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Posted September 2006

Murphys: Boutique Wine Tasting at its Best

Fall – in Love with Wine Country

(MURPHYS, CA) – Wine tasting is a pleasurable and educational experience, especially when you can taste a good number of an area’s wine wares without having to travel long distances, or in fact, even have to drive at all.

Murphys, California located in the heart of Calaveras county and part of the California Gold Country, offers just such a wine tasting experience. The opportunity becomes all the more unique when you realize that even though there are just a handful of winemakers in the area (currently about 20) they are not all devoted to experimenting with the same wine grape varietals. On Main street in Murphys, you can taste at 10 different tasting rooms:

  • Broll Mountain Vineyards (Specialties: Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Roussanne) Saturday and Sunday 1-5pm and weekdays by appointment.
  • Twisted Oak Winery (Specialties: Tempranillo, Syrah, Grenache, Viognier) Thursday through Sunday 10:30am - 5:30pm
  • Hatcher Winery (Specialties: Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel) Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11:00am - 5:00pm and weekdays by appointment.
  • Zucca Mountain Vineyards (Specialties: Barbera, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tesoro, Sangiovese Rosato) Daily 12:00 noon - 5:00pm
  • Black Sheep Winery (Specialties: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cinsault) Open weekends and holidays (weekdays by appt.) 12:00 noon until 5:00pm
  • Millaire Winery (Specialties: Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Port) Daily 11:00am - 5:00pm
  • Newsome-Harlow (Specialties: Big John's Zinfandel, Meritage Blend, Sauvignon Blanc) Open Friday - Sunday 11:00am to 6:00pm
  • Lavender Ridge Vineyards (Specialties: Viognier, Roussanne, Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah) Friday through Sunday, 11:00am - 5:00pm
  • Rocco’s Com’e Bella (Specialties: Mission, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay) Open Wednesday through Friday 12:00 noon - 5:00pm; Saturday and Sunday 11:00am - 5:00pm
  • Stevenot Winery (Specialties: Chardonnay, Syrah, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Zinfandel) Wednesday through Monday 11:00am to 6:00pm

A handful of the area’s wineries offer tasting rooms on site at their winery, almost all of them within an easy drive of Murphys. Just off Highway 4, and before you hit the east end of town, you will find Laraine Wines on Six Mile Road.

Laraine has a delightful intimate tasting room, usually only populated with a handful of people. Outside is a wonderful, cool green yard with picnic tables and a horseshoe pit. You have to share the yard with dog, Bam Bam, who is frequently found in his sand box. If you stay on Six Mile Road you will actually take a short cut by Ironstone and into Murphys. It is a quick, fairly easy-to-navigate gravel road. If you have a convertible, you may want to stick to the paved roads.

Back on Highway 4 and heading east, just a quick jaunt up Red Hill Road is the irreverent and not very wine-snobbish Twisted Oak (they also have a tasting room in town). Pirates hang outside the front door, women’s t-shirts inside sport “Wine Rack” slogans across the breast, and wines have names like “Murgatroyd.” Don’t be fooled by the attitude, you will definitely find something on the tasting menu (approx 13 wines) that you will enjoy.

Back on Hwy 4 and this time off Pennsylvania Gulch Road, is Indian Rock Vineyards. You will appreciate the scenery whether or not you are a movie buff. This is the location that the film “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” was shot.

Many of the wine tasting rooms are only open on weekends, though they will frequently take appointments if you know you are going to be in town and want to plan a specific itinerary. At this time, none of the tasting rooms are charging any fees for their basic tastings.

The Calaveras Wineries also produce several well attended (and well enjoyed) events throughout the year, include the upcoming Grape Stomp.

For information on these wineries, check out our listings on, or go online to

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