If you want to enjoy the slow-paced life of a friendly country town, then stop off of Highway 88 in Lockeford, a community known for its wine, Chinese food and historic sausage shop.
Lockeford can be a great break on a drive to the Sierra Nevada Foothills for skiing or hiking trips. It also can be the destination of a pleasant country drive through rows of vineyards.
The former Gold Rush town came into being due to its proximity to the Mokelumne River. The town was officially named Lockeford in 1860, in honor of the Locke family’s crossing of the Mokelumne River.
One of the key Lockeford attractions for tourists is Vino Piazza, at 12470 Locke Road, an old cement wine co-op from the 1940s that was spruced up and converted into a place for local vineyards to showcase their wines.
As of April, there were four wineries at the location — Pasos Vineyards, Boitano Family Wines, Stama Winery and Stone Garden Vineyard.
Bring some cheese or other food pairings and sit in the rustic courtyard to enjoy a bottle of wine surrounded by waterfalls and Italian music in the background.
“It has that little village, European flair,” Pasos owner Antonio Pasos said.
At his winery, Pasos will introduce you to his favorite creations, such as his signature blend called the Reserve Dastarte that is a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec.
“It’s a nice spot where you can hit three to four wineries in one day. You don’t have to drive,” he said.
Stop in at the art gallery above the tasting room, where David Jon Foster is often working on his paintings of watercolor on canvas. He also painted all of the wine labels for the winery.
You can also walk back into Vino Piazza to Stama Winery, located in the old boiler room of the co-op. The winery’s grapes go all the way back to Greece. The owner, Konstantino Kapiniaris, started purchasing grapes in the Lockeford area in 1987, and now owns 210 acres.
His wines have names like The Nymph, a Cabernet, and the Zany Zin.
“What I think is really great about this area is you can taste varietals across the board, and some varietals you’ve never heard of,” tasting room and events manager Victoria Pouchés.
Once you are done drinking, head to Lockeford Sausage, at 19775 N. Cotton St. It is an institution in the area in a small wooden building right along Highway 88, distinguished by the large pink pig hanging from the building. The second you walk in the door, you are hit with an aroma reminiscent of breakfast.
Pick up some marinated tri-tip, Cajun andouille sausage for gumbo, chorizo or specialty sausages like the Smoked Dakota Brat or the Hawaiian Luau.
If you are looking for more of a meal, then head to Payless Market, a grocery store also on Highway 88. In the back of the store to the right is a full-fledged Chinese takeout place with large containers full of orange chicken, chow mein or Mongolian Beef and fried rice. The portions are huge, the prices are cheap and the food is delicious and filling.