They say you never forget your first. Well, Tanner Vineyards was my first foothill winery experience and I certainly will never forget it. The wine is really good, no matter what color wine you try, and the atmosphere was really inviting. It was a life changing stop, as I moved to the Sierra foothill region a few years later thanks to the great wine and how just plain beautiful it is out here. But let me back up a bit and tell you more about how I got there.

There is this small town in the Calaveras County area of the Sierra foothills called Murphys. I’d been hearing about the area from my friend group for a while, but more in relation to the gorgeous landscape, hiking, redwoods and mountains. I love that stuff, but when I visited there my first thought was “how did they not mention the wine? Do they even know me?” Seriously, at the time, Murphys had 23 wine tasting rooms on a stretch of Main St. that’s probably less than a half mile long. Now that’s my kind of place! And these are not pretentious, dress up and talk bouquet and legs wine rooms, there are chill and fun spaces where you can go in and tell the pourers you like reds and don’t like to pucker and they will match you with some wines to taste.

Murphy’s itself is really a charming old gold rush town. At one end of the downtown area is Murphys Hotel, which has been around since 1856. It has a great bar and restaurant – the bar structure is original and as old as the hotel. If you look hard enough you can probably find bullet holes from the old gold mining days! But I digress. Just across from the Murphys Hotel is the Tanner Vineyards tasting room, and that’s where my foothills wine journey began.

Let’s start with the look and feel upon entering the tasting room. On a casual scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being snobbish and 10 being shabby, Tanner is in the perfect sweet spot of a 6. Not even close to snobbish, and certainly not shabby, it is casual and relaxed with a really friendly staff. It has the classic gold country decor – a bit of polished up old west – that is typical in the foothills region.Tanner Vineyards tasting room

It’s rare to like every wine you taste at any wine tasting. After all – wine making is a complex mix of science, creativity and style. It starts with the type of grapes used, how vineyard irrigation is managed and the weather, and ends with how long the wine has aged in a barrel, barrel type, fermentation method, how long it’s been in the bottle or open. It’s not simple (and a topic for a future blog). But I found Tanner wines to be delicious across the board, no matter what color. As my brother in law Bill would say, not a clunker in the bunch. That’s made Tanner my go-to gifting wine, and I bring a bottle wherever I am invited to dinner, and I have plenty to give because I am a happy wine club member.

Tanner is truly a family winery. Founded in the mid-1800s by Angelo Sciaccaluga, who was the first licensed winemaker in Calaveras County, California, Tanner is now operated by his great grandchildren, Dick and Ron, along with their wives and families. In the tasting room, you are likely to run across Mary Tanner, Ron’s daughter and wine room/wine club manager. I’m a regular there and it’s kind of like Norm walking into Chhers – I get big smiles and big greetings. I visit quarterly for my wine club shipment and rarely leave with only my allocated wines; it’s usually at least two additional bottles.

As a wine club member I get invited to their annual members dinner. I’ve only attended once, and it was a great experience. It was there that I was first introduced to my new favorite wine varietal, Mourvedre. If you like red colored wine you need to try this one! It’s like a more complex yet still a bit fruity Pinot noir, and lighter than a Cabernet Sauvignon. Very drinkable with no need for a food pairing, making it a perfect winter fireside (or anytime, really) wine. I also spent some quality time with both Dick and Ron, hearing about the family and the wine business. I also made a wine club pickup, grabbing three extra bottles of Mourvedre. Dick Tanner is such a gracious gentleman, he insisted on carrying my wine out to my car. When does stuff like that happen in Napa! Love this family and their wines.

Tanner Vineyards
Address 435 Main St., Murphy’s CA, 95247
Contact info (209) 728-8229 or email wine@tannervineyards.com
Hours Mon | Thurs & Fri 12-5PM
Sat 11-5:30PM
Sun 11-5PM
Closed Tues & Wed
Reservations required? Recomended, especially in the summer when Murphy’s gets very busy
Tasting fee $15.00, one fee waived with each bottle purchased. Free tastings for club members plus up to 3 guests
Food available No
Pet friendly Yes, my dogs love it there!
Other notes Nice shaded outdoor patio to ecape the heat in the summer.