The town of Sutter Creek is an old Gold Rush town with a beautiful Main Street lined with 19th Century buildings. Shops, restaurants, and B&B’s abound, but most importantly there are more wine tasting rooms than you can possibly get to in an entire day.
The town is named for John Sutter, the owner of Sutter’s Mill 50 miles to the north where gold was first discovered by James Marshal in 1848. After the discovery, a hoard of gold seekers descendent into the region, and Sutter headed south to set up camp at Sutter Creek in hopes of finding some solitude. Unfortunately for Sutter, gold-bearing quartz deposits were soon found near Sutter Creek, and prospectors and establishments soon followed. One could say that John Sutter quite literally had a Midas touch.
Much of the original charm still remains, and many amazing wineries from all across the Sierra Foothills have chosen to set up their tasting rooms here because of that charm. As a result, Sutter Creek has now found a new form of gold, and this is a wonderful place to spend a day or weekend of tasting wine.
Yorba Wines are made from the fruit of the vines from Ann Kraemer’s Shake Ridge Vineyard, perhaps the most highly-regarded multi-varietied vineyard in the Foothills. After managing vineyards in the Napa Valley, Ann turned her sights on the Foothills and established Shake Ridge. The vineyard was started in 2003 with plantings of Zinfandel, Barbera, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, and Rhone Varieties. Today, 46 acres are under vine. Yields are controlled and managed to optimize the grape’s concentration and resulting wine’s intensity.
Winemaker Ken Bernards turns Ann’s beautiful fruit into wines of exceptional quality. Each wine has a distinctively clean character with a complexity that comes in the form of haunting subtleties. The wines are perfectly balanced and long on the finish. The Zinfandel and Barbera are show stoppers, but the Tempranillo might well be our favorite if we were forced to choose… thankfully we aren’t.
The tasting room in downtown Sutter Creek is tasteful and spotless, and the staff is super-friendly and knowledgeable. The entire experience is a pleasure, but it is the wine that is the shining star here.
51 Hanford Street
Sutter Creek, CA 95685
Hours: Thursday-Monday 11:00-5:00
Foothills Wino Wineries to Watch
Many of us have lived full lives, but few have a resumé to match Greg Baiocchi’s. From rock and roll bass player for Guns N’ Roses and Alice Cooper... to BASE jumper.... to corporate America... to, now, winemaker and vineyard owner, Greg has lived a sometimes charmed, sometimes tragic, but always a full life. And his wines seem to reflect this fullness. Greg's vineyard of Mediterranean varieties is in Fair Play near the Amador county line, and his tasting room is on Main Street in Sutter Creek. The wines are available under the Baiocchi label (Viognier, Syrah, and Grenache being our personal favorites) and the gb label for easier-drinking, less expensive wines (the Del Papa white blend is outstanding). Music is provided on some Sunday afternoon on the patio… and if you get lucky, Greg might even pull out the old guitar.
The Barbera and Zinfandel are outstanding, and the Vermentino is one of the best, if not the best, in the region. You can taste in their cave in the Shenandoah Valley or in their tasting room in Sutter Creek (see also Shenandoah Valley page).
Mon-Sun 11:00-5:00 (6:00 on Fri, Sat)
Winemaker Chris Walsh specializes in minimal intervention wines at his tasting room in Amador City. While Chris is waiting on his own vineyard to mature, he sources from the highest quality vineyards in the region and never shies away from experimentation. Be sure to try the carbonic Zinfandel, and the Albarino and the Rose are always delightful. Amador City is another charming gold rush era town 3 miles northwest of Sutter Creek.
Susan Feist moved from the Bay Area to the Sierra Foothills nearly 20 years ago and has been making quality wine since. Her tasting room a block off of Main Street has also become the epicenter of the Sutter Creek music scene. Big time artists and delicious food offerings pair perfectly with Susan’s wines.
Check the website for the events schedule
A warm and delightful room in a very old building (or at least a very old wall) is the setting for the tasting of these amazing and up-and-coming wines from Tracy and Randy Hart. The Harts bought a vineyard in Fiddletown (an AVA just southeast of the Shenandoah Valley) in 2014 and have been making outstanding, hand-crafted wines since. The Viognier is our Foothills Wino Viognier of the Year. Our watchful eye is firmly planted on this winery.