In the lush California Delta, a bridge joins Merritt and Sutter islands near Clarksburg.
Built in the 1850s to house farmers working crops on Merritt Island, Clarksburg is a decidedly polished little spot, compared to its patinated surroundings. The town, 15 miles from Sacramento, lies a whopping 13 or so feet above sea level and has fewer than 500 citizens. With the retro-cozy feel of a bygone era, it’s the kind of place where neighbors have barbecues on front lawns and almost everyone is invited. Not much goes on here, and that’s the point.
A scenic and fun way to get to Clarksburg is to drive to Rio Vista, another Delta town, and take the Real McCoy ferry to Ryer Island. Drive off the ferry and follow East Ryer Road to the J-Mack ferry. (All ferries offer free rides and can accommodate vehicles as big as a small RV.) Then take Grand Island Road and cross the bridge on Highway 160, the Victory Highway. Clarksburg is nine miles north. For a winery map, visit the Clarksburg Wine Growers Association at clarksburgwinegrowers.com. Area code is 916 except as noted.
to do and see
Clarksburg is home to Bogle Vineyards, an award-winning, family-run operation with several vineyards in the area and free tastings. 37783 County Rd. 144, 744-1139, boglewinery.com. Clarksburg’s other big attraction is the Old Sugar Mill. This massive, partially restored brick building from the 1930s houses tasting rooms for eight mostly local wineries and a towering hall reminiscent of San Francisco’s Ferry Building in which local artists sell their crafts. 35265 Willow Ave., 744-1615, oldsugarmill.com. For bike tours of the Delta that start in Clarksburg and include lunch and winetasting, try Fast Eddie Bike Tours. 812-2712, www.fasteddiebiketours.com.
Stop by Husick’s Country Store to pick up picnic supplies before heading to the Old Sugar Mill for winetasting. Built in the 1800s, this café and gourmet grocery store specializes in classic salads, sandwiches⎯such as panini packed with everything from jalapeños to pesto⎯wines, and chocolate-dipped macaroons. 36510 Riverview Dr., 744-1077, husicks.com. Shorty’s La Amistad Café offers inexpensive and tasty Mexican fare like menudo and homemade flour tortillas. It’s worth visiting for the scenic drive alone. 36046 Jefferson Blvd., 744-1346.
There are no accommodations in Clarksburg proper, but Sacramento’s Le Rivage Hotel, rated Four Diamonds by AAA, is an easy 20-minute drive away. With private balconies, in-room Jacuzzis or claw-foot tubs, fireplaces, and patios, the place is less a hotel than a giant full-service spa (face massages and paramedical skin care available) with a luxurious European ambience. 4800 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento, 443-8400, lerivagehotel.com. To find a place to stay, visit AAA.com/hotels.
Photograph by Edward Hakari
This article was first published in March 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
Check out the rest of our Delta package:
Isleton: Crawdads and a historic Old Town
Locke: The Chinese immigrant past
Lodi: 85 wineries—and a reptile museum
Rio Vista: Bird-watching and riverfront dining
Walnut Grove: Man-made beauty and natural splendor