Wine flows at the Old Sugar Mill

09/13/2008 5:28 PM

09/13/2008 5:31 PM

Down in the Sacramento Delta, it feels more like a forgotten Rust Belt town than a prime spot for wine sipping.

The outside of the Old Sugar Mill could've come from Billy Joel's "Allentown" video. Massive white mounds of lime are piled near the parking lot, and an adjacent brick building is pockmarked with broken windows.

This once-operational sugar mill is now home base for tasting wine from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The renovated Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg has become something of a food court for Delta wine.

Step inside and you'll find tasting rooms for several wineries: Carvalho Family Wines, Heringer Estates, French Hill, Todd Taylor and Revolution Wines.

Solomon Wine Co., which is headquartered in Modesto, pours three of its labels whose grapes come from the Murphys area.

That's to say you can get a whole lot of sips in a single visit.

The Old Sugar Mill is also a popular location for weddings, and a lawn area out back is good for picnics and the occasional concert.

Inside, the air smells of oak barrels, which are stacked in the background of Heringer Estates' tasting room, and it feels like the temperature has dropped about 20 degrees. The room has a warehouse kind of vibe with brick walls and steel storage tanks.

Service for tasting at Heringer is brisk and friendly.

Carvalho Family Wines is situated at the end of the Old Sugar Mill's hallway. Like Heringer Estates, the service was cheery, and the room looks like a gift shop landed in a brick-walled warehouse. Crackers and water are also available to clear the palate.

The Old Sugar Mill also features some of the smallest pours around — we're talking very modest mouthfuls. With the potential to taste from six wineries, these small pours are likely a strategy so customers don't end up in the Old Drunk Tank. The downside: These dinky drinks make it tough to get a sense of the wine's full bouquet.

The upside of the Old Sugar Mill is that you can get down with some Delta wine without having to spend much time on the winding South River Road.

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