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It is the 1850s, and the Californian Gold Rush has just entered a scenic town of Amador County. Gold and Silver mines brought miners into the county, and their unquenchable thirst led to the boom of the region’s viticulture industry. Also known as “The Heart of the Mother Lode”, Amador County wineries are over 40 in number, producing excellent wine that is sure to get your taste buds tingling.
Amador County can be considered a less crowded version of Napa Valley, retaining the charming view without the crowd. From Gold Country to Wine County, Amador County is your best destination for a tranquil wine-tasting weekend!
What makes Amador County Wine Special?
Several factors have influenced the boom of viticulture in Amador County, one of which is ideal environmental conditions. The volcanic soil and warm temperature are ideal for growing robust grapes. These estate-grown vines are of several kinds and ages, some more than 65 years older. It is these deep-rooted vines that produce Amador County’s special Zinfandels.
Home to the oldest Zinfandel vineyard in The US, it is the primary variety produced in Amador County wineries. While the Zinfandel is Amador County’s primary variety, there is an assortment of wines to pick from, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Tempranillo.
Must-Visit Amador County Wineries
The breathtaking view of the mountains, fresh air, and a glass of wine is all you need to kick start your wine tasting adventure at Amador County. With over 40 wineries to choose from, you might be confused about where to get the best experience in this wine region. Fear not, for we have it all covered for you! Here is a list of some of the must-visit Amador County wineries and something special to try at each of these wineries.
1. Villa Toscano Winery
Villa Toscano is a sister winery to Bella Piazza and is one of the must-visit Amador County wineries. Villa Toscano is an epitome of beauty and elegance, with well-designed outdoor space and ponds on either side of the entrance. There are outdoor dining areas set about these ponds and a Tuscan-inspired tasting room, giving you a mini-Tuscany experience right at the scene of the Californian Goldrush.
There is also a gift shop and bistro situated within the grounds to cater to your needs.
Try Out: Old Vine Zinfandel with a slight indication of blackberry and liquorice.
2. Dobra Zemlja
While all Amador County wineries have stunning views and picnic spots, Dobra Zemlja stands out with its secluded ponds, tall trees, excellent wine, and an unconventional tasting room, which is a cave structure. The Mason Ruiz is a wine blend produced here; other varieties include Zinfandel, Sangiovese, and Syrah.
Try Out: Milan Ruz and Kikas Zinfandel. The Kikas Zinfandel is a Croatian-style port and goes well with chocolatey flavours.
3. Shenandoah and Sobon
For tasting or purchasing some classic and reserve wines, be sure to visit Shenandoah and Sobon, its sister winery. A family-run business spanning three generations, Shenandoah and Sobon is known for their sustainable vineyards and estate-grown grapes.
Besides the exquisite wine varieties, Shenandoah also offers a stunning view of the valley from its picnic grounds.
Try out: Sobon 2017 ReZerve Petite Sirah. At just $24, Sirah features a deep colour and a rich, fruity flavour that is sure to captivate you!
4. Bella Piazza Winery
Several factors make Bella Piazza stand out from the rest of the Amador County Wineries. One of these is the pasta buffet during weekends. The other is the aesthetically pleasing view ideal for a picnic. Red wines prepared here undergo extensive oak ageing, which is not used in preparing white wine varieties.
Wine varieties produced here include- Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Semillon Port, Shiraz, and Chardonnay.
5. Dillian Wines
Dillian Wines is one of the numerous family-run Amador County wineries with a quaint, homey, and dog-friendly tasting room fashioned after their family home. Dillian Wines primarily produce the Zinfandel, Barbera, and Primitivo varieties.
Try Out: 2012 Barbera has a unique aroma of smoke and cedar, with hints of blueberry.
6. Renwood Winery
Of all Amador County wineries, this is the one for a true Zinfandel lover. Renwood Winery is known for its exceptional Zinfandels and the scenic view here at the Sierra Foothills. Renwood Winery offers a tasting menu that contains artisan cheese and charcuterie, which can be enjoyed with a glass of their finest Zinfandel.
Try Out: Amador Ice, one of the most interesting varieties, made with pear juice and concentrated apples. With the aroma of stewed peaches and peanuts, this wine also contains flavours of apple cookies and freshly baked oatmeal.
