If you’re visiting Yosemite on your next trip to California (which you should be, this is bucket list stuff) then schedule a stop off in Mariposa. Just under an hour from the West Gate of the park, this little place is perfect for familiarising yourself with life up in the mountainous eastern edge of California.
More than a convenient spot to break up the journey, Mariposa is a little town that you feel has probably preserved the same approachability for all the years it’s been a dwelling place. It’s the kind of place where you’ll rub shoulders with the sheriff in a local bar and where people smile with ease, genuinely pleased to see you. But this is not a small town stuck in time; its authenticity is matched by the zest for life of its inhabitants. On a recent stop off here, we stumbled across a hip watering hole called Mariposa Alley, a small boutique wine bar serving delicious local tipples and artisan food. It favours wine from all around the state but with a focus on the stuff that comes from vineyards nestled in the rich, fertile valleys nearby. Mariposa is ideally positioned in the Sierra foothills, so grapes in the area benefit from long, hot summer days and much cooler nights, which helps create top notch wine.
Satisfying thirsty residents and visitors alike, The Alley dutifully selects the finest local wines; and one such featured vineyard is Butterfly Creek Winery. It was established in 1972 with 200 acres of fine vines, and is still family run today, epitomising the ethos of wine growing in California – laid back, but with a whole load of love and tradition poured into it. Others to note are Silver Fox, Mount Bullion and Ciera Wine Cellars.
But as we say, this is a rustic town that moves with the times – so if wine’s not your thing, you can sample some Mariposa-brewed ale. The craft beer scene here is small but perfectly formed, with Yosemite Alewerks and Prospectors as the two leading breweries producing a variety of delicious beers to suit all tastes.
What looks like a pretty little town that you could easily just pass though, is actually home to some of the friendliest and most talented tipple-makers around. We’ll raise a glass to that.