Murphys is located in the central Sierra Nevada foothills between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park, in Calaveras County, California. Located at approximately the 2,000-foot elevation level, Murphys is above the central valley fog, yet generally below the snowline.
It was a sunny but chilly afternoon the day after Christmas, the perfect kind of weather to go wine tasting in the Sierra Foothills. Snow covered the nearby hill tops, the air was fresh and brisk and post-holiday shoppers were busy in town bustling about the quaint little shops in the town of Murphys. In addition to restaurants, shops, and antique stores the town is now home to numerous winery tasting rooms.
A freind and I, a local pastor who first introduced me to wine when we were in seminary, visited two tasting wineries that day.
Lavender Ridge Vineyards
Our first stop was at Lavender Ridge Vineyards. Lavender Ridge specializes in Rhone varietals and produces unfiltered wines in including Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache, Rose, Grenache, Carignane, Mourvedre, and Syrah. They also sell a number of lavender products which unfortunately seem to compete with the aromas of the wine in the tasting room.
We tasted 2006 Cotes du Calaveras which is a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, and Grenache, ($18), as well as the 2006 Grenache ($24), the 2006 Mourvedre ($26), the 2006 Syrah ($30), a lovely and fair priced 2007 Grenache Rose ($15) which a really fresh bouquet of strawberries and cranberries. The 2007 Viognier ($22) was also quite nice and the Vin Doux Dessert Wine ($18) was a pleasant mouth full of honeysuckle and caramelized pears.
Our second stop for the day was at Stevenot Winery. Established in 1973, the winery is a number of nice wines from Chardonnay and Orange Muscat to Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot. But their best wine is without a doubt their Reserve Tempranillo.
They have a tasting room on the corner of Sheep Ranch Road and Main Street in Murphys but I reccomend visiting the tasting room at their historic winery, located in the 1870 Shaw Ranch house at 2690 San Domingo Road, four miles from Main Street off Sheep Ranch Road. They are open 7 days a week from 11a.m. to 5 p.m at can be contacted at: (209) 728-0638.