Month: May 2016

The Tipsy Frog Wine Bar

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I normally don’t write about wine bars, but this is really a standout gem located in the New Town Square of Copperopolis. Donna Iaquinto and Karl Dahlin have combined to offer a unique experience to the community and those passing by. While the underlying intent may be to showcase wines from Calaveras County, they offer wines from “around the world”. On the day I was there, besides the Calaveras wines like Hatcher, Coppermine, Lavender Ridge, they offered wines from Argentina (Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon) and Sonoma (Cabernet Sauvignon).. They also sell what is being tasted, be it local, Sonoma, Napa, Argentina, Australia, France, etc.


Their basic varietals for white are: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc and Chardonnay. Their reds include Grenache, GSM, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Primativo, Barbera, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Shiraz, Mourvedre, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. In addition, they do have some “off dry/sweet wines” like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Port, etc., along with Sparkling wines. With such a variety of wines in one location, you are sure to find a delicious glass to make a memorable experience.

Another solid marketing plan is to hold “fun events” like pizza night, exotic cheeses and the like to get folks to stop by. While I was there a person booked a large private party for Thursday (today) for their pizza night.


Donna and Karl are also providing educational events like “Introduction to the Wines of France” to be held June 10th 5:30 – 8 pm. Lindsay Gwin, Sommelier based in Murphy’s, will be conducting the class. Key for Donna is offering food pairings to go with the wines served.

And finally who could not like their mascot/logo, indigenous to the draw of Calaveras County and Mark Twain.


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Mountain Terraces Vineyard

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Mountain Terraces Vineyard is another project by Steve Ledson in Sonoma of Ledson Winery fame. Unique about this property besides having 125 acres on the slope of the Mayacama’s, is it unique terraces ranging from 2200 feet elevation cascading down the hillside to 600 feet.


This aerial picture was taken by Jerry Padilla, assistant winemaker at Ledson Winery in March 2016 shows this beautiful piece of real estate.

I had the privilege to be invited in March 2015 as this is a private working estate. You can see in comparison of the hillside picture verses a year later. The views from this facility are unique as the terroir.


One of the first noticeable features is the “rockiness” of the soil. This soil was made for struggling vines and shows in the making of their two distinct Cabernet Sauvignon’s. The first is “Lex’s” which is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, which is big, dark fruit and complex tannins. In my opinion one of the best coming out of Sonoma. The second is their “Taylor’s” which is more in the Bordeaux style with a mellower presentation and softer tannins. Both are excellent. They both are resting comfortably in my cellar today. The wines are aged 24-30 months in French barrels and once racked allowed to settle for 12 months.


The presentation and discussion of the wines by Jerry was spot on and a few friends from Ireland thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

If you are ever fortunate enough to be invited, do not hesitate as the wines, views, presentation and terraces are extremely comparable – all being top tier! In the interim you can order the wines on line.


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Porter Creek

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One of the major tributaries feeding into the Russian River is Porter Creek. Adjacent, is the Porter Creek Winery operated by Alex Davis (son and winemaker) and his father (George). This vineyard is organic and seeking biodynamic status on their 20 acre estate. Alex prefers to develop a Burgundian styles of wine varietals with natural fermentation process on the sloped hillsides of the estate.


 The operation is truly a family run business and lacking all the “corporate pizazz” from the down home style of the tasting room to the moderately priced wines. The wines are truly for purchasing and enjoying not to be shoved into a dark cellar. There is a wholesomeness and honesty that exudes from these wines.


On the day I was there, two wines stood out. First the 2013 George’s Hill Chardonnay with a lemony note, with a hint of pear with some subtle minerality. The second wine was the 2012 Pinot Noir Hillside Vineyard. This was from one of the older vineyards, which yields very low tonnage of grapes (1 to 1 ½ per acre). The wine was complex and extremely dense both in color and taste.

If you want to experience a “down home family winery” without the modern glitter and showiness, yet with very good wines, look no further than Porter Creek for a wonderful experience.


****Don’t forget the article on unique offers from three wineries as the time frame to “collect” will expire.****

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