Highway 49--Gold Rush Country
Cooper Vineyards 21365 Shenandoah School Rd., (209) 245-6181. Tasting F-Sun 11-5. Plenty of old-time bouncer chairs invite lingering a while on the front porch of the tasting room here. Inside, owner Dick Cooper’s fully-restored 1937 Junior Scout red Indian motorcycle adds some pizzazz. Sampling at the polished granite counter includes the range of the house gems—a classic, smooth Barbera, a Zinfandel made from 25-year-old vines, a Spanish-style Tempranillo, a delightful Primitivo (Zin’s genetic twin), a crisp Pino Grigio, and a Port-style dessert Zinfandel. Once planted with French prunes, the property now has rows of vines that are on their way to becoming biodynamic with the help of 42 free-range chickens and three roosters. The motto here is “We are grape growers first, wine makers second.” Since owner Dick Cooper is referred to as the Godfather of Barbera, it is appropriate that the first-ever Barbera Festival was held here in June 2011.
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image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers