Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Yes There are Wineries in Yuba County and Clos Saron is Well Worth a Visit

“Seriously, wineries in Yuba County?”  Yes, I get that question.

Researching the book “Wineries of the Sierra Foothills” took me more than 8 years.  It was a hard job to hone in on the 21 very special wineries that are featured in the book.  They were chosen due to the Risk-Taking and Rule-­Breaking attributes of these wineries and winemakers. 

There is a lot of terrain to cover, and ten counties qualify for the moniker "Sierra Foothills Wineries", based on their terroir (decomposed granitic soils) and elevations for growing certain kinds of grapes (800 feet).

Those counties are:  Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Madera, Nevada, Placer, Tuolumne, and last but not least, Yuba.   There are 280 wineries in the book’s directory, organized by county.

If you have never considered wine tasting in Yuba, do think again.  The county has a long history of wine grape growing, and there are fine producers there.  I’m fond of Clos Saron, in Oregon House.

Gideon in the Home Vineyard
of Clos Saron
Yuba County, on the Western slope of the Sierra Nevada, has a small number of wineries. Historical accounts note that in 1824 General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo sent an expedition to study a river which had wild grapes growing along its banks (uvas silvestres in Spanish) and thus the name “Uba” was given to the river.   Winemaking started with the Gold Rush but died out during Prohibition.  In the 1970’s, it was revived near Oregon House. The relative isolation of this part of the Sierra Foothills has led many truth-seekers and rugged individualists to farm in this region, and those who entered the vineyard and winery business certainly fit into that category.

Clos Saron and its iconic winemaker, Gideon Bienstock, should be a must-visit on your wine tourism list.  You’ll need to plan your visit to Clos Saron in advance because it is by-appointment-only.

Clos Saron is Gideon’s own family-run vineyard and winery.  He jokes that it is a Ma-and-Pa operation because since it was started in 1998, all family members help in some way.  His teenage sons and his younger daughter as well as their mother Saron are all involved. The approach to their vineyard is organic, with natural soil augmentations from the chickens, rabbits, ducks, geese and sheep they raise on site.  Vines are own-rooted and densely planted, kept free of all chemicals.

Gideon of Clos Saron
Small means big when it comes to the quality of his wines.  Gideon studied winemaking in the Burgundy and Rhone regions of France.   His winemaking style has evolved to be on the extreme side of natural.  “The most fascinating aspect of a wine is its potential evolution,” he says. 

Many of Clos Saron’s wines have what Gideon refers to as a “life span” of 20 years after bottling.  His “Home Vineyard” Pinot Noir is so sought after that customers will fly planes in from places as remote as Texas to stock up before the 50-150 cases produced annually are gone.  This, and the “Texas Hill Road” Pinot Noir are terroir-driven, spicy, minerally and with concentrated flavors.   All of Clos Saron’s wines are limited in production… the Pinot Noir, Syrah, and some non-traditional red blends.  They express all that is wonderful about Clos Saron’s terroir, the family that makes it all happen, and the daily attention to detail.

Clos Saron
9269 Collin House Drive
Oregon House, CA  95962


You can now purchase this book in its on-line store.  $19.95 + CA tax + shipping

No comments:

Post a Comment