Category Archives: Calaveras

A Very Good Omen

When the Shelter-in-Place orders first rolled out, there was a lot of tension and anxiety around what it all means, what we will do during quarantine, and how long it will last. There was also uncertainty about supplies, not only how to get them, but whether there would even be the products we need. Would life resemble any form of normalcy?

Only a few days into the lockdown, we received a very good omen. Actually, two Omens and an Oro Bello. While we get the occasional sample of wine, we normally receive an email offering the sample. This time, the wine just arrived unannounced! Looks like we’re going to be just fine.

The following wines were provided as a media sample for review. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

Omen and Oro Bello wines are produced and distributed by Atlas Wine Company. With headquarters in Napa, Atlas Wine Company is building a portfolio of wines that are sustainable, approachable, and ready to drink; no long-term cellaring required, though they would hold up well if you laid them down. They source grapes from “hidden gem” vineyards. These vineyards are located in regions that are perhaps less well known, but are up and coming, and producing excellent fruit. Places like Calaveras County in the Sierra Foothills, Paso Robles, Madera, and Rouge Valley, Oregon. Grapes from these areas come at a much lower cost than say, Napa, which allows Atlas Wine Company to produce wines that are affordable.

The real test of any wine, of course, is opening the bottle! All of the wines we received proved to be exceptional, and quite food friendly. The Omen line is comprised of red wines, while Oro Bello is whites and rosé.

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Omen Wines Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($40)

This is a single vineyard wine, from the Rorick Heritage Vineyard in Calaveras County. Since Calaveras County has not yet received it’s own (well deserved) AVA designation, this wine is labeled with the Sierra Foothills AVA.

Inky purple color in the glass. Aromas of rube blackberry, black currant, and clove. On the palate, rich and full bodied with flavors of blackberry, blueberry, cassis, plum, and black cherry, with clove, baking spice, leather, and tobacco. Bright acidity makes it quite food friendly; we enjoyed it with grilled rib eye steak. Long finish of black fruit and black pepper.

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Omen Wines Red Blend 2018 ($20)

Another Sierra Foothills AVA wine, this is one tasty blend.

A juicy blend of 63% Zinfandel, 21% Syrah, 8% Barbera, and 8% Petite Sirah. Inky purple color. On the nose there are aromas of ripe blackberry, cherry, and fresh black pepper. Flavors of Marionberry pie, black cherry, dark plum, blueberry, and smoky, spicy notes. Rich, full bodied, with soft tannins and medium acidity. Long, spicy finish. The label says “Pairs great with burgers.” And, boy, they’re not wrong!

 

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Oro Bello Chardonnay 2018 ($35)

Another single vineyard delight, this wine hails from the Fallenleaf Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast. After press, the wine was transferred to neutral French Oak barrels to mature. This is the style of Chardonnay we really enjoy, with little to no oak influence.

Golden straw color. Wonderful citrus and tropical nose, with pineapple and lemon-lime notes, and the slightest hint of butterscotch. On the palate, fresh and clean, with pear, apple, pineapple, and citrus, with slight butter and butterscotch flavors. Medium body and lively acidity. Paired with grilled salmon with lemons, a very complementary pairing.

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Omen and Oro Bello wines are available for purchase online at their respective websites. We definitely recommend giving them a try. As a special thank you, through the rest of 2020, readers and followers of Appetite for Wine can receive 15% off when you use the coupon code: APPETITE15! Just go to https://store.atlaswineco.com/#/ and enter the coupon code at checkout!

In addition to the samples we received, the Omen line also includes a non-single vineyard California Cabernet Sauvignon  and an Oregon Pinot Noir. The Oro Bello line offers a non-single vineyard Chardonnay, a Russian River AVA Rosé of Pinot Noir, and a couple of canned wines; a Blanc de Blancs, and a newly released Light Chardonnay, with lower ABV and fewer calories. Whether you chose red, white, or rosé, still or sparkling, it’s never wrong to seek out a good omen! 

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds

Destination: Calaveras Grape Stomp

The weather was perfect; crystal-clear skies, low 80’s, and a slight breeze. The juice was flowing; from the barrel, and from the bottle. Welcome to the 2015 Calaveras Grape Stomp, in Murphys, California!

