Imagine a gorgeous spring weekend in Lincoln with temperatures holding in the high 70s and a blue sky.
It would be a perfect day to pack a picnic lunch and hit the Lincoln wine trail for tastings and a nice change of scenery.
A Lincoln wine trail?
Yes, as of February, Lincoln has become a winery destination with three vineyards.
Rancho Roble Vineyards opened over a decade ago at 340 Fleming Road. Wise Villa Winery opened a few years ago at 4100 Wise Road. River Rock Ranch Lindemann Winery opened Feb. 2 at 6024 Prairie Way and will hold a grand opening from noon to 5 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday.
“I think three wineries make a city a wine destination,” said Jocelyn Maddux, the Placer County Vintners Association’s marketing committee chairwoman. “People usually go to three or four in a day.”
And while Lincoln wineries, and the other approximately 24 wineries in Placer County, do not yet have the name recognition of Napa Valley or Amador County wineries, they are working hard on that goal.
“Here, we think the wineries are a lot better. You often get to meet the winemaker and the owner,” Maddux said. “You get a more intimate experience. It’s more down-to-earth.”
Plus the county’s current vineyards, which are at most a decade old, are maturing so the quality has improved, according to Maddux.
“You can get wine that is just as good, or even better, than any other California wine region,” Maddux said. “The great thing about California, and Placer County in general, is anything grows well here. The roots of this county are farming.”
The Placer County foothills hosted “hundreds” of vineyards in pre-Prohibition times, according to Maddux. But the vineyards were torn up and replaced with fruit orchards due to Prohibition times.
“Ten years ago, wineries took off again here on a commercial basis,” Maddux said. “We’re the baby, among the last counties to bring it back. But it was always here before it existed in other counties.”
What’s needed now, for Placer County to join the ranks of the more visited winery destinations is word of mouth by area residents.
“We’re definitely getting there. We’re small wineries so we don’t have the big budgets to do traditional advertising,” Maddux said. “A lot of people in our backyards don’t know there are wineries in our area and in Lincoln.”
But it’s in all of our best interests to let out-of-town friends know about the three local wineries.
“The more our industry can grow, the more the residual benefits to economic development will grow as well,” Maddux said. “The wineries being a destination mean more than wine tasting. The historical part of shopping and dining can be part of that destination. We currently partner with local restaurants on our wine map, Old Town Pizza for example. We promote each other. We always have the opportunity in the tasting room to say we recommend this place for dinner.”
The vintners association’s map can be found at Placerwine.com, which also includes information on each winery.
That sense of cooperation and promotion between wineries and other local businesses is what River Rock Ranch Lindemann Winery owner Austin Lindemann hopes to bring to Lincoln.
“Wednesday, I hope to visit Holiday Inn and coordinate with Lincoln restaurants for websites; I’ll put them on my website and they put me on theirs,” Lindemann said. “Visitors can see where to go to eat, what to do for entertainment in Lincoln. I’m promoting the area as much as I can and hopefully the area will promote me.”
It’s all about attracting visitors to Lincoln to boost the local economy.
“The wineries help Lincoln by making it a destination area,” Lindemann said. “People will come to Lincoln not just for the town but for the wineries.”
Lindemann encourages wine aficionados to visit his venue as well as the two other Lincoln wineries.
“I would recommend the two other Lincoln wineries,” Lindemann said. “They’re good. Mark Adams of Rancho Roble has been my mentor for everything. He told me how to produce, how to start up; he showed my daughters the bookkeeping and gave us his ‘secrets.’”
If the winemakers are helping each other, Lincoln residents should be able to do the same. It’s an easy way to spend a nice spring day in town.