You can find well crafted Italian varietals with a California edge at La Folia in Murphys. Their Barbera is my favorite with a big blue smokey flavor that lasts.
But the unique find at La Folia that is quite unexpected is a white light crisp wine that is slightly frizzante. The bubbles are present when you pour your glass but they dissipate as you are drinking. This wine is also light in alcohol so don’t worry about driving home after a glass.
Man, you can pack up your car to leave Murphys but it won’t soon leave you. Something about this place pulls you in like a warm hug. The town may be in the midst of the quintessential growth spurt of any California wine pocket but it sure has not outgrown its small town sensibilities and locals consistently doubt it ever will. Doctors will still make house calls, corner coffee shops know your order, and tasting rooms greet you by first name.
If names like The Brat, The Instigator, The Brawler, and Baby Doll don’t intrigue you, the seductive flavors of wine will. Each one tells a story as all good bottles should. The wines continue the intrigue with their balanced and complex yet very different personalities. For example, the Grenache in The Brat wants to be big and steal the show, but the Syrah is the real star without being melodramatic. It’s fruit flavors begin with bright red cherries and strawberries but finish with hearty plum and robust black cherries that linger. The Instigator is like one of those big brooding hunks that has a soft supple side. Its powerful blueberry flavors with warm chocolate and spice make you feel like you’re sitting by a warm fire.
The peeps at Prospect 772 are equally as balanced and complex. Check out this rustic rabbit stew over rich warm polenta:
El Jardin – best Mexican food in town with unique salsas
Cactus Jacks – best place to watch the Niners win the playoffs. I know, the food might be better at Firewood; but they didn’t have the sound on. Murphys Hotel may have full bar but it’s too crowded there to hear the game.
Alchemy – excellent food, wine, and beer, creative menu choices, but creative schedule. Heading over at 8PM because their website says they are open doesn’t mean they’ll be open.
Grounds – most consistently good food with a consistent schedule
V Bistro – best cocktails and pub eats.
V – best dinner for two spot in town
Mineral – best vegetarian restaurant and lovely plates
Firewood – best carnitas tacos
Magnolia – very unique menu and delicious offerings; try it for brunch
Don’t know if this is truth or legend, but I heard the man who built this jail cell in the middle of town was only paid when he finished the project. After receiving payment, he walked across the street for a few drinks, had a few too many, got into a knife fight, and became the jail’s first prisoner.
Just realized I am staying above the people who won the Cupcake Ward on the Food Network! Their cakes are light as a feather but rich and flavorful. A delicate balance to achieve and devour.
So glad I didn’t find out sooner.
Lots of wineries donate some of their proceeds to different causes. But few can say this; Bodega Del Sur’s contributions to the Calaveras Resource Connection by selling their Carmesi blend has housed 10 families that needed shelter!
Local pride in local wines is strong in Murphys. The image below is of the corkage fee from a local restaurant menu:
Only 350 cases produced and just a few varietals, but Ayrael Vieux is worth a stop if you ever see their sandwich board sign out on Highway 4. They are only open on certain days of the weekend, depending on the seasons. But, they do have the most elegant old world style wines in the area.
Be careful when pulling into their drive. Ollie, the vineyard dog, is very friendly and may run right in front of your moving car just to greet you.
Took this wine to a cool music jam session last night in a town that has a population of 25 but like 40 of ’em are rock stars. We all loved the wine even more than its creatively profound name. If you know what bueno means, say the name in your head three times quickly.