In the midst of farmland, bordered by the Sacramento River, is the town of Clarksburg.
With a Wikipedia verified population of 415, this small town is home to the Old Sugar Mill.
Built in 1935 for sugar milling, the mill shut its doors in 1993. Seven-years later, in 2000, the building was repurposed into an adult’s playground.
Wine playground that is.
The mill is like a corn maze if the corn was made out of brick and every dead end had a winery. In this maze, every direction you take, you win.
Currently there are 13 wineries in the mill – which means you should plan on spending your entire day there.
Life hack: when you visit, pretend you’re with a bachelor or bachelorette party. This way you don’t necessarily have to be on your best behavior if things go south after the third winery you visit (from personal experience, three wineries ends in a shit show). However, most people are understanding if things go south when you’re part of bachelor or bachelorette party.
We’ve all been there.
Because I was tagging along with a bin drop for Heringer fruit, we only had time to visit two wineries.
Here’s a picture of the bin drop with my super-happy Boston Terrier, and my stud-muffin winemaker boyfriend in the background.
Winery Number One – Heringer
In the back of the bar, in the corner of the tasting room, is a special little treat for wine drinkers: a wine slushy.
This 711 charm only enhances the atmosphere with a little nod to childhood optimism in the form of blended-icy goodness. It should be no surprised I forgot which wine the slushy was made out of, but it was cold, red, and delicious.
And that’s what matters.
Our wine host wore French Bulldog leggings and a neighborly smile. As she served us the Malbec, her serious-looking coworker walked towards her.
He didn’t look pleased. And from the third party perspective, he had that “oh shit’s about to go down” look, walk, and demeanor.
She made eye contact with him.
And then he started singing along with Michael Jackson on the radio.
Hands in the air and everything.
Apparently Heringer is synonymous with fun.
Definitely make the Heringer tasting room a must-go if you only have limited time at the Old Sugar Mill.
Great wines. Good vibes. Slushy drink.
Winery Number Two – Seka Hills (There’s an accent over the ‘e’. I still haven’t figured out how to add accents on any typing document. Even though it’s 2017 and, you know, technology.)
We checked out Seka Hills next, because the tasting room was empty, and we wanted to show them some love (plus we weren’t in the mood for an overly crowded tasting room).
And I am so happy we selfishly went against the crowds, because Seka is a gem. The Yocha Dehe Tribe is responsible for the genius behind this wine.
We got a little background from the wine host (who also had a neighborly smile, but unfortunately no French Bulldog leggings), but I did a little more research on their website.
I know. I know. It’s like I’m a professional.
The history and story of their wine is eloquent. Because my own summary would be a disservice, here is an excerpt from their Story:
“…we strive to preserve our language and the legacy of our ancestors, we continue to grow as a people and tend this fertile valley that is home to our culture, history and tradition.”
The wines were excellent in the tasting room.
The more I go wine tasting, and the more my winemaker boyfriend educates me on wine, I have a better understanding as to why wine taste better in tasting rooms:
- The Atmosphere – The lighting, the mood, the smiley hosts. Your impression of the wine is influenced by these .
- You’re Drunk – If you’re out to have a good time, you’re probably gonna get drunk. Which also means you’re drunk brain will like most wines.
- Tasting Menu – The order in which you try wines can influence the taste. Wine #2 may affect the way wine #3 taste. So when you go home and drink wine #3 only, you may find it tasting different on your couch than at the winery.
At home, on the couch, with Sons of Anarchy in the background, the Seka wines still tasted wonderful.
No fancy atmosphere.
No neighborly smiling host.
No other wines influencing the flavors.
Just delicious, elegant wine.
Make time for Seka when you visit the Old Sugar Mill. You won’t regret it.
I give the Old Sugar Mill two hipster kitties. This is because of the old-brick-building-sugar-mill turned boozy destination (a common find among my hipster-millennial generation).
And one kitty per winery we visited. One with the black-rimmed frames and another with a scarf in 80 degree weather.
I’ll add more hipster kitties as I visit more wineries at the Mill. And be sure to plan your visit as well.
Of course, after two wineries and a bin drop, we obviously needed food. And I would imagine you will need to eat as well when you visit. The Old Sugar Mill had a taco truck, but we decided the BBQ restaurant a mile or so away was worth a visit.
Husicks has a ranch-like atmosphere and charming employees. Whether you’re a vegetarian or carnivore, you’ll find something you like at this hometown spot.
I give it a farmer kitty.