Play & Shop: The Clarksburg AVA encompasses three counties – Sacramento, Yolo and Solano. Known for Chenin Blanc and Petite Sirah, there are over 7,000 acres planted. It’s interesting that 90% of the grapes are crushed at facilities outside the area, so you won’t find much wine with Clarksburg on the label.
The Old Sugar Mill was brought piece by piece by railway to Clarksburg from Utah in 1935 and operated until 1993. Reopened in 2003, it’s now a fun place to taste wine.
Having restored most of the original mill, each interior space – converted into tasting rooms – has maintained its historic character. Exposed beams, pipes and bricks, high ceilings, lots of wood (including wine barrels) and an easy going vibe combine to make it a great destination. With ten wineries, you’ll rarely be with out a choice of where to go next, including by the river with wine and picnic in hand.
Rendez-vous Winery is one of the few to use grapes exclusively from the Clarksburg AVA in their small lot hand-crafted wines. The tasting room and bistro (due to open in August) occupy the airy space at the front of the building with outside seating. It’s an upbeat environment to taste some fun wines like the 2011 Primitivo, the 2011 Petite Sirah and the 2013 Moscato.
The spacious tasting room at Clarksburg Wine Company has tables and chairs in addition to a bar so you can settle in and enjoy. They also have a crush facility on site. Their grapes are 100% Clarksburg. Try the 2011 Chenin Blanc Viognier with beautiful fruits. The velvety 2012 Pinot Noir has a vibrant violet color. And the 2011 Remenance is a rich blend of Merlot, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc and Petite Sirah.
Since its beginning in 1868, the sixth generation of the family now does the farming at Heringer Estates. Their passion for the delta farm is evident in their appealing wines and their commitment to their community (some proceeds from wine sales go to the local library and other area nonprofits). Try these robust reds: 2010 Purple Thread (a blend of Petite Sirah, Teroldego, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo) and the 2009 Teroldego.
Carrying traditions from their native Portugal, the Carvalho Family Winery uses nearly 80% of grapes grown in Clarksburg for their artisanal wines. The Boat Shed Red Lot 4 Reserve is a wonderful blend of Tempranillo, Petite Sirah and old vine Zin. Don’t miss these Ports: Alasandra’s Sweet Red Ruby and the Five Barrel Tawny.
With more than 30 years in the business, Matt Cline is at the helm of Three Wine Company. The two labels, S3x and Three Wine, together comprise over 16,000 cases. He focuses more on old vines from Oakley, CA, but does blend Pinot Gris from Clarksburg with Riesling and Chardonnay for the 2012 Escapade. The rich and fruity old vine 2011 Field Blend combines Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mataro, Zinfandel, Alicante Boushcet and Black Malvoise.
The Merlo Family grows their grapes in the Hyampom Valley, along the banks of the South Fork of the Trinity River and the South Fork Mountains. Their estate produces bold wines that aren’t high in alcohol. Favorites include the 2007 Syrah, the 2009 Zinfandel and the 2009 Blackbird (a Syrah and Zinfandel blend).
Find shopping at each of the tasting rooms – wines and artisanal products. And explore the Farm Trail along the river with acres of fruits and vegetables in addition to wineries. In downtown Sacramento, Midtown is a unique shopping area.
OTHER ESSENTIALS: The Clarksburg Wine Growers & Vintners Association; Sacramento Tourism
PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb