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Photo by: Charles Phillips

A Trio of Delicious Sips: Mariposa Triangle Tasting Tour

Mariposa County has good taste when it comes to tasting good. Deep blue Sierra skies and ample sunshine pair perfectly with the fertile landscape of rolling foothills, creating a painterly backdrop worthy of casual sipping. Add to this an easily navigable roadmap and you’ve reached peak drive-time mouthfeel: The Mariposa Triangle Tasting Tour.

From zesty zinfandels to orchard-fresh cider and the welcoming aroma of roasting coffee, this natural palette of local flavors makes the Mariposa Triangle Tasting Tour ultimately palatable — a welcome top-off to your Yosemite getaway.

The Three Legs of MT3

To keep things math-y, our tour of tasty triangulation consists of three connecting legs:

Highway 140/Downtown Mariposa + Triangle Road + Highway 49 = MT3

The route covers a tad over 30 miles but we’re not just about numbers here. The relaxing country roads of the MT3 offer a respite from the routines back home as you roll down the window, take a deep inhale of Sierra air, and imagine what daily life must be like in the shadow of Yosemite National Park. Here are some sip & mortar establishments worth visiting…

Highway 140/Downtown Mariposa

The MT3 can be approached from any direction, though a strategic start/finish is always downtown Mariposa where Gold Rush history meets Sierra charm, and where the choices run the gamut from boots & Birkenstocks to whiskey & wine. Enjoy downtown Mariposa tastefully to start your journey, then again upon arrival back “home!”

The bar at 1850s

Settle in for some tasty local brews and exceptional fare at 1850s Restaurant.

Craft suds powerhouse 1850 Brewing Company is considered a local focal with such brews as the Bridalveil Honey Blonde Ale, Bootjack’s Finest Pilsner and Timberline IPA. The lunch & dinner menus are equally elevated, with indoor/outdoor seating filled with lively traveler’s tales. Kids are not only welcome but encouraged to pair the house-made sarsaparilla with fries — be they regular, garlic or sweet potato!

As foodies know all too well, most recipes begin with “add oil to pan.” The tasting room at CostaLivos Mountain Gold Olive Oil adds oomph to the sauté with its locally sourced liquid gold that’s also perfect for dipping french bread or even as a natural shine serum for hair. After your tasting, ask about what great lunch or dinner specials CostaLivos La Cuchina Italia is running. Located in the same building is a great, family-run Italian restaurant where the very olive oils you may have tasted are used in cooking and as salad dressings.

Coffee from Sticks Coffee

Locals love the fresh brewed coffee goodness from Sticks Coffee, Pony Expresso and MoonBow Espresso in downtown Mariposa.

Coffee. It just beckons. And Mariposa offers lots of choices when it comes to the Church of the Bean. Cute & homey Sticks Coffee serves tasty bites alongside killer joe, winning the Mariposa Gazette’s 2021 Readers Choice Award for Best Coffee. Pony Expresso is more than a playful name pairing jolts of arabica with breakfast burritos and baked treats that are devoured by locals and tourists alike. For a roasthaus inspired by the rare & amazing Yosemite moonbow phenomenon, try MoonBow Espresso for its frappes, lattes, hot chocolate & smoothies in addition to their finely-crafted espresso.

Any self-respecting sipping circuit includes wine, and the tasting room at Casto Oaks Fine Wine & Art offers local grapes such as its jammy zins and well-rounded cabs alongside local artists working a variety of media, from oil on canvas to photography and pottery. Across the street from Casto Oaks is one of Mariposa’s newest spots, the Local Grape, curates the best wines from the Sierra Foothills American Viticultural Area. Bottles are sold on site and the experts at Local Grape can provide even more winery recommendations to extend your gastro-venture beyond the Triangle Tasting Tour. Consider finishing your tour here before a wonderful dinner in “downtown” Mariposa.

Triangle Road

Triangle Road is the northernmost leg of the MT3, gently winding east/west at an elevation of approximately 3,000 feet. Here it’s all about terroir and tranquility, where wildlife keeps the vineyards company as dotted driveways disappear between the trees, the epitome of country living. Take me home, indeed.

