When a door closes…

Ohh, so this is why there were thousands in Murphys!

We were SO excited to return to the small town of Murphys, CA. A charming main street with lots of buildings dating from the gold rush era filled with history and fun shops … oh yeah, and a tasting room or two. As soon as we pulled into town, we noticed throngs of people on the streets, crowds along the sidewalks. Parking is always a bit of a challenge, but we knew there was a multi-acre parking lot a few blocks away from Main Street – which was over capacity. Regretfully, we decided that the weekend was not the best time to come.

We headed south of town, and quickly found Locke Vineyards, which looked quite inviting. They had done a great job on the landscape with lots of lavender plants and a vineyard, and the tasting room fit the locale perfectly. While the wines weren’t a great match for our palates, our hostess was a wealth of information about other wineries and nearby points of interest.

Brice Station Winery

Her first recommendation was Brice Winery and Quyle Kilns pottery studio and workshop.

Brice Winery has quite a unique tasting “room”. In a subsequent conversation with the property owner Pamela Quyle (see below), it turns out that this was originally a bomb/radiation shelter her dad had built back in the late 50’s to early 60’s. She later put on a new front and a shake roof. The wines were generally unremarkable; the Cabernet Sauvignon was okay, and I got the $15 tasting fee waived by buying a bottle, so I called that a win.

The Quyle Kilns pottery studio was quite interesting. We met Pamela, whose parents moved to the family property in 1954. They started the first company in the USA to actually produce clay that could be shipped to potters, due to a technological breakthrough – plastic bags! The bags were originally intended for a turkey farmer to ship his birds. Quyle was the largest clay producing company in America for years; Pamela took over the business from her parents, but had to shut the clay business down a few months ago due to near-zero demand due to COVID. 

Producing the clay is quite the process. First they would travel to the western foot of the Sierra Nevada range where clay had washed down from the mountains over the eons to collect in gigantic deposits. They’d bring the raw clay back to their ranch/farm, and process it to remove sticks, small rocks and vegetative matter by adding water to make a slurry, then using a press that produces 1,000 pounds per square inch to push the slurry through fabric filters to manufacture a clean product. They made four different blends by mixing several clay’s together to make a perfect product for potters.

Quyle Kilns now is the home to several artists, as well as students and instructors, with a large showroom. I bought a mug as a memento of this trip, and Terri got four cool dessert bowls. Next up – Red Apple Fruit Stand.

The Red Apple Fruit Stand

Which we passed by at about 60mph, and had to turn around to get back to. Describing it as dilapidated funky may be just a shade too kind. Nonetheless, it came highly recommended, and we wanted to bring a pie to Martha and Uncle Don the next day; we decided to try a 5” blueberry pie for a taste test. Well, it WAS good, so after much deliberation, we passed up the apple pie for a strawberry/rhubarb pie. (Note: it turned out that apple pie was his favorite, but none of us left any on the plate on our visit).

Adventures completed for the day, we returned to the condo for happy hour on the deck, satisfied that once again we’d found a way to turn lemons into lemonade. Or had we found a window when a door had closed? Cheers!

One thought on “When a door closes…

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