Posted September 2006
Murphys: Ironstone Vineyards
A Winery Destination
(MURPHYS, CA) – Ironstone Vineyards is a Tasting Room Destination.
You can spend a full day at this winery and still maybe not explore
everything it has to offer. Definitely the granddaddy of Calaveras
wineries, Ironstone (still family owned) dwarfs most of the nearby
facilities. The Ironstone compound sits on more than 1,100 acres
and features at its center a 75,000 square foot, seven-story
At the heart
of the hospitality center you will find the wine
tasting bar, deli, and gift shop carrying clothing, gourmet food products,
and other food related items. The grand space features a historic
bar from 1907 that sailed around Cape Horn to its original home
in a port outside of Sacramento, and a 42 foot high fireplace
that is built of solid limestone and Calaveras Schist rock excavated
during the construction of the wine caverns. Two patios allow
deli patrons to enjoy the outdoors, and many indoor tables are
set among an interesting collection of area antiques.
the entry to the wine tasting bar is the Heritage
jewelry shop. The museum contains geological and historic artifacts
from the area’s mining, agricultural, ranching and Indian communities.
In a separate vault the world’s largest
Crystalline Gold Leaf Specimen is kept. Weighing forty-four
pounds, this piece of gold was discovered by the Sonora Mining
Company on Christmas Day, in 1992, only fifteen miles from its
current home at Ironstone. Estimated at more than $3 million
dollars when it was found, the specimen is now considered priceless.
The Heritage Jewelry
Shoppe showcases gold-in-quartz jewelry, natural gold nuggets
and nugget jewelry, as well as a collection of diamond, emerald,
turquoise and other precious and semi-precious gem artistry.
You can even work with the staff to create your own design or
one-of-a-kind piece. The Jewelry Shoppe also features collector
pottery, Reidel stemware and rare objets d’arte.
The caves – blasted,
picked, and shoveled through10,000 square feet of limestone and
schist rock -- are what gave Ironstone Vineyards its name. The
task to dig them took ten months to complete. The rock was so
hard and difficult; the miners often said it was like blasting
through iron. Thus, the name “Ironstone Vineyards” was born.
Besides storing one million gallons of wine in oak barrels and
stainless steel tanks, the caves – and the breezeway located
just outside -- are used for private parties, wedding receptions,
plays, music shows and other events. If you are lucky enough
to get a tour, there is something inside this cave that most
wine caves don’t have – real bats.
Speaking of outside, there
are 14 acres of gardens that are given over to mining displays,
and opportunities to pan for gold with a real prospector. A riot
of color in the form of rotating flower displays starts with
300,000 daffodil bulbs that bloom in March. Numerous public and
private events all year long, including concerts, weddings, picnics,
barbeques and games are held in the gardens and at the amphitheatre:
of note among those is the spectacular Concours d'Elegance classic
car show, and the summer concert series that hosts names like
Heart, Kansas, and Bonnie Raitt (September 2006). For information
on what’s playing at Ironstone, check out the events
listing on WineCountry.com or check
it is entertainment that you like with your wines, Ironstone
hosts a series of silent movies, as well. Guests can enjoy
dinner and the unique experience of watching the movie with live
accompaniment on the Alhambra Theatre Pipe Organ. A 1927 theater
organ saved from the Alhambra Theatre when it was torn down.
Culinary demonstrations and classes are the focus of the Culinary
Center. The Center is equipped with overhead video cameras,
television monitors and surround-sound acoustics. It is next
to the Alhambra Music Room, and located on the 5th floor of
the 7-story complex. The 1,560 square foot Culinary
Center host group luncheons and private dinners.
The beautiful grounds
are a favorite with wine country brides, and Ironstone is happy
to facilitate many weddings – usually around 80 a year, most
of which are booked a year in advance. Ironstone has a Bridal
Room located by the Heritage Jewelry Shoppe that gives couples
a place to look at wedding photos and talk to event coordinators.
The Heritage Jewelry Shoppe offers bridal accessories, and
selection of gifts, as well as a bridal registry.
If you are interested
in visiting Ironstone, the tasting room is open seven days
a week from 10am to 5pm (6pm in the summer). Check out their
website for more information, or to plan a visit. http://www.ironstonevineyards.com