Downtown Murphys is known as “The Queen of the Sierra” and has over 20 tasting rooms, alongside boutiques, antiques and culinary treats surrounding Main Street in the heart of downtown, all in walking distance, making it a popular destination for locals and travelers alike.
According to Michelle Plotnik with the Murphys Business Association, there is a population of approximately 2,200 in Murphys, but the small town is constantly bustling with visitors who hit the small town on a regular basis especially being only an hour from Lodi, Stockton, an hour and half from Merced and Yosemite and a few hours from Sacramento, Napa, and San Francisco.
Murphys is a Gold Rush town that offers recreation in all four seasons with the lakes, reservoirs, caves, mountain sports, golf and hiking. Although fires have destroyed buildings over the years, Murphys has retained its history with a few historic buildings that remain and a few that have been rebuilt.
“Most of them are still currently in use including the Historic Murphys Hotel,” stated Plotnik. “Many are now housing retail shops, tasting rooms, and vacation rentals. Murphys is named for the Murphys Brothers who operated a mining supply business during the gold rush in what was then called Murphys Camp. These days our wine industry is the big draw for many visitors.”
There are some specialty food shops including a spice shop called The Spice Tin, and an olive oil tasting bar called Marisolio Tasting Bar. Walking down Main Street there are unique shops like Moon Alley Candles, Moss & Rust, Murphys Treasures, Calaveras Natural Creations gift boutique, the Man Cave, Best Friends Consignment, Books on Main, Murphys Motorcycle Company, and Sierra Nevada Adventure Co to name a few. Another stop for the family especially during the warmer days is JoMa’s Artisan Ice Cream and then maybe a stop into Nelson’s Candies to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Plotnik noted that Ironstone Vineyards is the largest winery in the area and home to a 49-pound large crystalline gold nugget, a museum, and beautiful grounds filled with a blanket of colorful daffodils in the spring.
The list of wineries and tasting rooms is long with the diverse varietals found in the Sierra Foothills many are handcrafted small batch wines produced by family owned and operated wineries right in downtown. Some of those wineries are Black Sheep Winery, Coppermine Winery, Four Winds Cellars, Frogs Tooth Winery, Jazz Cellars, Indian Rock Vineyards, Milliaire Winery, Newsome Harlow, Stevenot Winery, Tanner Vineyards and Winery, Twisted Oak Tasting Room, and Villa Vallecito Vineyards which is only a small portion of the wine offerings downtown.
Pop the Bubbly is a Champagne tasting bar that also offers beer, wine, lunch and appetizers that is at the end of Main in the historic Thompson building with the E.C.V. Wall of Comparative Ovations.
Lavender Ridge Vineyard offers wine tasting, artisan cheese, and lavender products that exudes an aromatic calming scent prior to approaching the stone historic Old Segale Building.
“The Hovey Winery is housed in a historic building that was once the home of Albert Michaelson, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics,” added Plotnik. “I believe Brice Station has some of the highest elevation vineyards in the state. All of our wineries have something special to offer. They are family owned and we hear all the time about just how friendly Murphys is as a whole.”
For those that may not be that fond of wine there are a number of craft and specialty beer spots like the Irish Pub on Main Street, Murphys Pour House, and the Watering Hole on Big Trees Road.
With shamrocks painted in the middle of Main Street it is no surprise that one of the popular annual events held downtown is Murphys Irish Day. A few other events that draw people to the small town is President’s Wine Weekend, Muphys Homecoming, Calaveras Grape Stomp, Murphys Dia de Los Muertos, and Murphys Open House.
“We close down Main Street for several of those events, invite entertainers and vendors, and even host home town style parades for Irish Day and Open House,” said Plotnik. “Murphys has become a very popular destination year-round but we still hear that some people are unaware that we have a historic downtown and drive right past us on Highway 4 thinking we are just gas stations, grocery stores, and an ATM.”
The live music with big stars at Ironstone or the local talent that can be seen at the wineries or the tree-filled park that has a creek running through it for smaller events like the First Friday Live Music Series hosted by Murphys Community Club in the summer and fall bring entertainment to downtown.
With all the walking through downtown and the wine tasting there are several restaurants on Main Street like Alchemy Café, Grounds Restaurant, Murphys Grille, Tipsy Frog Wine Bar, and V Restaurant Bar & Bistro to find edible delights.
The listing of restaurants and tasting rooms along with more information can be found at visitmurphys.com and calaveraswines.org websites.