Wine Week preview

North Sierra Wine Trail provides a glimpse at our fruitful region; plus, Lulus set to expand.

I try to take advantage of any opportunity I can to get out of Chico and explore some of the smaller nearby cities and towns and discover new getaways. So, a couple of weeks ago, I jumped at the chance to head south for the North Sierra Wine Trail.

As I’d traveled the trail before—some five or so years ago—as well as the Sierra Oro Farm Trail, which includes some of the same stops, I already was somewhat familiar with a few of the wineries taking part in the festivities. So, in planning my adventure, I chose to start in Oregon House, at the Frenchtown Inn—one of the farthest locations on the trail and one I’d never been to.

Turns out, the inn was a good place to begin, as multiple area wineries were pouring there, including my favorite of the day, Renaissance Vineyard & Winery. (All of their selections were top-notch, but the best—and the one I purchased—was a 2012 Cabernet reserve.) The folks pouring expounded on the terroir in Renaissance wines. That’s partially due to the Sierra foothills winery’s low-yield farming practices that infuse the grapes with the flavor and nutrients from the earth.

My other purchase of the day happened at the inn as well, as the fabulous Apollo Olive Oil folks were also on-hand. The oils have a similarly distinct terroir—they also are farmed at the Renaissance estate—but I’d been craving Appollo’s sweet yet full-bodied Balsamic Condiment. It’s sweet, tangy and truly unique—and only available directly through the company (

From there, I visited a few additonal locations—Lucero Vineyards & Winery in Dobbins, and Bangor Ranch Vineyard and Winery and Spencer-Shirey Wines in Bangor. I was disappointed to learn that several spots on the map, including the Renaissance estate, weren’t actually open that weekend and instead were pouring elsewhere. That, plus an infuriating drive through Dobbins due to my GPS sending me to the wrong place, rendered me out of time to hit any other spots.

Lucero was notable for its tasting-room food and delightful covered patio, Spencer-Shirey for its wine-food pairings, and Bangor Ranch for its impressive grounds. They’re all worth a visit—and they’ve all been invited to participate in Butte County Wine Week next month, June 7-16. Speaking of, any area wineries, restaurants, bars and retailers that wish to list an event in the Chico News & Review’s Wine Week calendar should go to for more info. Hope to see all you wine lovers then!

Expansion time One of Chico’s biggest companies, Lulus, is getting even bigger. The online fashion retailer announced last month that it’s opening a 250,000-square-foot warehouse in Palmer Township, Penn. It plans to hire hundreds of employees at the new facility, which will help improve shipping times to customers on the East Coast. Congrats!