Oroville’s wine scene thrives

A visit to Live Vine for wine and cider; Butte County Wine Co. adds champagne brunch; plus, Miner’s Alley gets a new owner

With Butte County Wine Week starting tomorrow (June 7), it seemed a fitting time to check in on what our local wineries are up to. We highlighted a handful of them in our cover package (see page 18), and as I was sniffing around for other wine-related bits of news, I discovered a new offering from the folks at Live Vine Vineyard & Winery: cider.

It seemed like a perfect reason to visit the estate, which overlooks the Lake Oroville Afterbay, and sit down with owners Shawn and Susan Smith. As a fun bonus, Shawn gave me a tour of the vineyard, which includes a variety of grapes, from syrah and zinfandel to viognier and grenache.

One of the more unique offerings I found in their tasting room was a viognier-syrah blend, which Susan characterized perfectly as being a bit “peppery.” They also have a few rosés—a syrah and a grenache. My favorite of those that I tasted was also their best-seller: the Euphoria blend of syrah, barbera and zinfandel. Fruity and perfectly smooth.

The couple recently launched Smith House Cider, which I also got a chance to try. It’s crisp and fresh—not at all sweet. Shawn told me they also make a Hopped Up Viking mead. Both are a way to keep busy during the off-season. The Smiths also are hard at work setting up a new winery/tasting room, as their current spot—which they opened in 2017—is at their home. It’s just around the corner from them, so they can go back and forth on a golf cart. I wish them luck!

Other O-town news While I was in Oroville, I figured I’d check in on a few other places I hadn’t been to in a while. First up, Butte County Wine Co., which happens to serve Live Vine wines and Smith House Cider (along with a ton of other local beverages). The place was hopping, which is always a good sign, and I learned they’re now serving champagne brunch on weekends and hope to launch an appetizer menu soon.

From there, I moseyed around the corner to Miner’s Alley Brewing Co., which also has an impressive local wine list (in fact, they serve only local wines). I chatted briefly with the bartender, who informed me that the place had just been sold—to Brian Wong, owner of Tong Fong Low. We should expect a few changes there in the coming months.

RUMOR HAS IT I’ve seen some hubbub on social media lamenting the closure of the Winchester Goose. At first, I dismissed the rumor, as I knew the bar was planning to move across the street. Upon further investigation, however, it appears the Goose may, in fact, be a thing of the past. Do not fear, however: A little birdie tells me the old Goose won’t be empty long—I hear there are plans to reopen that space as The Bank Club, an ode to a business that resided there years ago. Stay tuned for details as I get them.