The chapel at Butterfly Creek Winery

Sample exquisite wines and explore the picturesque grounds at Butterfly Creek Winery.

A pleasant meander through hill, dale and the occasional deer nibbling grass beneath the canopy of a stately oak brings visitors to local grape haven Butterfly Creek Winery. The largest vineyard in Mariposa County, Butterfly Creek specializes in Merlot, Chardonnay and Cab Sauv, not to mention it’s smoky Campfire Red blend, and is operated by long-time vintners John & Colleen Gerken. Contact the tasting room for currents pours & hours.

A hard cider “tasting camp” in the middle of an 800-tree apple orchard? Heaven in a glass! With Yosemite National Park nearby, a visit to Sierra Cider is a chill way to kick back and enjoy the Sierra foothills while sampling all four varieties of what they call Campfire Champagne. Book your tasting tour and replicate Newton’s theory of gravity with friends!

Bottle of Sierra Cider among apple blossoms

Enjoy the sweet tang of the hard apple cider at Sierra Cider.

Two miles from Sierra Cider and next to the Triangle Market, The Grizzlies Den, a rustic place that mostly only locals know serves up tasty dips, melts and reubens, the perfect post-beverage encore. Also open for dinner and weekend brunch, this base station has the local stamp of approval. Fun fact: The native Miwuk name for the California grizzly bear was “uzamati,” and some speculate (though not proven) that it may have lead to the naming of Yosemite. For more information on bear biology and how to aid in our furry friends’ survival, click here.

Highway 49

The southernmost leg of the MT3, Highway 49 embraces its Gold Rush roots and embodies the 49’er spirit as it connects one historic mining town with another along the flank of the Sierra Nevada mountains. No busts, all booms!

With their mantra of “give thanks and work hard,” the family-run Mariposa Coffee Company roasts their own hand-selected Arabica beans while bringing visitors and locals together for such cups as the 49er Blend, Sequoia Sunrise and Yosemite Dark. Grab a pound or more of beans to-go in their hand-labeled bags, or even snag a t-shirt/hoodie/mug to commemorate your visit to the Mother Lode.

Along Highway 49 is another local secret, Steve’s Sportsman Café which serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner. Daily specials provide fresh options such as steaks, shrimp scampi and creamy presto shrimp pasta.

Coffee beans ready to roast at Mariposa Coffee Company

Stop for a sip of coffee at Mariposa Coffee Company where this family-run business roasts their own hand-selected beans.

Just off Highway 49 on Darrah Road in Bootjack, the The Kitchen at MoonBow (sister to MoonBow Espresso in downtown Mariposa) does just fine during daylight hours with a sneaky-good menu that features meat and Beyond Meat standouts, not to mention its signature coffee drinks. Nothing like sippin’ iced americanos & scarfin’ burgers in an authentic Gold Rush burgh!

The Airport Bar & Grill may require a short 5-mile detour north of Mariposa on Highway 49, but where else can you eat & drink at a place with the tail of an airplane sticking out of it? This no-frills roadhouse seems straight out of an old movie where locals come for home cooking. Try everything from the legendary Meatloaf Plate (enough for two people to share), corn dogs to rib-eye steaks and wash ‘em down with a draft beer or an ice-cold Dr. Pepper. While you’re here, why not scoot across the road for a Yosemite airplane tour or even skydiving?

Tandem skydiving with Yosemite Skydive

While you’re in the neighborhood, pair your tasting tour with some aerial adventure with a flightseeing tour from Airborrn Aviation or ditch the plane and enjoy the view with Yosemite Skydive.

MT3 Tips

  • If you plan on tippling, be sure to have a designated driver.
  • Consider getting out of the car to walk/bike for a spell and immerse yourself in all the Sierra foothills have to offer.
  • Try a pre-MT3 morning walk through Stockton Creek Preserve where birds and turtles are known to loiter.
  • Be sure to check hours of operation for each stop prior to visit.
  • Know the weather forecast and dress appropriately — Mariposa County can get hot in summer and cool in winter.
  • Don’t be afraid to order to-go bottles, beans & merch to enjoy back home.
  • Finish your MT3 with dinner in beautiful Yosemite Mariposa, or extend your stay by taking advantage of its wide range of overnight accommodations.
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