When I last visited, which could have been a decade ago, it was a laid-back Gold Rush town Americans went to see for its historic appeal. Today it's a chic, boutique-filled destination site, much frequented by European tourists, as well as Americans, who delight in strolling through its tiny, family-owned winery tasting rooms, clothing shops, and art galleries.
|The shop is filled with lavender, as well as|
an excellent assortment of cheese, in addition
to their lovely wines
|Gwendolyn Alley tasting at Lavender |
Ridge with our tasting room host
The 2013 Cotes du Calaveras (Rouge) ($24) is a beautiful wine, translucent and light in weight, as it's a Grenache-based blend. (The exact blend is 42% Grenache, 29% Syrah and 29% Mourvedre). It boasts tart cherries notes, which our tasting room server told us are unique to this region. (Cases made: 285.) Gilpin uses native yeast on all the wines.
The wine was paired with a delicious Black Diamond Old Cheddar from Canada topped with a sour cherry compote made from Armenian cherries. Our server told us the sour cherry was selected because it paired well with the tart cherries in the wine - and it did. The lightness of the wine was also a perfect complement to the richness of this creamy cheese, a cheese I was happy to discover. (I left with two jars of the compote).
|On weekends, the winery can get a lot busier |
and opens a back room for flights.
|The back wall of the tasting room is filled with lavender bunches.|
|A most elegant dump bucket|
We also visited Ironstone Winery, with its unique historic attraction (hint, hint). And I tasted at a little winery down the street that makes an organically Zinfandel. More on that later.