California is home to over a dozen different wine appellations around the state. You, of course, have heard of Napa, Sonoma, and Paso Robles but for many of us locals we prefer to do our wine tasting in some of our smaller and lesser known regions. You get all the quality and often better service without the tourism tax.
A well-kept secret
One of my favorite smaller wine regions is Clarksburg, just 20 minutes south of Sacramento right on the Delta. The region has over 7,000 acres of vines and grows over 30 different varietals. You will often find other California wine regions buying grapes from the region since they can grow varietals that Napa or Sonoma cannot.
The region has been producing since the late 1800s and has over a dozen wineries and tasting rooms. On top of this many have free tasting and at the most you will pay $5 for a thorough tasting.
Right on the Sacramento river and its canals, you will find views as breathtaking as any other wine region.
A Day of Tasting
The region has two distinct options for tasting. Either visit individual wineries or stop by the Old Sugar Mill which is home to ten different wineries.
Bogle is the region’s largest producer and you can find their wines in retailers all around the country. In my opinion, they have the best wine you can find for the price point, with almost every bottle under $20 and a few under $10. My favorite include the Sauvignon Blanc and Petite Syrah Nouveau.
They offer a free tasting which you will find either up in their beautiful tasting room or on a nice day down in their barrel room. Also, they have an amazing property to sit and enjoy the outdoors. Whether you are just having a glass or sharing a couple bottles over a picnic with friends this is the perfect places to relax outside on a nice day.
You’ll often find families hanging out as their kids run around the yard. Or a private party celebrating a birthday or engagement.
The Bogle winery is frequented by regulars and wine club members, and perfect for either one of many stops or to spend your entire afternoon.
Scribner Bend Winery
Another prime spot in the Clarksburg region is Scribner Bend, a family owned property that is perfect for a nice afternoon or even a wedding. On the weekends, you will often find the two owners helping out in the tasting rooms, much more interested in making friends then selling you wine.
From their light whites to their almond sparkling and sweet dessert wines they have a little bit for everyone. Most recently I visited with my mom who has a very different pallet than I do. We were able to find wines each of us liked and even a few we both loved. Their late harvest chardonnay is a unique dessert wine that you can actually turn into a great dessert.
The property has a great patio and the vines wrap right around the tasting room so you feel like you’re a part of the vineyard.
The Old Sugar Mill
The Old Sugar Mill is a perfect place to go enjoy a handful of wineries all in one spot. It is especially perfect for a gloomy day or one that is a little too hot to relax outside. The property was built in the 1930s as a sugar mill. The mill closed in the late 1980s and it was later renovated to house both tasting rooms and winemaking space for local Clarksburg winemakers.
he property is beautiful with a rustic feel but modern additions, including the exposed structure. One of my favorite weddings I’ve attended was held here.
The wineries themselves range from amazing, to good but overpriced. All of them are worth stopping by for a tasting, but my favorites are Heringer Estates and Carvalho Family Winery. It is a great way to try a little bit of everything without driving around too much.
Bring a picnic and sit outside with a bottle of wine, or often on the weekend they have food trucks and vendors stopping by.
Make sure to check their calendar before you stop by. They have a handful of events each year that are a blast, with one ticket price to try everything and additional vendors. The only downside to these events is how successful and packed they are. It is worth attending but be prepared for a bit of an overwhelming crowd.
Refueling before you head home
Whether it is before you head home or in between stops needing to refuel a great and relaxed spot by the Freeport Bar and Grill. Whether you stop by for lunch or dinner it is a perfect spot heading into the Delta.
For lunch, you will find an array of delicious sandwiches, salads, and burgers. From steak salads to tri-tip sandwiches and their burgers their beef is to die for. You can also find something a little lighter side as well.
Their back patio is perfect for relaxing a bit either with an ice tea or one of the local wines they carry. If you’re worried about missing the game during your wine tasting trip the bar also has tvs and a great atmosphere.
For dinner, they step it up and great a very elegant menu at a reasonable price. Their Linguini Portofino is full of savory seafood and a light sauce.
The Clarksburg wine region has everything you can look for without the steep price tag. Plus it is only 30 minutes from a major airport, unlike California’s other wine regions.
Whether you are looking for a day trip from Sacramento or traveling through Northern California, the Clarksburg region is worth putting on your itinerary.