Thursday, April 7, 2011

Clarksburg Spring Fling introduces this hidden wine region to wine lovers

The Clarksburg Wine Growers invited wine lovers to the Spring Fling Picnic in Clarksburg on April 2-3 to sample wines in this often overlooked wine region.  Visitors loved sampling wines from 12 Clarksburg wineries at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg.  So where is Clarksburg?  This unique wine region is only 15 miles from downtown Sacramento in the heart of the Sacramento River Delta. 

From the Bay Area Clarksburg is easy to reach and is a lovely Sunday drive.  This writer stopped by at Babs Delta Diner for a delicious country breakfast overlooking the Suisun City marina as we entered the Delta region.  Driving east towards the river you will be passing miles of countryside, spotting farm homes and pastures with sheep and goats.  At Rio Vista, the Gateway to the Delta, be sure to turn left at River Road, just before the drawbridge over the Sacramento River.  Heading north, passing rows of local fishermen looking for the night’s dinner, you will soon arrive at your first ferry across the river, the Real McCoy II.  This free ferry will take you across Cache Slough to Ryer Island.  The Real McCoy can hold six cars and only takes a few minutes to cross but it is a great opportunity to admire this great region of California.  Taking the levee road around Ryer Island you will see that the land to your left, full of vineyards and orchards, is lower than the slough to your right.  Arriving at the Steamboat Slough ferry it is another short ride to Grand Island. Continue north along South River Road towards Clarksburg. 
North of Clarksburg follow the signs to the Old Sugar Mill.  It is normally the home to six local wineries but for the Spring Fling they were joined with six other Clarksburg wineries on the grass.  The Old Sugar Mill was constructed in 1934 and continued producing sugar in Clarksburg until it closed in 1993.  By 2000 plans were on the way to renovate the building to create a wine tasting and crush facility.  It is a great facility bringing together the past and present in agriculture in the delta region.  Permanent wineries in the Old Sugar Mill include Carvalho Family Winery, The Solomon Wine Company, The Three Wine Company, Heringer Estates, Todd Taylor Wines and Clarksburg Wine Company.
Spring Fling also gave visitors the opportunity to taste wines from wineries throughout Clarksburg wine region.  A few of these wineries have tasting rooms but many do not.  The additional wineries for Spring Fling included Bogle Vineyards, Dancing Coyote, The Crusher, Miner’s Leap, Six Hands, Scribner Bend, Tierra Del Rio and Wilson Vineyards.  The event felt more like a family country picnic than a typical over packed wine event.  Bands were playing on Saturday and Sunday and local caterers were providing food for the event.  The visiting wineries were set up under tents outdoors enjoying the perfect weather.  Visitors had plenty of wines to sample during the day and then could relax on the grass listening to the bands, enjoying pizza or a sandwich. 

The Clarksburg appellation covers almost 57,000 acres over an area 16 miles long and 8 miles wide with approximately 10,000 acres of vineyards.  It is a great wine region characterized by warm summer days that allow the grapes to grow and produce deep flavors and ripe sugars and cool delta nights giving the grapes a chance to rest from a hard day work as they prepare for the next day.  Over 25 grape varietals grow here but they are primarily famous for Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Gris for the whites and Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel for the reds.  It is easily accessed from both the Bay Area and Sacramento, the tasting rooms are country friendly and not nearly as crowded as many other areas.

Over the next few weeks you will enjoy articles about many of the participating wineries here in the California Wine Examiner so subscribe to be sure you don’t miss any. 

For more information about Clarksburg wineries:

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