah”, another throwback to Anderson Valley settlers’ southern roots)
  • old dusties – hell
  • pack-em-out-billies – dirty socks
  • sharkin’ or sharkin’ match – fighting; also used to describe Boontlingers attempting to out-do each other by coming up with a new word

Buckey Walter (phone booth in Boontling) at the Anderson Valley Historical Society museum in Boonville, California

Exhibit at the Anderson Valley Historical Society museum in Boonville, California

Anderson Valley Wineries

We are typically beer drinkers rather than wine drinkers, however a visit to Anderson Valley may just inspire me to reverse that order. Although we do not visit any of the valley’s wineries during our brief 48 hrs in Mendocino County, we will definitely be back one day to do so. Autumn is a splendid time to visit the valley. Ah the golden grasses, trees, and grape vines…

The tasting room at Greenwood Ridge Vineyards, pictured below, is an example of  the region’s “deep-end“(see Boontling translation above) architecture, and was built from a single fallen redwood trunk.

Example of deep end architecture at the Greenwood Ridge Vineyard in Anderson Valley, California

Autumn pastoral scene - Anderson Valley, California Vineyards and Wineries

Maple Creek Winery in Anderson Valley, California

Anderson Valley winery, California

Two days in Mendocino County are not nearly enough for me. Arguably one of the prettiest places in the U.S., a visit to this heavenly county on the California coast just may have you longing to give up city life and live out your days in the country. If I ever become weary of wandering, you may just find this brightlighter putting down roots here.

Next up: the dreamy village of Mendocino!


18 Replies to “Bahl Hornin’ (Good drinking) in Anderson Valley, California”

    1. I love “applehead” too! It’s my nickname for my sweet dog Juniper because everyone falls in love with her. Thanks for reading, I’m so glad you enjoyed our little trip to Anderson Valley 🙂


      1. Thank you, Cathy! We named her Juniper because I love the scent of Juniper trees, and as she is a one-in-a-million dog, I wanted her to have a unique name. However, what’s funny is that when I’m in New Mexico (Santa Fe in particular) Juniper trees are everywhere so it probably seems like a mundane and odd name choice to many westerners! If we end up moving out to NM, perhaps I should rename her Poplar, Oak, or Maple 😉


      2. That is so cool, Marsi, how you came up with her “unusual” name, which may not be so unusual if you move to NM. 🙂 On my trip to the Four Corners last year, I fell in love with the gnarled juniper trees.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. High pockets is a good one, isn’t it?! My husband and I were saying that we should try to revive some of these colorful phrases by using them in our daily language. Though no one in the south would have a clue as to the origin, which is funny because many of the early Anderson Valley settlers were from the south. Full circle!

      Liked by 1 person

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