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Held the first Saturday of every October, in conjunction with Gold Rush Street Faire, this year’s Grape Stomp held special meaning, as Calaveras County residents begin the recovery and rebuilding process following the devastating Butte fire. The Butte fire raged for nearly a month, burning 70,868 acres and destroying 475 residences[1]. Mandatory evacuations displaced thousands of people, and disrupted the local economy, which is highly dependent on tourism.

The Calaveras Winegrape Alliance produces the annual Grape Stomp as a benefit for local community groups. This year’s beneficiary is the Disaster Relief Fund for the Butte Fire. Proceeds from t-shirt sales, silent auction, and wine tasting will help to support those impacted by the fire.

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The Grape Stomp takes place in the Community Park in picturesque Murphys, “Queen of the Sierra” and heart of Calaveras County wine country. The competition pits teams of two in a juicy, sloppy, purple race to see who can extract the most juice from 25 pounds of grapes in three minutes. The teams consist of a Stomper and a Swabber. The Stomper’s job is self-described. The Swabber collects the pressed juice. It’s a raucous, high-energy event, with many teams dressed in costume[2].

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The fun isn’t limited to the stage. There is a silent auction, and of course, wine tasting. $15 gets you an etched Riedel glass and a coveted wrist band, entitling the wearer to sample the wares of the more than two dozen wineries in the area.

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Up the hill from the park on Main Street, the Street Faire delights with arts and crafts, music, food, and even a Mai Tai booth! Unlike street fairs and festivals in more populated areas, the Gold Rush Street Faire in rural Murphys was well attended, but not crowded.

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Murphys

Murphys is an historic Gold Rush town. In recent years, the regional wine industry has sprung up, and is quite successful. There are some 27 tasting rooms along Main Street, in the space of just a few blocks. The wine is sensational, and the people are friendly and inviting.

This is also, by far, the most dog-friendly community I’ve ever visited. Most of the shops and tasting rooms welcome four-legged guests, and many restaurants feature outdoor seating to accommodate Fido. Be sure to stop in at Murphys Dog Store (281 Main Street, Suite B) for concierge-level service and a great selection of dog supplies[3].

After a fun afternoon of enjoying the festivities, we were hungry. Fortunately for us, Murphys boasts a number of gourmet dining options. We chose the Alchemy Wine Bar & Café [4]. They feature BBQ Spare Ribs with Krassen Big Mouth Syrahan extensive list of local wines by the glass or bottle. (Their adjacent market has more than 100 beers on hand, if you’re into that.)

The Slow-Smoked BBQ Spareribs with garlic fries and homemade cilantro slaw was amazing, and paired nicely with a glass of Klassen “Big Mouth” Syrah.

Likewise, the Chef’s Burger – topped with melty blue cheese and caramelized onions, wiChef's Burger with Black Sheep Zinth a side salad (meager attempt at eating healthy) was amazing! I gave up trying to hold it in my hands; this is a “knife and fork” burger! My glass of Black Sheep Zinfandel washed it down beautifully.

Too full to even look at the dessert menu (but check it out online…we’ll be back!), we meandered back to the car for our drive home.

Travel Tips:

Bring cash. T-shirts and tasting tickets are cash only. There are no banks in Old Town Murphys. The nearest one is about a half-mile walk. There were reports of ATMs in various locations in town, but I was not able to find one.

If you are staying overnight, be sure to wander Main Street after the Street Faire has folded up. Murphys, like many old Gold Rush towns, is full of history.

Check out the Gold Mining museum at Ironstone Vineyards. It’s really interesting!

Support the Recovery

If you can’t make it out for a visit, but would like to help, please consider donating to the Calaveras Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund: http://calaverascommunityfoundation.org/news-events/calaveras-community-foundation-disaster-relief/

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[1] http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_details_info?incident_id=1221

[2] http://visitmurphys.com/calaveras-grape-stomp-and-street-faire/

[3] https://www.facebook.com/murphysdogstore

[4] http://alchemymarket.com/