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County Grape Growers Strut Their Stuff

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By Craig Koscho

Calaveras County´s wine industry continues to grow and local grapes are making a strong impression not only here, but throughout the state.

That was more than obvious during Saturday afternoon´s second annual Winegrape Reception sponsored by the Calaveras Winegrape Growers Association.

The banquet room at Ironstone Vineyards near Murphys was filled with representatives from 24 wineries offering participants tastes of vintages made with Calaveras County grapes.

The widespread popularity of the county´s fruit was illustrated by the Smith Wooton winery, which is located in Yountville.

Winery owner Gary Wooton was making cabernet at Bell Cellars in the Napa Valley when he came across syrah grapes produced by Calaveras County grower Richard Tanner.

Wooton was so impressed with the fruit, he decided to start making syrah with Tanner´s grapes.

Wooton´s wife, Suzanne, said the winery was named for her husband´s mother, who more than appreciates the company´s endeavors.

“She demands a case a year,” Suzanne Wooton joked.

Calaveras County´s own burgeoning industry was apparent with the number of new wineries pouring product.

Anna Gates was providing samples of a port for Catano Winery, owned by her and husband Joe.

They designed their new home to include wine operations and are located about a mile off Gold Strike near San Andreas.

“The winery is actually the basement,” Anna Gates said.

Quintetta Reserve is their first release. It´s a dessert wine made from traditional Portuguese port varietals.

Lavender Ridge winery features only Rhone varietals. It opened in October and is owned by Rich and Siri Gilpin.

The vineyard is located in Copperopolis and the tasting room is in Murphys, Siri Gilpin said, adding that her husband has been making wine in other areas of the state for 20 years.

There were offering Saturday´s guests a taste of Grenache rosé.

The event ran from 2 to 6 p.m. and included a visit from A.G. Kawamura, secretary of the state Department of Food and Agriculture.

Contact Craig Koscho at

Reprinted with kind permission from The Calaveras Enterprise