|Old wine in old bottles|
Gold has always been integral to the fabric of the Sierra Foothills (
, Amador and Calaveras counties) and people still flock to Gold Country in search of new discoveries. The main one these days is wine. With the massive influx of people searching for gold in 1849, enterprising men and woman planted vineyards to make wine to sell to the miners. In many instances formerly drinkable water from local rivers became so heavily polluted by mining that cheap wine was preferred, and safer. El Dorado California’s gold rush faded by 1855 and the throngs of people moved to the larger city of . That move caused the demise of the Sierra Foothills wine region, where there were hundreds of wineries. The mass exodus however spawned the growth of another wine region… San Francisco . Napa
|The old walls of the Coloma Winery still stand|
|The Redwood Cellar at Charles Krug|
The original redwood cellar was recently restored to its stunning glory and it’s a state historic landmark. Robert Mondavi (Peter Mondavi’s brother) still presides over the wines at age 97. (http://www.charleskrug.com/)
|Santa Cruz Winery - in its heyday|
Santa Barbara in the late 1890s about 200 acres of grapes were planted on Santa Cruz Island, just off the coast, the remnants still standing on the interior of the island. And while you’re in Santa Barbara , if you drive on De La Vina Street, Santa Barbara well, it used to be covered with vines.
Saucelito Canyon Winery in the
Edna Valley in was so remote, when they originally planted vines in 1880, the Feds trying to find it during Prohibition, couldn’t. Good thing too. Great zinfandels come from these true old vines and if you ever get a chance to visit the original homestead (it’s not open to the public but their tasting room is) go! Their “1880” zinfandel is made from grapes grown on original rootstock. It’s a magical place – and it’s where I asked my wife to marry me. San Luis Obispo County
|Saucelito Canyon Zinfandel vines on their 1880s rootstock|
Gypsy Canyon Winery off Highway 246 near
Lompoc has original Mission grapes on site too, and they produce Angelica, a sweet wine made from brandy and Mission grapes from an 1860’s recipe. (http://www.gypsycanyon.com/). In 1919 the first known grapes went into the ground in Monterey County, a remote place called Chalone, where the Chenin Blanc still produces fruit! And around the same time, commercial vineyards were planted in Paso Robles.
Grapevines can be amazingly hardy. (While I was in
in 2010, I visited a fat old vine still producing grapes which is 140 years old). So visit some of Spain ’s historic wineries, sip history and be part of that continuum. California
|Santa Barbara Mission with grapevines (now gone) in front|