Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winetasting in Nevada County

Nevada County is not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks about California wine. It is also gets lost among the Sierra Foothills wine regions. However, there are 16 wineries located within short drives of Nevada City and Grass Valley that are ready to welcome you to their tasting rooms.

Two wineries have tasting rooms in Nevada City -- Indian Springs Vineyards and Nevada City Winery -- and three in Grass Valley -- Burch Hall & Coyoteville Wineries, Lucchesi Vineyards & Winery, and Sierra Starr Vineyards. All of these tasting rooms are open daily, from between 11:00 a.m. and noon to around 5:00 p.m.

The balance have tasting rooms at their wineries. The wineries are far apart from each other and not on main roads. A tasting room map will help you plan your visit. You can download one from Northen Sierra Wine Country's website. Many of these wineries are open to the public on Saturday afternoons and some are also open on Sunday afternoons. Appointments are needed to visit these wineries on weekdays. Some wineries always require an appointment to visit.

These wineries are mostly small, family affairs. Ten thousand cases is a lot of production in Nevada County. We visited five tasting rooms on a recent visit and found friendly staff everywhere. Usually there is no charge to taste.

Most of the wine is very reasonably priced, with most wines costing between $10 and $25 per bottle. Unfortunately, at these prices, many of the wineries cannot afford to buy the best in winemaking equipment. New French oak barrels are out of the question. Staves and used barrels are sometimes used. My favorite wines were at Sierra Star in Grass Valley.

In my last post, I highly recommended a visit to the charming town of Nevada City. If you find yourself in the area, you might want to visit a couple of the tasting rooms. However, I wouldn't recommend heading to the area solely to winetaste. The wineries are too far apart and the wine not of sufficient quality to make the Nevada County wine region a destination unto itself.

If you would like to have a private tour to Nevada City and/or Grass Valley, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Charming Nevada City

Nevada County is at the northern end of California's Gold Country, about one hour northeast of Sacramento and about 2 1/2 - 3 hours from San Francisco. The county is home to at least 15 wineries, which I'll talk about in my next post. First I want to highlight the charming town of Nevada City.

The first gold miners settled along Deer Creek in 1849. The town quickly grew with 30,000 people calling Nevada City home at one time. Today Nevada City is much smaller with just 3,000 people living in town. The central business district is on the registry of National Historic Landmarks. City law requires that the downtown area keep its 19th century appearance. Walk down any street and you will see many Victorian homes and buildings.

Fall is a nice time to visit Nevada City. The summer's heat has dissipated and the winter rains have yet to come. Many streets are lined with maple trees and, as a result, this is one of the few places in Northern California where you can see fall foliage. Broad, Main, and Commercial Streets are home to many antique stores, boutiques, galleries, and interesting shops.

The town is home to a number of restaurants. We dined at New Moon Cafe and Citronee Bistro and Wine Bar. New Moon Cafe features California cuisine, while Cintronee is more American albeit with a French influence. New Moon Cafe has a very interesting wine list that includes wines from some lesser known wine regions. You're sure to find something tasty at either restaurant. If you want a taste of New Orleans at lunch or breakfast, stop by Ike's Quarter Cafe.

Nevada City is home to many bed and breakfasts. We stayed at Emma Nevada House. Innkeeper Andy Howard will give you an overview of the house's interesting history upon your arrival. In the morning, you'll wake up to Susan Howard's delicious breakfast. Rooms are pretty good size and quite comfortable. If you enjoy Victorian bed and breakfasts, you'll want to check out Emma Nevada House.

For something a little different, try the Outside Inn. This typical roadside motel was refurbished with each room featuring a different outdoor theme. Rooms are quirky, clean, and very reasonably priced.

Whether you are a Bay Area resident in need of a weekend away from the city or an international visitor seeking some old west character, head up to Nevada City for a couple of days. You'll not be disappointed.

If you would like to take a private tour of California's Gold Country that includes a visit to Nevada City or you have a group that would like to visit Nevada City for a couple of days, Blue Heron can take care of your travel arrangements. Just call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.