Laid Back Wine Country: Calaveras County

 

We couldn’t let California Wine Month slip by without bragging about all the awesome wineries we have here in Calaveras—32 with tasting rooms to be exact. And just to prove they’re ALL great, we’ve got the full list below, along with a reason why you must visit every last one of them. That’s going to call for a lot of visits! Here we go…

Allegorie Wines – Part tasting room, part art gallery, Allegorie is home to the most unique tasting bar you’ll ever come across (but we’re not ruining the surprise here). Look for their regular events ranging from masquerade balls to concerts and gallery nights.

Ayrael Vieux Winery – If you want to see a boutique winery inside and out, walk through its vineyards and chat one-on-one with the winemaker for an hour, you’ll get that here. Tasting notes: Try the Montepulciano.

Black Sheep Winery – When Napa was hitting its stride in the 80’s, Black Sheep was coming into its own right here in Calaveras. But along the way they’ve kept it lighthearted and if you want your very own frog souvenir that you can also drink, you can go home with their True Frogs Lily Pad Collection. Ribbit!

Bodega del Sur Winery – Bodega del Sur brings a little bit of Spain and South America to the Sierra Foothills and offers varietals reminiscent of these regions. They’ve also taken it one step further by helping to spearhead an annual Day of the Dead or “Dia del Muertos” celebration in Murphys that’s not to miss.

Boyle MacDonald Wines – A Napa Cab in Calaveras, oh my! But yes, if you’re on the hunt for the real thing, you’ll want to hunt down a bottle of Boyle MacDonald Cabernet Sauvignon. Insider scoop: The winemaker is usually found behind the counter of Ayrael Vieux winery, where she also pours her own label.

Brice Station Vineyards – What would wines from the highest vineyard in the Sierra Nevada taste like? Brice Station is where you would go to find out. It’s worth the trip just past Murphys for a chance to slip into the past at its historic property.

Broll Mountain Vineyards – Looking for wines with a little age behind them? Broll Mountain is where you can get your hands on some older vintages like their 2006 Syrah

Chatom Winery – Planning a picnic? Chatom’s beautiful grounds and picnic tables are ideal for a leisurely lunch with wine and friends. Buy a bottle and unwind for awhile.

Chiarella Wines – As its name implies, Italian varietals rule at Chiarella’s cozy Main Street tasting room.

Domaine Becquet Winery – If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you won’t want to miss the multiple dessert wines from Domaine Becquet, including their infamous chocolate port.

Frog’s Tooth Vineyard – If you’re a Torrontes fan, you’ll find it at Frog’s Tooth. Also, the live music they often have on the weekends will entice you in from the street.

Hatcher Winery – You’ll have to taste for yourself to figure out why Hatcher has a cult following of sorts. Their cellar-esque tasting room beneath Main Street is usually packed to the brim with happy people.

Hovey Winery – Winemaker Chuck Hovey is the godfather of Tempranillo (at least that’s what we think about him around here). Finally, he’s got a tasting room on Main Street to show off his talents.

Indian Rock Vineyards – Set alongside a charming little pond, you’ll find Indian Rock, a family-friendly stop just outside of Murphys. Insider scoop: The BBQ is fired up every Saturday and you never know what’s cooking.

Irish Vineyards – It doesn’t get more unpretentious than Irish Vineyards. And there always seems to be a good party on the horizon too. Tasting notes: If you like blends, they’ve got quite the selection.

Ironstone Vineyards – If there was one winery in Calaveras County we called “the mothership,” Ironstone would be it. From its popular Summer Concert Series and glorious grounds to its museum and massive tasting room, Ironstone is a Murphys icon. And don’t miss the gold nugget—the world’s largest piece of crystalline gold!

Laraine Winery – If you want the idyllic winery experience, complete with stunning views of rolling vineyards, Laraine has got it. A popular place for picnics and weddings.

Lavender Ridge Vineyards – The wines are worth the stop, but it’s their in-house cheese shop managed by “The Calaveras Cheeselady” that will leave you drooling. Lavender Ridge has daily wine and cheese pairings. Just try leaving without a hunk of the featured cheese and their suggested wine.

La Folia Wine – Barbera fans be warned, La Folia strives to produce authentic Italian wines and doesn’t disappoint with this fussy varietal.

Metate Hill Vineyard – It’s not just the varietals like Graciano, Albarino and Monastrell that evoke Spain, it’s the flavors of Metate’s wines. Here, you truly leave California behind and head to España!

Milliaire Winery – Three words: Old Vine Zinfandel. Milliaire’s Ghirardelli Zinfandel comes from vines more than 110-years-old. Yup, get yourself in your car, right now.

Newsome-Harlow Wines – Giant couch and fire pit. Need we say more? Not only does Newsome-Harlow have a selection of Zins that will blow your mind, but their Main Street tasting room and patio may be the best all around hang out for those leisurely tasting occasions.

Prospect 772 Wines – Off the beaten path and only open for tasting on Saturdays, Prospect 772 is worth the trek. You’ll be sucked in by the The Brat, The Brawler, and the winery’s bocce ball court.

Renegade Winery – Finally, a tasting room in the charming town of Mokelumne Hill. And is it really true? Tastings here are free.

Renner Winery – You’ll feel at home in Renner Winery’s tasting room on Main Street—a charming historic house, complete with fireplace for those chilly winter days. Tasting notes: Try the Canterbury Syrah.

Stevenot Winery – Another long-time name on the scene, Stevenot wines recently welcomed back past winemaker Chuck Hovey (it’s that godfather guy we mentioned above…he’s got deep roots in Calaveras County). Stevenot’s Gran Reserva label is the best of the best of the winery’s offerings.

Tanner Vineyards – A true family affair, Tanner Vineyards is steeped in local history. You’ll likely find multiple generations behind the tasting bar, pouring unique wines and relaying stories of the past.

Twisted Oak Winery – Home to the only Rubber Chicken National Forest in the world, Twisted Oak Winery is more than good wine, its good entertainment. Where else can you pick up a bottle of “Potty-Mouth Red?” (That’s not its real name by the way, just the PG version…)

Val du Vino Winery – The only working winery on Main Street in Murphys, Val du Vino also has one very cool tasting room (you’ll want the tasting bar in your house). Tasting note: Try the Viognier.

Villa Vallecito Vineyards – Kick back on Villa Vallecito’s Terazza (outdoor patio) with a lovely glass of Barbera, the winery’s signature wine. You might just forget to leave.

Vina Moda Winery – It may be housed in one of the oldest buildings in Murphys, but when you step inside it’s nothing but stylish. If you’re lucky enough to try the Viognier (their wines tend to go fast), you won’t be disappointed.

Zucca Wines – Ask around about dessert wines and you’ll likely be told, “You have to try Zucca’s Syrah Port.” Add to that, a one-of-a-kind underground wine cellar tasting room and you’re in for a real treat. Watch your head!

There is something for everyone when it comes to wine in Calaveras. There’s only one thing missing—attitude. So if you like to discover good wine in a low-key setting, often with the winemaker or owners themselves, put Calaveras Wine Country on your must-go list.

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