Fall is harvest time for Sierra foothills wine all across California. A special time of year with good reason to celebrate. And, it’s a great way to commemorate an anniversary, a birthday, or even just plan a romantic getaway by doing some wine tasting in the High Sierra.
The worst part of wine tasting is typically you need to drive from winery to winery. Well, Main Street in Mariposa makes that problem disappear. It offers you the opportunity to taste locally produced wine AND olive oil, visit art galleries, and grab a bite to eat at one of the many fine dining establishments featuring fresh and local fare. If that wasn’t enough, you can also explore the grounds of the OLDEST operating courthouse west of the Rockies – the Mariposa County Courthouse. Still not enough? Then be sure to visit on the last weekend in September for the CoyoteFest. This old-time affair offers you a chance to see the nationally acclaimed Coyote Howl.
The Historic town of Truckee California is a special place. A mountain town that is one-of-a kind. Nestled a short jaunt over the hill from the shores of Lake Tahoe, this former logging town has come into its own when you talk about mountain fun. Truckee is the perfect base camp from golfing to skiing and everything in between including amazing wine tasting opportunities.
Branded as the highest & coldest winery, the Truckee River Winery established in 1989 uses the elevation and weather to create an assortment of flavorful wines. Pinot Gris is their specialty. For those yearning to explore a wide variety of wines, head to the Pour House located in downtown Truckee. Every third Thursday, they host a tasting from 5-7 pm with a sampling of wine and a variety of items like cheese, crackers, chocolate & nuts. Wine enthusiasts will also like Uncorked Truckee. A cozy spot offering a wide selection of wines, amazing cheeses, and charcuterie.
While most towns in the Sierra Nevada link their history to the Gold Rush, this one is related to a different one – Copper. Hence the name Copperopolis. While the mining boom of copper in the 1800’s has waned, it still embraces its proud heritage and way of life. Inside the picturesque Square at Copper Valley, you can enjoy wine tasting from over 100 local wineries at the Tipsy Frog. If that isn’t enough, from here you can venture out and explore all the Calaveras Wineries that dot the county.
Yes. The classic wine destinations are amazing. But we’ll let you in on the best kept secret in the state – the Madera Wine Trail. It’s not just one of the oldest grape growing regions in the state. It’s one of the oldest in all of America! Due to its microclimate, this region is known for producing award-winning port and dessert wines, such as the Old Vine Tinta Port from Ficklin Vineyards. That’s not all either. Due to the varied soil types in the county, it’s helped Pagani Wines be one of the most award-winning wineries in the state. And many new, small wineries have joined them along the Madera Wine Trail, adding to the wonders of this region.
Although not a wine growing region in the Golden State, downtown Visalia is a must for wine lovers. What it is home to is being the most productive agricultural region in the world. This translates to an incredible culinary arts scene. And you know what they say… nothing goes better with great food than great wine. A perfect example of this is Vintage Press Restaurant. The Wine Spectator magazine has stated that the VP (as locals call it) has “one of the best wine lists in the world.” This is in addition to a variety of other noteworthy wine bars and restaurants you’ll need to experience in person.
Are you a film fanatic? Then Jamestown should be on your MUST DO list as part of your wine tasting getaway. Just a three-minute drive from downtown Jamestown is the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Known as the “movie railroad”, it’s been featured in over 300 films such as “High Noon” & “Back to the Future Part 3.” After a fun day of reliving your favorite film scenes, finish the day off exploring the varietals from this part of California at Inner Sanctum Cellars located just outside of Columbia. For more wine tasting adventures, Arthur Michael Vineyards and Winery is in Jamestown proper while Gianelli Vineyards is just outside of town in the foothills in the actual vineyard. Not enough “Hollywood” fun? You can combine both your fantasies from “Unforgiven” and wine tasting. The Depot at Hurst Ranch which was in the film now includes a wine tasting room AND gift shop.
While many other places exist to explore your palette of the grape kind, there’s something special about experiencing it in the High Sierra. Maybe it’s the cool mountain air or the relaxed state of mind. But no matter what, wine tasting in the High Sierra is unlike anywhere else.
Author: Alex Silgalis
Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at https://localfreshies.com
Stay Up to Date
Join our mailing list for updates on hidden gems, events, and more from California's High Sierra.