Discover Unhurried, Uncrowded Wineries in Sacramento’s Backyard
Just 15 minutes from Sacramento, but a world away, the wine tasting region of the California Delta beckons to residents as well as visitors looking for a convenient, yet local getaway.
Take a leisurely drive along the meandering Sacramento River on a warm autumn day and discover unhurried, uncrowded wine tasting at family-run, local wineries. Enter this part of the Delta and see pear farms, grape vines and small towns full of California history.
Down a river road, past Rio Vista, the Sacramento River suddenly widens and changes, flowing toward the Antioch Bridge and eventually making its way to the San Francisco Bay. Discovering wine tasting in this region is an easy and relaxing adventure.
To get to the Delta wine region, head south out of Sacramento on Interstate 5. Take the Pocket/Meadowview exit, heading east and turn right on Freeport Blvd (Highway 160). Within a few minutes, you enter the tiny town of Freeport, the gateway to the Delta. Cross the historic Freeport Bridge and continue south about two miles to the Old Sugar Mill, a repurposed sugar mill that now houses wine tasting rooms for 11 local wineries. It would be easy to spend all day here, but to see more of the region, move on to Bogle Winery, just a few miles south, past Clarksburg on South River Road.
Bogle is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic on the spacious grounds, surrounded by vineyards. The grassy area is dotted with picnic tables and chairs. Take advantage of the balcony seating upstairs outside of the tasting room and enjoy a bottle of wine. The Bogle family has been farming since the 1880s, and planted their first wine grapes in 1968. Bogle wines are now distributed internationally, but the tasting room still retains its original charm. Popular wines include Viognier, produced every other year, and the Phantom Red, a blend of petite sirah, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and mourve`dre.
Heading back on the river road towards Clarksburg, make a stop at Julietta, a beautiful winery new to the region, or Miner’s Leap, which boasts a spacious outdoor setting for wine tasting and special events. Alternatively, cross back over the Freeport Bridge and head south on the River Road (Highway 160) to Scribner Bend Vineyards, owned by Mark and Lorraine Scribner. The winery offers a small, but lovely picnic area surrounded by rose bushes, and a giant outdoor tent used for weddings and winery events. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable and always happy to pour a second taste of something you tried but aren’t quite sure about.
The Scribner Bend Vineyards began as a farm in 1893 and started wine sales in 2001. The wine tasting room opened in 2002 and the Scribners can be found in the tasting room from time to time, chatting with customers or pouring wine. The Reserve Chardonnay is one of the newer additions to their wine selection. This wine only comes in a 375 ml bottle and features that old-fashioned, oaky, buttery chardonnay.
There are now 20 wineries in the Delta wine region. Not all have tasting rooms yet, but look for that to change in this wine-growing region as more and more Northern Californians discover what has quickly become a popular wine tasting destination.
Where to Eat:
Looking for a fun place to eat before hitting the wineries, or in-between? Try Husick’s in Clarksburg. The restaurant opened in 2014 and offers barbeque ribs, tri-tip and other meats. The menu also features salads and a variety of sides that pair well with barbecue, including Coca Cola beans, coleslaw, greens and macaroni and cheese that’s a crowd favorite. The restaurant serves 14 beers on tap and offers wine tasting from four local wineries. The atmosphere is funky and takes advantage of its origins as a hardware store.
Where to Stay:
The Westin Sacramento (WestinSacramento.com) overlooks the Sacramento River and is just a 10-minute drive to Freeport via Interstate 5. Embassy Suites (EmbassySuites3.Hilton.com) also overlooks the Sacramento River, just a few miles north of the Westin, and next to Old Sacramento at the Capitol Bridge.
Arrange a wine tasting tour through Delta Heartbeat Tours, offered Thursdays through Sundays at $60 per person. The company uses comfortable mini-buses to visit some of the Delta’s best wineries and also offers tours to nine Delta towns, as well as custom tours. Call 916.776.4010 or go to DeltaHeartbeatTours.com.