It’s the end of summer and what better way to celebrate the harvest than to revisit a favorite winery of mine in Calaveras County in the Sierras over Labor Day weekend. Previously named Laraine Winery, Four Winds Winery sits just off of HWY 4. The road leading into to Four Winds winery is called Six Mile Road and you wind your way through beautiful scenery including rolling hills, old barns, and roaming horses. The winery itself sits on a
It’s not often that I step into a tasting room and feel right at home. There are too many wineries that have become double c’s – corporate and cold. But that isn’t the case at Big Dog Vineyards in Milpitas where owners Sandy and Mark make their guests feel welcome with their charming tasting room and wonderful wines. This small, family run winery rests atop a 1200 foot scenic hillside next to their beautiful residence. A large courtyard patio overlooking a hillside of vines offers a great place to sit and have a glass of wine and relax.
We drive up to the winery to enjoy super bowl festivities and watch the San Francisco 49ers play. Though there are about 10-15 people in the tasting room and courtyard, the staff is extremely attentive from the moment we walk in. Dick, one of the tasting room managers, greets us for a tasting and reminds us to take our time sipping each wine. He is knowledgeable about the wine list and genuinely wants to hear our feedback. Mark sets up a big screen in the tasting room and Sandy prepares appetizers and snacks for guests, including very delicious teriyaki meatballs. I stop counting after the 10th meatball I pop into my mouth. I even enjoy some Cheetos with some Cabernet, which is a first for me! During half time, we stand outside and enjoy the views and sip wine next to tall heaters. It’s hard not to take photos as the sun starts to set and the soft light cascades over the vines.
The duo is modest about their wines, but the red wines are no joke and it’s evident how committed and passionate they are about wine-making. The Cabs are a must taste. Standouts are the 2006 and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon – both with a sophisticated bouquet loaded with vanilla, spice, and dark berry flavors. Their Zinfandel Port Style Dessert Wine is also stellar and has a great balance of sweetness and flavor. Think of a field of plump blueberries.
The winery is open to the public the first full weekend of each month. A complete schedule is available on their website. If you want a warm, welcoming and peaceful wine tasting experience, Big Dog Vineyards is a great place to visit.
Big Dog Vineyards
4545 Felter Road
Milpitas, CA 95035
Cheetos and Cabernet – who would of thought?
16 Dec 2012
I enter the allegorie tasting room and can’t help but feel allegoric in my pursuit of some of the best of this small town’s Spanish varietals including a spicy Tempranillo. The tasting counter here is unlike any other on the main street of Murphy’s. It doubles as an art gallery and local artists display contemporary works as well as beautiful designed jewelry in cases. The tasting room attendants are friendly, informative, and passionate as if every bottle has it’s own narrative. Owen kindly helps us through the tasting list and out of the five wines we tasted
04 Jun 2011
It never fails that when I’m in search of a perfect red wine to bring home with me, that somehow a white wine does a sneak attack on my pallette and blows me away. This was such the case this weekend in Amador and Calaveras Wine Country. Both Shenandoah Valley and Murphys offers some great small production finds.
I was hell bent on finding a red, particularily a great Barbera. By the way, the best Barbera thus far in that region I’ve tried is at Indian Rock Vineyards in Murphys . And for only $18, it’s a steal. Indian Rock Vineyards 2007 Barbera.
But this trip, I wanted to find another great red. At Wildrotter Vineyard in Shenandoah, the staff was friendly and when asked, would you like to taste whites or reds today?, I shrugged my shoulders and said oh, let’s go ahead and start with the whites, I guess. Boom, Viognier! Luscious, floral, and a great summer wine. I ended up purchasing a bottle. Wildrotter Vineyards 2009 Viognier. Priced at $21.
Down the road inMurphys, the main street is lined with tons of tasting rooms and it’s hard to choose which to try first. On prior recommendation, I stopped at Bodega Del Sur Winery tasting room, located in a little alley behind the main shops. The best white wine on their tasting menu was a portugal varietal grape called Verdelho. The wine has a wonderful grassy and herbal aromas and although described as equivalent to a sauvignon blanc, I found the wine to be much more luscious and complex. Bodega Del Sur Alta Mesa 2008 Verdelho. Priced at $18. Quantities limited.
Lastly, at Tanner Winery tasting room, you can pick up a magnificent Rose, crisp, not to sweet and perfect as an appertif with cheese and light appetizers. Tanner Vineyards 2009 Doux Rose. Priced at $17.
Happy Wine Hunting!