This week we are exploring wineries in Calaveras County in the Sierra Foothills. Indian Rock Vineyards was our first stop. Indian Rock does things a little differently than the other 23 wineries in and around the town of Murphys. They do not belong to the Calaveras Wine Association, so you won’t find them on the handy winery guide that is available in just about every store or lodging establishment in town. They prefer to be off the radar, building their clientele on word-of-mouth and the reputation of their wine. They don’t sell their wine retail; most of it goes to their wine club members and the rest is sold to visitors out of their tasting room. A few bottles can be found in local restaurants.
We tasted five wines, two whites and three reds, for a $5 tasting fee (which can be applied to a purchase of wine). Indian Rock makes 25 varietals of wines, so we just barely scratched the surface of their wine offerings. We started off with a very nice and lively Vermentino priced at $16. Indian Rock is just one of a handful of California wineries that make this Italian varietal. We were very impressed with their red blend they call the Coyote Creek Red. It’s a non-vintage red that is priced at $16 and is the most popular of the Indian Rock wines. It is a tasty wine that is very mellow throughout, and definitely a good choice with a variety of foods. The Petite Sirah was also outstanding, a big bold wine that cries out for baby back pork ribs on the grill.
We stumbled on the owner Ed Bauer out in the vineyards and had a lively chat with him about the winery and his philosophy of making good food-friendly wines to be sold at reasonable prices. He was proud to tell us that he has one of the best winemakers in California, Marco Cappelli. Marco wanted to escape the Napa Valley scene and moved to Indian Rock for a much quieter and serene lifestyle.
The wine club is the bread and butter of their wine sales. They have capped the wine membership at 700, and as members decide to drop out they offer new memberships to the public. If there are any openings, they list them on a chalkboard. On our visit, two spots were open and were quickly scooped up by guests during our tasting session. If you are in the Murphys area, you will want to put this tasting room on your list. The grounds are beautiful with a shaded picnic area. Bring a lunch and have a glass of Vermentino and enjoy the day.