Mariposa County is the southern most county in the Sierra Foothills wine growing region. There are merely 4 bonded wineries in the entire county! We are used to visiting the heart of California’s wine region, Sonoma and Napa counties and seeing literally hundreds of wineries in each county. As a result, visiting Mariposa County for wine tasting is relatively easy as far as making choices of who to visit is concerned. Why not visit them all in a day or two!?
Note that all of the wines we tried from these Mariposa based wineries are extremely reasonably priced. You can buy cases of wine for less than what you would spend in Napa for a single bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. You are always meeting with the owners and vintners when you visit the winery. There are no big wineries, tasting rooms, crowds or fancy marketing. This is *not* Napa or even close. As a result, a visit to Mariposa’s fledgling wine country is uniquely refreshing.
All of the wineries listed below require appointments – we have either tasted the wines or visited the winery for all of these. These are wineries you do not just stumble into – be sure to get directions ahead of time when making your appointment as all are “off the beaten path”. All these wineries have very small productions.
The soils in this part of the country are rocky and are hillside. The vineyard elevations typically range from 2000 feet up to 3200 feet. The two photos above are from Butterfly Creek Winery.
Butterfly Creek Winery is the oldest (by far) of the 4 wineries currently operating in Mariposa County. Their property was purchased in 1972 and grapes were planted later with their first vintages released in the early 1980’s. The winery is owned by Bob Gerken and his wife. They produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, a white Merlot, a Sauvignon Blanc (sourced and made in Sonoma County), and have plans to produce a Riesling from vineyards on site (there are not many white varietals planted in Mariposa County due to the hot summer months but Riesling is a white varietal that can take some heat). The tasting room is small with a nice gift shop featuring local products including some wonderful tasting canned pickles (from one of their neighbors). There is a small chapel on the hillside above the winery. Due to their private location and setup, this is a perfect spot for a picnic.
They are located off of Triangle Road which is off of Highway 141 about 15 minutes north and east of the town of Mariposa. Visit: www.yosemitewine.com
Chappell Winery & Vineyards is owned by Doug & Kathy Chapell (both former teachers) with their vineyards and winery located not far from Butterfly Creek (off of Highway 140). While you can make an appointment to taste at the winery, you can also taste without an appointment at their downtown Mariposa tasting room. Our favorite of their wines is the Grenache. Their vineyards are at about 3200 feet making this one of California’s highest vineyards. Visit: www.chappellwinery.com
Mount Bullion Vineyards is owned by Kris & Harold Casto; Kris is a former Mayor of Los Altos in the San Francisco Bay Area. She had been visiting the Sierra Foothills for many years until making the jump to living here full time, growing grapes and then finally building a winery. This winery is known for its Zinfandel and we can concur after tasting several of her wines. Zinfandel is a varietal that does well here. These wines are affordably priced and a pleasure to drink. Like dessert? Be sure and try their Zinfandel port. Their vineyards are located on Mt. Bullion (which you can see from the town of Mariposa). Visit: www.mtbullionvineyard.com
Silver Fox Vineyards is owned by Karen and Marvin Silver and is one of the older wineries in Mariposa County having been founded in 1989. They own their vineyards and also source fruit from other Mariposa County growers. Try the Sierra Cuve – this was our favorite. Visit: www.silverfoxwine.com