Calaveras Wine Country calls wine columnist Modesto

The Navigator found a perfect wine country rental in 2019 with a view of Murphys. With over half a dozen excellent restaurants and two dozen tasting rooms, it was easy to find other couples to share the rental. Telling them we had to cancel was not. The stay-at-home edict was in force. What a desappointment ! Almost two years later, we finally arrived at Murphys between the December storms for an overnight stay at the lovely Victoria Inn.

Our first stop was Prospect 772, just off Highway 4. We met owner and winemaker Ron Pieretti and sampled his award-winning Syrah blends. If you like bold reds with aging potential, the Prospect 772 is a must stop. I tasted an aged 2009 and thought Wow! Yes, Prospect 772 is now in my cellar.

We met Matt Hatcher at his cellar in Vallecito, where he makes Hatcher and School Street wines. The Hatcher label produces more than 15 red grape varieties, including Cinsault, Grenache, Malbec and Mourvèdre. Shake Ridge’s Reserve Barbera, Calaveras Tempranillo, and Cinsault Rose were top of my list. Add seven white wines and you have 24 moderately priced wines to taste here or in their Murphys tasting room. We took Matt’s advice and had a great dinner at the Gold Leaf Bistro at Ironstone Winery.

On Monday, we met four winegrowers for breakfast at the Hotel Murphys. They were Scott Klann from Newsome Harlow, Stuart Mast from Brice Station, Ron Pieretti from Prospect 772 and Nathan Vader from Vida Moda. All expressed that winemaking was not their first choice, but something they migrated to and fell in love with after falling in love. They explained the adjustments they had to make for COVID. One positive effect was to require reservations. This allows for a more relaxed pace. Having tasters seated at the table also creates more contact with consumers. They offered tips to help visitors enjoy their tasting experience. For example, be attentive and courteous in making room for others. The host will see when your glass is empty, so no need to wave your hand, glass or snap your fingers. Also, try to visit on weekdays but always call for reservations. Plan your day, include a lunch, stay hydrated, always have a designated driver, and enjoy the Calaveras County wine country.

Calaveras gold

The gold medal winners of the prestigious 2021 SF Chronicle Wine competition were: Calaveras 2018 from Aloria Vineyard, Double Gold and Divinity Calaveras 2018; the Amador Zinfandel 2017 from Black Sheep Winery and the Zinfandel Calaveras 2017; the 2019 Lodi Merlot from Ironstone Vineyard and the 2019 Obsession Symphony; Calaveras Merlot 2018 from Milliaire Winery; Calaveras Petite Sirah 2016 from Val du Vino Winery; the Payaso 2018 from Villa Vallecito Vineyard, the Barbera 2017 and the Sagrantino 2018; Vina Moda’s 2018 Sierra Foothills Merlot. Cheers!

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