Monday, May 25, 2009

Twisted Times in Calaveras

Because it was Memorial Day weekend, and because we bought a new car, and because it was 55-degrees in San Francisco, we headed to Calaveras County to check out the wine scene there. Aaron has been a fan of Twisted Oak for some years and we figured there might be some interesting things happening in this gold miner town 2-hours east of the City.

aaron pours for all

The drive was easy and the weather got nice once we got the the vast Central Valley. By the time we pulled up to Twisted Oak in Vallecitos it was a perfect 83-degrees. This is an impressive site for a winery. And not in the gaudy Napa mansion way. The have a rustic main building with a large tasting room and a few other winery buildings and sheds. This place is all about having fun. Their humor is endless. Everywhere you turn is a funny sign or a rubber chicken in a tree. Wacky. At first it seemed geeky; but by the time I left I was a believer. Note: nothing succeeds like excess.
the wackiness infects these two

We enjoyed a perfect picnic lunch and a bottle of their Rueben's Blend. A nice Rhone white that needed a bit more chill. Hand made salumi, stinky cheeses and artisan breads made for a memorable meal amongst the oaks and pines.

Next came the tasting. No fee and they poured about a thousand wines (or 10+). Nothing was too far off the mark. They lean towards Italians and Rhones. They aren't trying to make wines that don't work up there. And they price their wines in that sweet 15-25 buck range. The standouts are the Rhone White Blend, the Spaniard and the Pig Stai. We didn't go away empty handed.

deux twisted shoppers

We next traveled to Murphys. A touristy town that is worth the stop. "Quaint" doesn't say enough. It's well kept and full of wineries, cafes and shops that you actually want to go into. We stopped into Hatcher, Tanner and Newsome-Harlow. The tasting rooms are all nice and comfortable. They cater to the visitors, casual drinkers and old ladies with the tackiest t-shirts you have ever seen. We felt all these wineries are working hard to make solid wines. Nothing is more than $30. Most have a rose or a white in the sub-$15 range. It's much different tasting here than Napa/Sonoma. There isn't that high-end biased and there also isn't much swill either.
murphys - chicken in a barrel

A nice dinner was had and a long sleepy drive back to the wall of fog.

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