Calaveras Wine Experiences – Part 1 of 3

Twisted Oak Winery – Vallecito

Calaveras wine experiences abound throughout our family-owned and operated wineries that welcome you with their own distinct Calaveras vibe. A down-to-earth approach that doesn’t sacrifice what the people want…good times and great wine! In this three-part series, check out what a local couple discovered right in their own backyard…

The Twisted Underground, A Rubber Chicken Forest, and a Pirate’s Booty of Really Great Wine!

What do you get when you cross a rubber chicken, some pirates, and a cave? Great wine, of course! If you are looking for an absolute kick @$$ time and some great Spanish varietals, Twisted Oak Winery brings it. Although this winery is unconventional, unorthodox, and a heck of a lot of fun, do not let that fool you. The winemaker and grower know the AVA and the wine grapes that grow best here in the Sierra Foothills. Similar to the grapes and wines you’d find in Portugal, Spain, or Italy, Twisted Oak focuses on the Mediterranean varietals that grow so well in Calaveras’ warm and mild climate. For a full wine experience, make sure to get your reservation for The Twisted Underground tour where you get to see where all the magic happens!

Displaying IMG_3427.jpg

From Highway 4, we turned right at the first entrance and drove about a half mile on a gently twisted country dirt road through a beautiful vineyard nestled in Calaveras’ golden rolling hills. Much to our surprise and delight, humorous road signs and rubber chickens entertained us all the way up to Twisted Oak’s tasting room and working winery.

All the fun began when Ryan, our human tour guide, offered our group a glass of “walking wine” (we chose the 2017 Syrah) to take with us as we headed out of the tasting room to the vista point where we soaked up views of the vineyard, sunsets, and the namesake twisted oak tree. The top of the hill is the perfect spot to take in one of Twisted Oak’s summer time concerts featuring some of the best musicians in Northern California or a gorgeous wedding with plenty of photo opportunities. Then, we started our descent to their state-of-the-art production facility. From harvest to barrel, Twisted Oak wine production uses gravity-flow (map of the gravity flow production facility) all the way down to the winery cave that maintains a year-round temperature of 68 to 70 degrees. Shade in the summer, warmth in the winter!

Down in the caves, Ryan let us do a little barrel tasting of the 2019 Touriga Nacional and 2019 Graciano – both of which are spectacular, and we cannot WAIT for these beauties to get out of the barrel and into our glasses!

Back up to the tasting room, where we enjoyed tasting Twisted Oak’s Chicken Bubbles, a 2017 Graciano, The Spaniard (a must-try for all of you Princess Bride fans), and, of course Twisted Oak’s famed Potty Mouth blend that rhymes with cluck and pairs with duck.

One of the best parts of the whole tour was our feline tour guide, Theodore, who never left our side. He didn’t say much, but was such a gracious and affectionate host.

Every June, the Twisted Few (wine club members) gather for Cave Loot which is a day of barrel tasting in the cave, yummy grub, and most important, fun!! It runs as an open house, so you can arrive any time and stay for a while. In September, celebrate crush with a winemaker’s dinner at Murphys Historic Hotel and learn cool facts, listen to great live music, and maybe taste a few of Twisted Oak’s library wines. Celebrate the Day of the Dead in November with a fabulous Winemaker Dinner, and each course is paired with an incredible Twisted Oak wine.

Getting ready for a big event? Twisted Oak has gorgeous vineyard and hilltop views for the perfect wedding day photo, or for something a little more intimate, hold your get together in the Twisted Underground!


Lavender Ridge – Calling all you cheese lovers! Lavender Ridge has specialty gourmet cheese they pair with their tastings. Lavender Ridge maintains a large selection of local and internationally renowned artisan cheeses, a specialty food market, and full lavender boutique.

Locke Vineyards – A farm garden and really great wine – Sit out on their patio in a garden setting and take in the beautiful rolling hills of Calaveras. Located just before getting into Murphys, family owned and operated Locke Vineyards is the perfect spot to start your vacation.

Stevenot Wine Lounge – Make a reservation to taste Stevenot’s premium wines in downtown Murphys or visit their vineyard and winery in Vallecito located perfectly between Murphys and Angels Camp on Highway 4. Established in 1978, Stevenot is at the forefront of the renaissance of premium wine production in Calaveras County.