Today, we're headed to Clarksburg here on Kitchen Travels. Clarksburg? Where are the recipes? The food photos? Well, the name of this blog is Kitchen Travels, after all. But not to worry, my fine foodie friends. We will return to our regularly scheduled recipe-centric programming momentarily. In the meantime, I hope you'll enjoy this post about a little day trip we took to the wine country recently.*
No, not the wine country made famous by a certain indie film a few years back. (That one is much too far from us for a day trip.) And no, not either of the other two vineyard-filled valleys you probably have in mind (although both are wonderful in their own right, and a fairly easy day trip from our town, as well). The wine country I'm talking about is a miniature, less "Hollywood" version of California's more celebrated wine country areas.
There are several local vineyards just a hop, skip and a jump from Sacramento. In the past we've traveled to wineries in Amador County and around Apple Hill. But on this particular weekend, we decided to visit Bogle Vineyards in Clarksburg.
We've been enjoying visits to Bogle for a few years now. In addition to having some very appealing wines (at very reasonable prices), Bogle has several distinct advantages over its more famous brethren to the west and south. To wit:
Proximity. Through the small town of Freeport (population: 125) and over the Sacramento River, Bogle and the town of Clarksburg are less than a thirty minute drive from California's capitol city.
Lack of pretension. Bogle is a family-owned winery, and on any given day, at least one member of the Bogle family will be there to greet you, pour a few generous glugs of wine, and chat about the offerings in the sunny tasting room. More often than not, they'll have put out brie and crackers for the visitors to munch on - something that would almost never happen in Napa or Sonoma (heaven forbid that anything come between your taste buds and the flavors of their chosen vintage). The vibe here is laid-back, dressed-down, relaxed, welcoming.
No crowds! No tour buses, no swarms of people, no circling the parking lot for a spot or waiting in line for a taste. No crowds.
Family friendly. I know it seems disingenuous to include winery and family friendly in the same sentence, but it's true. Overlooking the vineyards behind the main building there is a large, lush, grass-covered picnic area with shade trees. So while the little ones run up and down the rows between the vines, or in and out of the natural fort formed by a gigantic evergreen tree, mom and dad can relax on a blanket or one of several tables scattered across the lawn. Bogle will pass out heart-shaped crackers to your kids in the tasting room, before loaning you real wine glasses if you'd like to enjoy a little sip with your lunch. Forgot your picnic basket? No problem. Look for the tiny refrigerator case in the tasting room, where you'll find a limited selection of bottled waters, sparkling apple cider, salami and cheese.
Bogle on its own is reason enough to visit Clarksburg, but there's more. Our family got a late start on this particular day, so we didn't head out until after noon. (Instead of bringing a picnic, we brought homemade cookies to decorate at the vineyard.) But the next time around, we plan to leave earlier, and also give ourselves a few extra minutes before hitting the winery to stop at Husick's Country Store in Clarksburg.
Located right on the main road into town, Husick's has a polished, homey charm that drew me in from the moment I peeked in the door. Everywhere I turned, I saw something I wanted to bring home. From its thoughtful collection of cookbooks to its artfully stacked pyramids of leaf-green lunch boxes, Husick's is a thoroughly engaging establishment that wouldn't be out of place in swank Sonoma or trendy Healdsburg.
In addition to hand-crafted furniture, linens, jams and condiments, Husick's has a great-looking menu of gourmet sandwiches and fresh salads. And did you see the list of upcoming events? You really can't help but warm to a place that hosts cooking classes for only $20 a pop.
And for those of you who were hoping for a recipe, here you go:
Wine Country Day Trip
family, friends, lovers
vehicle (automobile, motorcycle, boat, horse & buggy... it's up to you)
sunshine (although a few clouds never hurt anyone)
sense of adventure
optional: picnic lunch, blanket, Nerf football, bubbles
Round up the kids, a few friends, or your current crush, and pack into the vehicle of your choice. If using optional ingredients, bring those along, as well.
Choose a designated driver. Take a leisurely drive along the river to Clarksburg. Stop at Husick's. At this point in the recipe, you have some options before proceeding to the next step.
1. Order up a bite, take a load off at one of their indoor tables, or park yourself in the shade on their patio or front porch. Alternatively, let them pack your lunch to go... and enjoy it on the green at Bogle.
2. If you've brought your own lunch, spend a few minutes to simply browse Husick's lovely selection of dry goods and chat with one of the friendly proprietors. Purchases are optional, but encouraged (you'll thank me later).
Continue on along the river to Bogle. Pick a spot, and if you like, a bottle or two of wine. Eat, drink, and be merry. Breath in, breath out. Repeat as necessary. Makes one day trip that lasts several hours, and countless memories that last indefinitely.
37783 Road 144, Clarksburg, CA 95612
Tel 916.744.1139 Fax 916.744.1187
Tasting Room hours: M-F 10am - 5pm, Sat-Sun 11am - 5pm (closed major holidays)
Husick's Country Store
36510 Riverview Drive, Clarksburg, CA 95612
Open Tues-Sun 10am - 4pm (closed Mondays and holidays)
*You may remember that I really don't do alcohol any more. I love wine, but it doesn't like me so much, unfortunately. Still, even if I can't sip much wine, I can drink in the beautiful settings surrounding most wineries. Cheers!