It’s no secret that I love, love, love the Sierra Foothills. Everything about this area gets better with fall. The weather starts its descent into the 70’s, the colors change from green to red and gold, and harvest season begins for the local wineries. I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to take a local wine tasting tour, and fall felt like the right time to do it. There may be gold in them there hills, but the real gems of Gold Country are the wines!
I planned the trip with a few friends by checking out the Sierra Vintner’s website. They offer helpful resources like a map of local wineries, winery hours, website links, etc. Finding the information was easy; the hard part was narrowing down our number of stops to only three or four.
Renting a ride was out, but luckily a friend offered to be our designated driver. Seven of us hit the road on a beautiful Saturday morning around 11:45AM. Our goal was to start off at Coufos Cellars and to get there as soon as their tasting room opened (we left from Penn Valley). Coufos is a short drive from Hwy 20 into Rough & Ready. No need to have a navigator; there are “wine” signs everywhere!
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we pulled up to Coufos. The tasting room looked like a cozy cottage overlooking acres of vineyards (later I learned the site is actually an old dairy farm.) Once inside we met Sal. Sal took us through our wine tasting experience and explained that the grape cultivation and production for Coufos Wines all happen locally in the Sierra Foothills. I especially loved the 2008 Greneche, a medium red with lots of fruity accents. Our wine tastings were free with purchase of a bottle.
By 12:45PM it was time for lunch, but first we stopped by the Szabo Tasting Room on Broad Street in Nevada City. Szabo is one of my favorite places to relax after work (my office is just a few steps away). After tasting several different wines, we altogether purchased a full case (the most wine purchased during our trip.) That’s how good Szabo’s wines are! Be aware, however, that tastings are not waived with purchase of bottles.
It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention how spectacular our lunch at Lefty’s Grill was. If you get the chance to visit Lefty’s during a day when the weather is nice, sit outside on the patio where you can enjoy the view of Deer Creek. And try the flatbreads. Any of them – they’re all seriously delicious.
Time tends to go by fast when you have a schedule to keep. Before we knew it, it was already 3PM. Most vineyards close by 5PM, so to save time we hopped back in the car and headed towards Mill Street. Mill Street in Grass Valley (and the surrounding block) is home to several local tasting rooms.
We stopped first at Sierra Starr, which is actually on Main Street. If you’re a lover of white wines and bubbly, you’ll enjoy Sierra Starr. Try their Almond and Peach sparkling wines – so good! Plus they have a super cute shopping area with tons of wine merchandise.
Our last spot ended up being Lucchesi Winery, another fantastic locally owned vineyard. You’ll usually find Linda, one of the owners, behind the bar at the tasting room pouring wine. I grabbed a bottle of their Chardonnay and some of the yummy food they had fixed for their wine club party (what good luck that we stumbled in on it).
And after four wineries, tasty bites, and lots of laughter we threw in the towel! But what a day! What an adventure. I already knew that I loved wine, but the experience showed me even more how much I love the people of Nevada County. I am truly blessed to live in such a warm, creative, sustainable area.