The 2012 grape harvest is almost finished, and the reports are all positive.
After the crush, winery activity slows, the weather cools and the vines change color. It's a perfect time to visit the wine country. One roadblock this year is the price of gas. As I write this, the price is still more than $4 a gallon. So here are four close-to-home suggestions that won't leave you running on empty.
The Vista Ranch and Cellars, Merced's own winery, keeps getting better and better. Taste its wines, order a glass of your favorite and a cheese plate, sit on the porch and watch the harvest moon rise.
On Thursday or Friday, stay for a wood-fired pizza and take home a bag of farm- fresh produce. Check them out at www.vistacellars.com. You'll be impressed.
Nov. 10 and 11 are the dates set for Madera Wine Trail's Holiday Spirit Weekend. Twelve wineries will offer special pricing, live music and local artwork. The editor and I have been fans of Quady and Ficklin Wineries for many years and the wines from CRU, Idle Hour and Fasi Estate are excellent. The $25 price is a super deal. For more information, visit www.maderawinetrail.com.
Your first stop in checking out the Mariposa wine scene should be Casto Oaks Fine Wine & Art at 5022 Highway 140 in downtown Mariposa. The winery makes hearty estate red wines from its Mount Bullion Vineyards. Its 2010 merlot was a medal winner at the recent Sunset magazine competition.
Your host (probably owner Harold Casto) can give you the lowdown on the Mariposa scene and directions to Butterfly Creek Winery, at 4063 Triangle Road. This is a beautiful setting for a winery and a perfect spot for a picnic. Butterfly Creek is open Tuesday through Sunday. If you pass on a picnic, try our favorite dining spot in Mariposa, Savoury's Restaurant.
The 31st annual Vintners' Holidays at the beautiful Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite features 32 first-class wineries in eight sessions from Nov. 4 through Dec. 6.
Each session includes four wineries presenting educational wine-tasting seminars, a meet the vintners reception and a five-course gourmet dinner with wine. You can stay at the Ahwahnee or at Yosemite Lodge. The editor and I attended in 2007 and really enjoyed the event. If I were going this year, I would probably choose session six, which features Honig, Hatcher, Twomey and Silver Oak Cellars. This is a perfect time of the year to visit Yosemite. For more details on the Vintners' Holidays, visit www.yosemitepark.com/vintners.
What's on our table
Since I selected a winery of the year (Bogle), several readers wanted to know what my favorite wine was. My stock answer is always, "The one that's open." After looking over my 15 red, five rosé and six white wine selections, I would say the Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos garnacha (Costco) was my favorite red with a close runner-up being the Cline Cashmere (Raley's). My favorite rosé was Barnard Griffin (Cost Plus) and the un-oaked Morgan Metallico (Raley's) was my top white wine. Thanks for reading Wine Line. Cheers!
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