Friday, July 10, 2020

The Sights and Sips of Motherlode Country: Motor Touring and Wine Tasting in the Sierra Foothills

(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed)  We've got a lazy day to kill before we drive back home. Waking up in our room in the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort in the mountains just east of the town of the same name, we make our way over the the Casino diner, Margaret's Cafe.

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The restaurant is named after the member of the Mi Wok tribe here who was the driving force into developing this resort. The walls are lined with pictures of her.

After trying the buffet, we found that the best food is served here...not the buffet. And, yes, that is bacon covered pork chops just above.

Hunger sated, we head out on the road. Just a bit east up the road, we find this castle-like house that has it's own amusement park out front. No, Michael Jackson did not rise from the dead but an eccentric local millionaire, John Hertzig, built this for his own amusement.

Over the hill to the north is Shenandoah Valley, just full of great wineries with vines dating back to the Gold Rush. We've been here many, many times and today want to try a couple of new wineries.

First up is Dobra Zimlja on the far eastern end of Steiner Road. Using local grapes they make big, heavy wines in the Croatian style of its immigrant owner Milan Matulich.

The tasting room sits inside of a wine cave dug into the hill. The friendly server pours us a rose that looks black in the bottle, "it lightens up in the glass when I pour it," she says when I ask why they call it a rose.

It does lighten up a bit to a dark purple but it is a lighter tasting rose.

Tasting is $5 but we buy a few bottles so the fee is waved. We spend a few moments at their pond (pictured at the top of this post) before moving on.

Next door is the Charles Spinetta Winery.  In a more utilitarian cinder block setting, Spinetta pours deep reds and sweet wines surrounded by artworks of nature.

The sparkling rose and chenin blanc is on sale so we buy a case of that.

Last, we stop at Story Wine where we always try to have a picnic when we're up here.

The prices here have made a steep climb so we just buy a cold bottle of rose to wash down the sandwiches we picked up at the casino before we left.

It's been a whirlwind week and a half between here and Placerville, so we just spend our last evening chilling in the hotel room, snacking with one of the bottles we bought and just relaxing. 

Tomorrow is a long drive home.

Darryl Musick
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