Play & Shop: The Mother Lode has terrific golf experiences (as told to me by my husband). First up was a round at Saddle Creek Resort. This course is big and bold, from the first tee to the 18th green. Designed by Carter Morrish, the course features breathtaking views and elevation changes that make every shot memorable. The championship layout measures just over 6,800 yards, but players have a wide variety of tees to choose from. At any distance, Saddle Creek is enjoyable for every skill level.
The links at Greenhorn Creek Resort were designed by noted architect Robert Trent Jones II. Find imaginative bunkering; well placed water hazards; rock outcroppings; strategic doglegs and fabulous undulation. The course plays to a variety of yardages from five different sets of tees. Pick your personal sweet spot between the short tees (4,882 yards) and those designed for low handicappers (6,749 yards) and swing away. It’s fun and challenging, which is all a golfer can ask for.
Calaveras County, in the heart of the Sierra Foothills AVA, has vines dating to the mid-1800s. The wines reflect the warm summer days and cool nights. We started our wine tasting adventure along the tree-lined Main Street of eclectic Murphys, dubbed the Queen of the Sierra. A trading post was first established here during the height of the gold rush. Today, historic buildings with stone walls, iron shutters, picket fences and beautiful gardens are home to creative restaurants, shops and some 20 tasting rooms. Next time, we’ll spend at least a day exploring Murphys; here’s a slice of our quick visit.
Located in a sleek new spot on Main (a fire destroyed the historic building that housed them previously), Renner delivers wines that are rich and complex. Favorites included two 2010s – the Syrah and the Canterbury Vineyards Veritas (a wonderful blend of Malbec, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and Late Harvest Syrah). And don’t miss the delicious estate grown olive oil.
Just across the street, Lavender Ridge Vineyard specializes in Rhône varietals. The tasting room is consumed with the aroma of fresh lavender as well as from culinary products and lotions. Also find a unique assortment of hand-crafted cheeses to pair with the wines. We especially liked the 2011 Roussanne and these 2010s: Mourvèdre and Syrah.
South of town, Four Winds Cellars produces distinctive wines from local estate vineyards. Discover the laid back tasting room in the middle of a stunning valley. Their 2010 Tempest is a balanced blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Petite Sirah and Petite Verdot. The flavorful 2010 Syrah is must-try.
When it’s time to take in the picturesque scenery up-close visit Calaveras Big Trees State Park with its giant sequoias, mammoth Mercer Caverns or go on a hike over the Natural Bridges by Coyote Creek. Both resorts at Saddle Creek and Greenhorn Creek offer fitness centers, pools and scenic hikes.
PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb