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Calaveras County terroir with a twist: California’s Gold Country yields hyper-local craft spirits

Calaveras County, California, where the terroir now comes with a twist.
Jim Shubin
Calaveras County, California, where the terroir now comes with a twist.

How does a former Tesla employee who has moved to California’s Gold Country make use of what he learned in high-tech to partner with local farmers? Hint: It’s all about the terroir. We know about the importance of soil, climate, and sunlight in giving wine its distinctive character. But now Gold Country terroir is showing up with a twist—in spirits such as gin, vodka, and whisky.

Join associate producer and host, Laurie McAndish King for an informative conversation with distiller Nate Randall in Calaveras County, California.

Nate and his wife, Bonnie, live in the small town of Arnold where they distill California wines, then infuse the resulting spirits with locally sourced botanicals such as juniper, gooseberries, elderflower and other native flora from the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Nate and Bonnie love living here. The elevation here is 4,000 feet, the population is under 2,500, and the Internet is fast. Big Trees State Park—with its giant sequoias—is right up the road.

Ten miles down Highway 4 is Murphys, a classic Gold Country town that’s full of history. Murphys offers an array of local dining options and there’s no shortage of activities, including snowshoeing, skiing, and sledding in winter; fishing and hiking in the summer; and wine-tasting all year round.

Funding for Journeys of Discovery provided by Nashville's Big Back Yard economic initiative focused on rural communities in the southwest quarter of Tennessee and the Shoals Region of Northern Alabama.

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryiHeartRadioApple Podcast.

Laurie McAndish King is an award-winning travel writer and photographer who has been interviewing fascinating people since 2007. Her work focuses on nature, culture, and cuisine. King's true stories cover 20-foot-long Australian earthworms, a journey to taste the world’s best coffee in Bali, and an Ivy League astrophysicist’s explanation of how flying saucers are powered. Her three collections of travel stories—poignant, insightful and often quite funny—have inspired and entertained readers since 2014.
Tom Wilmer produces on-air content for Issues & Ideas airing over KCBX and is producer and host of the six-time Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Recorded live on-location across America and around the world, the podcasts feature the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts--everything from baseball to exploring South Pacific atolls to interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic.