In the seven years of writing this column, I have witnessed an amazing increase in the number of wine-tasting rooms springing up. I’ve written about the urban wine trail in Santa Barbara, the Surf City winemakers of Santa Cruz, the nearly two dozen tasting rooms in Murphys and the easy strolls through towns like Paso Robles, Lodi, Sonoma and Carmel. Here’s another one to add to the list: Sutter Creek.
Wine walks make sense. Park your car, stroll, taste, stroll, shop, stroll, taste, have a late lunch, stroll a bit more to work off lunch, taste, find a park bench to relax or snooze and slow down life’s tempo. The Mother Lode town of Sutter Creek is perfect for this. There are plenty of art galleries, antiques, boutiques, restaurants, charming inns and now eight tasting rooms. A few years ago Highway 49 bypassed the town, which alleviated much noise and traffic. After you park your car and begin your walk, you actually feel like you’ve slipped back in time.
Most tasting rooms open at 11 a.m. Thursdays through Sundays and close at 5:30 p.m. All charge a modest tasting fee, which is refunded with a wine purchase. The Navigator and I tasted at Yorba Wines, BellaGrace Vineyards and Scott Harvey Wines. The wines were excellent, reflecting the Sierra foothills region. If you are a zinfandel/barbera/sangiovese fanatic or dig the Rhone-style varietals, you will definitely enjoy Sutter Creek. If you go on Fridays you also can taste at the Amador Distillery from 4 to 7 p.m. For more information, go to www.wineonmain.com.
What’s on our table
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Rosé season in our home starts at Easter and ends at Thanksgiving. I’m not talking about those super-sweet white zins, the wine that has a Robitussin texture that brings on a smacking sound to help you gag it down. If you’re into those wines, it’s OK. (Remember, drink what you like.) But I prefer a well-chilled, bone-dry rosé. It’s the perfect wine for those warm (hot) summer evenings and pairs well with all types of food. The 2013 vintage has been released and those are what you should be looking for.
O’brien’s Market seems to have the best selection and the Tolosa Rosé of Pinot Noir ($11.99) is outstanding. The Domaine de la Fourquette Rosee d’Aurore ($12.99) from Costco clearly defines the French rosé style.
BevMo carries the multiple-award-winning Pedroncelli Dry Rosé of Zinfandel ($12.99) and the steal of the day was the La Vieille Ferme at World Market ($5.99). My two favorite rosés from Trader Joe’s were 2012’s (bummer) so I picked up a non-vintage Incanto Rosé Vino Frizzante, a fun spritzy rosato ($5.99). If you have a favorite rosé, let me know. Drink pink, cheers!