I think I am in heaven. Only (and this is the best part) I'm NOT DEAD.
More posts to follow about the Sierra Foothills AVA, our trip to Tahoe and the lovely drive out to these golden-grassed, oak-studded hills so rapidly giving ground to masses of promising vineyards, and about the various gold mining towns here that revel in second lives as tourist destinations for history, fine wines and food. And we saw the most amazing castle today in a town you've never heard of (Ione). And it isn't a castle--it was a prison for wayward boys. Old California really knew how to do it right. And the scads of wineries include some which make great wines.
But I'm in heaven because of Susan's Place. Oh, my! Where to start? Little restaurant in Sutter Creek, where the CA gold rush began. Most of the tables are outside, only covered. Vines trail lazily about. Wonderful ambience. Susan herself interviews you about your wine stylistic preferences, and then she custom blends a glass or a 750ml pitcher of local wines for you. For us, she crafted a combo of local Grenache and an Italian blend called Migliore. Oh, my! This was yummy with our dinner and cost only $20!!!
The food rang the bell. Cream of asparagus soup was divine. My salad was seriously perfect. Jane had a veggie concoction with pesto, over polenta. I had the most scrumptious Mediterranean sauce full of ground beef and pork, with lots of veggies--slightly spicy, tomato-based. Then some angel named Ingrid (local pastry chef) supplied our caramel-walnut tart, which was to die for.
Why should you hop SW Air and get down here now? Because: The custom-blended wine was only $20. The entres were only $15 or $16 each, and the service and owner and atmosphere were SO wonderful. Not to mention the town is only 50 miles from Sacramento or about 100 miles from Tahoe (where we came from, via flight to Reno). This town is lovely. Well-preserved. Stone, simple wood, and fancy Victorian storefronts. Friendly folks everywhere. Tomorrow is a chili cookoff and antique car show. The buildings on main street are jumping from the 1850's right into your mind. If you shop carefully in the little shops here, you can find the most amazing antiques, and even the occasional 1921 Uncirculated Morgan silver dollar for just $25. And if you're a sun lover, it is BRIGHT and HOT here right now. Too hot for this Willamette boy, but with the low humidity the nights are cool.
Our Hanford House B&B is also perfect, with great young hosts who handle all the rooms, plus their organic veggie garden and chickens. Historic brick building. Free bikes which we used to see the town, including a tree just past the Jehova's Witnesses church, which was loaded with small, juicy yellow/orange plums. The "placer" gold (loose, in the creeks) went first, then they dug deep mines, which finally played out. The gold mining stuff (hoist derricks, ore carts, foundries, etc.) is mostly gone now, but a few reminders of that era remain.
Many more posts to follow. We have found many tasty wines, and they are very reasonable. Nary a tasting fee to be had, and the winery owners are marvelous. Napa was never this much fun for such little cost.
Wait! I see another angel outside, watching the tricycle races! Will write more later . . .