Driven Cellars

Published March 29, 2014

Driven Cellars

If you could channel the past lives of a wine tasting room in gold country California, I’m sure you’d be amused. Between the buildings of former brothels, various jail cells, and gold mines underneath, anyone could spin a wicked story. But none so true as the one where Driven Cellars now pours fab juice.

During the thriving days of California’s gold rush, many men traveled to these parts in search of a dream. Whether that dream panned out or not, those men needed comfort and sustenance. So, most of these little gold rush towns contained hotels, saloons, and brothels– the trifecta of happiness. What’s interesting about Sutter Creek’s brothel is that it was across Main Street from the hotel where many gold rush enthusiasts stayed. To avoid being seen walking into the saloon or brothel, men used a trap door in the sidewalk to cross the street and enter privately through an underground tunnel.

After safe passage into the saloon, they could have a drink and enter a small viewing room or parlor adjacent to he bar where they viewed various women and selected a fitting companion.  The new tasting room for Driven Cellars still has the other end of that trap door entrance. The rest has been blocked off to protect pedestrians and pets. But, they still have the parlor room… only now it is more like a comfy wine lounge. But I’m sure men still view other women for companionship while sipping a tasty bevie.

Driven Cellars is in a spot to watch not only because they are in a historic building but also they plan to serve food and offer patio seating. They also have a lively selection of crisp refreshing whites and big bold reds. Our fave of the day was a Primitivo with the tart red cherry flavors but thick plum body that balances out this grape’s pronounced acidity. It is their most popular red and one that makes the trip worth a visit, even if you already have companionship for the night.

More from my month in this region.


  1. Hello______ (drinkthosewords):
    Although neither of us got your name, we enjoyed our meeting in Paso Robles, and did make it to the Asuncion Ridge tasting room, where the Pinot Noir you recommended was indeed very good, although out of our price range. The lingering taste of the oak and molds brought me right back to the barrel room of the Italian winery I remember as a child (now Turley Cellers). We did buy a few bottles at J&J Liquors at the north end of town, where the are able to sell local wines for about half the price at the wineries. How do they do it?

    We would both like to encourage you in your work. We think that California wines are among the best in the world, and we prefer the bigger flavors that California’s long ripening season can produce. California also has world-class institutions, like UC Davis, Fresno State, Cal Poly, Sonoma State, and others, that graduate each year well trained specialists in every aspect of wine making and wine agriculture, and go out to try to keep improving.

    So, we will be looking for your book to help sort this out. Your biggest challenge may be how to pare it down to a manageable size.

    Best wishes,

    David and Roberta Sears
    Los Gatos, CA

    • Hi, David and Roberta. Glad you liked the Pinot Noir! I rarely ever comment on pricing because I never know what budgets people have.

      Thanks for the tip about J&J Liquors. I’ll have to check that out. Albertson’s does something similar and has the best discounts (30% off any 6 bottles) and I think they just do it by volume pricing. They also have a great selection of local wines here in Paso and the SLO one also has a great selection of Edna Valley wines. So, taste at the winery and enjoy the experience and when you know what you want to buy, do your volume shopping at the local Albertson’s.

      Hope you have a wonderful trip back to Los Gatos,


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