Calaveras County is nestled in the heart of the Sierra Foothills AVA, and home to wineries big and small. They offer a unique, home-grown feel to their wineries with down-to-earth people and obvious farming roots. They maintain their 19th-century charm, including the historic Murphy's Hotel, which once hosted Mark Twain. Just 2.5 hours outside of San Francisco, Calaveras is a wonderful escape from the city and showcases a whole other part of California. Below are some of the amazing places I visited during my day trip to Murphys this past weekend.
Ironstone is by far one of the larger wineries in the area. They have everything you could imagine -- and then some! They're home to a fourth-generation family of growers, a beautiful concert and wedding venue, a delicious restaurant, beautiful vineyards, stunning man-made wine caves, and even a vintage store that hosts the Kautz gold specimen... the largest single piece of gold mined in North America since the 1880's. It was certainly a treat to visit!
I highly recommend starting your day here with brunch and mimosas, then following up with a tasting of their delicious wines. I had an amazing panini that I'll be dreaming about for a long time to come followed by a beautiful strawberry & cream dessert.
Make sure you leave time to tour here and either wander around on your own, or set up one of their Elevated Experiences to get the full run-down of all they have to offer.
Frog's Tooth Vineyards
Mark Twain gave Calaveras County its claim to fame with his bestselling story “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", inspiring this winery to try to incorporate that claim to fame in their own name. Frog's Tooth Vineyards hand-crafts amazing, small-lot wines that are constantly winning different awards. Their winemaker, Will SavoieHoule brings a youthful passion to crafting beautiful, terroir-driven wines. During your visit, you can either sit inside at the tasting room, or enjoy the sun-filled outdoor patio.
Bonus: As a Vinely member, you receive free tastings at this winery.
Pro Tip: I'm a huge fan of their Petite Syrah (light and fruity but enough depth to keep things interesting) and their Rosé (it's fermented with a natural yeast and is a combination of 8 different varietals!)
Producing hand-crafted wines from their estate vineyards, Locke is a lovely winery to include in your visit. They host tastings in their rustic-chic barn surrounded by gardens and vineyards; to further the winery's charm, they also grow lavender and you can find it gracefully decorating the inside of the tasting room barn. Locke has been in business since the 1920s and has perfected the winemaking process. It's apparent that owner Kevin Locke, pours his heart and passion into the wine; Kevin himself manages the vineyards and works with Matt Hatcher to produce stunning wines at a great value. I'm personally a huge fan of their Sequoia (Zinfandel/Cabernet) blend.
After finishing up tasting, there's a ton of restaurants to choose from downtown. We visited Grounds and it certainly lived up to its hype! Their brussel sprouts were amazing, and they have an extensive menu to choose from.
There's also a ton of shopping downtown, as well as 18 different winery tasting rooms, so I highly recommend giving their Main Street a venture.