Miner Towns, Winer Towns

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Short trips are nice. My husband and I really enjoy driving to small towns (might have mentioned that a thousand times already). We took one day trip a couple weeks ago that was memorable. We were planning to go wine tasting in Amador and El Dorado counties on a Saturday. Of course, clearing the deck in the morning (checking work emails) always takes a bit longer than planned, but that’s OK. We headed out by mid-morning on a bright day. Traffic was not bad. From Stockton, we took Highway 88 East through Lockeford, Ione and then Highway 49 towards Plymouth. We started hankering for lunch about that time. Plymouth business were shut down this particular Saturday. Nothing seemed open, so we kept going. Nashville is a lovely hamlet along the North Fork Cosumnes River, but no business district or eateries were to be found. So we made it to El Dorado. We’ve driven through this town on our way to Fair Play wineries before, but never stopped for any reason.

This time, we made a good call to stop at Poor Red’s Bar-B-Q. They had outdoor seating, and we got lucky that a large party had just left, clearing some room in a sunny spot. It was a great day for a Bloody Mary, so we had a couple (made spicy, of course). Red’s is a fun spot with some real history. Originally constructed as a weigh station for Wells Fargo during the height of the Gold Rush, along the Pony Express, it operated under the name Kelly’s Bar from 1927 until 1948. Kelly ran the bar, while his business partner “Red” sold ribs out the back. When they decided to part ways, they played a game of dice to see who would get the establishment. Red won, but the cost of it put him into the “poor house.” That’s how the name Poor Red’s was born. There is a lot of fun memorabilia inside. For lunch, we went for ribs and a flank steak. I think it was the best flank steak I ever had, and the ribs were really delicious. Worth the 2.5 hour drive.

But we were out for wine tasting! Time to go taste wine. Yet maybe we should check out French Quarter, next to Red’s, first. It is a really quaint store with lots of interesting home and garden decor. We found a few items to purchase, and many more that we had to consider carefully. Maybe for our next home…

Again, weren’t we supposed to be wine tasting? OK, but let’s just get some coffee first. There is a great place up the road in Diamond Springs, Caffè Santoro. After the Bloody Mary’s, a little caffeine is a good idea. We both got latte’s and they were fantastic. So many places cannot steam my fat-free milk successfully. Our barista, Vanessa, did a terrific job. Sorry I didn’t take a picture, but trust me, it was good!

OK, let’s go wine taste. We were planning to go someplace we hadn’t visited before, but time was now running low so we went to a trusted favorite, Shadow Ranch. We tasted five of their wines and came home with two cases: sauvignon blanc and Sheriff, a fun table wine blend. Really delicious stuff! It is so nice to go tasting where it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg just to taste, and the wines are not prohibitively expensive. More importantly, they are truly nice expressions of the climate and the grapes. Plus, we got meet Captain, the 17 year “puppy.” He was really sweet.

So, what’s next? Well, it is now getting on the late side, and probably best to just head home. The drive is beautiful at dusk. We caught a gorgeous sunset from the foothills, and the waxing crescent moon also set in the horizon as we neared home. Another nice drive on a rare day off. I recommend it!

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This post was written by Rumana Jabeen

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