Knight’s Ferry: Over the last hundred years, this tiny gold-rush town has changed little in size or character. Nature’s peace and tranquility abound in the myriad lakes, river ways, forests and vistas, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Yet, what began as a mining town now positions itself equally as a global center for agribusiness, most notably vineyards. With its mild Mediterranean climate, rich soils and ample water, it is an ideal location to grow and harvest selected wine grapes. Knights Ferry is located within 90 minutes of two of the world’s largest markets (San Francisco and Silicon Valley), and a five-hour drive to Los Angeles. For life, work and play, people are discovering the spectacular possibilities of Knights Ferry.
The Sierra Foothills have long been known for their abundant, crystal clear waters, offering over 800 miles of rivers and streams. Lake Tulloch, Lake Don Pedro and New Melones are closest to Knights Ferry. Depending on what outdoor activity you choose to do, you can spend the day hiking, biking, swimming or a combination of all three of them!
The quiet relaxation of fishing or hunting has been attracting leagues of sportsmen in recent years. Reeling in some of their small or large-mouth bass and trout is as breathtaking as the waterfalls which form as the winter’s snow begins to melt into the waterways. And because of local environmental efforts, salmon are also thriving in this area. During the fall months when the Stanislaus River begins to drop, the salmon begin to molt and run upstream. What a sight to behold!
The wine regions of the Sierra Foothills have long been one of California’s best-kept secrets. Along with picks and shovels, the people who came to California for gold also brought grape vines and planted vineyards amidst the gold fields. Ask a local winemaker what gives these Sierra Foothills wines their rich, robust taste and they’ll tell you “it’s the soil.” Most of the vineyards at this elevation are set in a soil of decomposed granite, eroded from the Sierra Nevada range.
No account of Knights Ferry would be complete without mentioning Abraham Schell and his family. Mr. Schell was “a banker at the ferry, a capitalist, businessman and one of the most brilliant lawyers of his time in California.” In 1868, he purchased property including Knights Ferry and the acres nearby upon which he founded the Red Mountain Vineyard. Located on the Littlejohn Creek, Red Mountain Vineyard has become one of the largest and most complete vineyards in this geographic area of the state. From the small, intimate wineries in Murphys and Mokelumne Hill to the grand seven-story Ironstone Vineyard and E&J Gallo Winery, you can easily spend a day touring and enjoying some of the more than 60 wineries in the region and their award-winning wines. As you drive from one winery to the next, you will take in some of the most beautiful scenery along quiet country roads—those which still retain some of the same natural feeling Abraham Schell must have felt over 140 years ago.
During the spring and summer months, the clear water of the Stanislaus River swells and provides Class I-II rafting trips for many locals and amateurs. These waters also offer boating, wakeboarding, waterskiing, sailing and fishing adventures. Family life, solitude, peacefulness, fun: The Knights Ferry area truly offers a magical time to all who come here.
The popular Bear Valley mountain resort area is located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. At 7,000 feet in elevation, Bear Valley is higher than the Lake Tahoe ski area and gets more snow! Currently undergoing a major renovation, Bear Valley offers world class winter sports, summer music festivals and many types of outdoor recreation.
Dodge Ridge, a mere 45 minutes away, offers a wide range of terrain and winter sports for the whole family. Located just beyond Sonora, it features 800 acres of terrain for all levels of skiers and riders to enjoy.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park provides sanctuary to one of the few remaining groves of giant sequoias. The park features hiking trails and picnic areas set among two groves of some of the oldest living redwood trees in California.
Finally, Yosemite National Park is the ultimate day trip from Knights Ferry. With nearly 1200 square miles of scenic wild lands, the park is only an hour-and-a-half drive away. The Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite has some of the most rugged pristine scenery in the Sierra.
Saddle Creek Resort: World-class golf is just miles away from Knights Ferry. This famed golf resort features 18 scenic holes and is ranked 8th by Golf Week Magazine for “Best Public Access Courses in California”.
Today, Knights Ferry is a small, tight-knit community offering access to big-city adventures just outside its perimeters. The surrounding towns fulfill the needs of the outdoor enthusiasts, while the historic and picturesque gold rush town offers antique shops, museums, wine tastings, art galleries, festivals, concerts, theatre and shopping in a small-town setting.
What a place to call home! Casa Estrella: Knight’s Ferry, California.