We like to do the Calaveras Murphys Wine Trail on two separate days. On the first day we drive from Murphys to Vallecito and begin with Twisted Oak Winery. On the second day we stay in downtown Murphys and take a day to stroll, shop, taste, and have lunch. You can also begin your visit to the wineries as you drive up from the San Francisco Bay Area on Highway 4.
Top Wineries on the Calaveras/Murphy Wine Trail
- Twisted Oak Winery – Zany tasting room but seriously good wine
- Irish Vineyards – Small family-run winery
- Chatom Vineyards – Nice picnic, beautifully-balanced wine
- Indian Rock Vineyards – best picnic spot, 21 varieties of wine
- Murphys Downtown Tasting Rooms – 18 to visit
Dining and Lodging Recommendations
This is a handy book for researching the wineries of the Sierra Foothills: Pour Me Another: An Opinionated Guide to Gold Country Wines 2011
Winery Descriptions, Driving Directions, Tasting Room Hours
Twisted Oak winery refers to the lovely twisted oak tree on the property, but the word Twisted can undoubtedly be about the winery itself. Twisted Oak Winery is undoubtedly one of the zanier wineries in all of California’s wine country. Owner Jeff Stai has made sure that wine tasting is all fun and not an uppity, snobby experience you might get in the Napa Valley. Even though the wine experience is about fun, the wines are seriously good. There are excellent tasting Spanish and Rhone varietals at Twisted Oak. Twisted Oak is on Red Hill Road, which runs into Highway 4. Take the unpaved path up to the winery.
This winery is a little hidden, so observe for Parrots Ferry Road coming into Highway 4 on the right. Turn right and then a quick left to the winery. They don’t make any Irish wines here, the family’s last name is Irish, but there is an Irish theme to this winery. Irish Vineyards has a good selection of white and red wines and at reasonable prices. Since Janelle is Irish, she thinks it is a great winery to visit.
After leaving Irish Vineyards, head up Highway 4 a short distance and look for the Chatom Winery on the right. It is all “Estate” wines at Chatom. Estate means the winery sources all the grapes for its wines from its vineyards. The wines are reasonably priced and very delicious. The red wines are bold and fruit-forward, so if this is your style, you will very much enjoy the wines at Chatom. Among the whites, we like the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc. There is a beautiful picnic area, and on hot days Chatom usually runs a misting system around the picnic tables.
Indian Rock does things a little differently than the other 23 wineries in and around the town of Murphys. 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, part of the tasting room sales. Indian Rock also has a scenic picnic area adjacent to a small pond swimming with jumping trout. Turn right at Pennsylvania Gulch Road and drive about a mile to the winery.
Murphys Tasting Rooms
We have visited most of the tasting rooms in Murphys, but we have to narrow it down to a few “must-see” tasting rooms. We suggest Frog’s Tooth, Hatcher, Lavender Ridge, Milliare, Newsome-Harlow, Tanner, and Val Du Vino. If you missed Twisted Oak’s Winery in Vallecito, then hit the tasting room in downtown Murphys. Take a leisurely stroll along Main Street, and you will come across all of these tasting rooms. Val Du Vino is at the very end of downtown on French Gulch Road and is the only working winery in downtown Murphys. Check this Map.