7. Andis Wines
Andis Wines is a sustainable, modern, and small-production winery. Established in 2010, Andis Wines was built to stand out with its modern and futuristic design. Offering magnificent views of the surrounding hills makes it the perfect spot to spend your afternoons or evenings.
Andis Wines can be considered one of the best Amador County wineries, offering specialities such as Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Andis is also home to one of the oldest Zinfandels whose grapes are harvested from a century-old vine.
Besides the sleek design and great wine, Andis also hosts annual events, including a harvest event where guests can participate.
Try Out: Andis Sparkling Wine. Made from Chardonnay, this sparkling wine resembles Champagne with a hint of fruit.
8. Karmère Vineyards & Winery
Karmère Vineyards & Winery is another one of the Amador County wineries that offer a stunning view of the sunset and lush vineyards. With over 67 acres of vineyard, Karmère is home to variants such as Viognier, Nebbiolo, Syrah, and Primitivo. Run entirely by women, Karmère Vineyards and Winery sports wines with names taken from remarkable family stories and vineyards named after the women in the family.
Listen to a great story as you sip the delightful wine from their French Provincial tasting room. Wine varieties available here include Peach and Almond Sparkling wine, along with the regular red wine collection.
9. Helwig Vineyards & Winery
Home to several award-winning wine varieties, Helwig Winery had its humble beginning with the Helwig family moving to Amador County. Today, Helwig Winery offers a range of varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, and Syrah. They also produce Graciano, an uncommon, red Spanish grape.
The best way to end your day touring Amador County wineries would be to tour the wine caves and discover the concert amphitheatre. During summer and spring, Helwig Winery hosts weekend concerts. It is also open for weddings and formal events.
Try Out: Sparkling Rosè, East Block Zinfandel.
10. Cooper Vineyards
Cooper Vineyards is known for hosting the annual Barbera Festival and their Barbera grapes, which are sent off to numerous other wineries to produce the best wine. Open from Thursday to Sunday; there are a variety of wine varieties available here. The Roussane, Viognier, Zinfandel, Barbera, and Cabernet Sauvignon are a few among the 17 varieties available here at Cooper Vineyards.
Cooper Vineyards stands out from other Amador County wineries with their seasonal wine tasting experience, wherein you get a brand new tasting experience with each visit.
Try Out: 2017 Barbera Riserva is truly one of the best here. With the fresh aroma of cherries, smoky vanilla flavour, and a spicy finish, this wine is rightly the crème de la crème of Cooper Vineyards. Other varieties include the 2017 Sangiovese and the 2017 Blondie.
11. Sutter Creek Wine Tasting
To get the best of three tasting rooms from three wineries all rolled into one, visit Sutter Creek Wine Tasting. Located in downtown Sutter Creek, this wine tasting room was opened jointly by three Amador County wineries – Sierra Ridge, Le Mulet Rouge, and Gold Hill Vineyards.
Among the numerous wine varieties available here are Mourvedre, Muscat, Merlot, Cabernet, Viognier, and Sparkling Wines.
12. Convergence Vineyards
Ideally located at the convergence of Amador, Rancheria, and Dry Creek, Convergence Vineyards is run by a husband and wife duo. With the dream of opening a vineyard and winery, their journey brought them from Napa Valley to Amador County. Few among the many wine varieties grown here include Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malvasia. El Diablo, Petite Sirah, and Primitivo are some of the must-try varieties here.
13. Amador Cellars
Amador Cellars stands out from other Amador County wineries with their sustainable farming. They do not use inorganic fertilizers and believe in quality over quantity. Their Tuscan architecture and Mediterranean wine varieties certainly go hand-in-hand.
Producing wine varieties such as Zinfandel, Spanish, and Italian, but the Sangiovese and Syrah certainly stand out. Some other varieties to try are Tempranillo and Barbera.
Imagine this: The sun setting in the distance as you sit at the foothills of Sierra Nevada, a glass of exquisite wine in hand, the relaxed atmosphere sure to take away all your worries. For the perfect wine-tasting weekend, you can always stay at one of the many hotels in Amador County, go on gold mining adventures, and taste some fine wine. Amador County, California, is where picturesque scenery meets reasonably priced wines, the best combination for a relaxing trip.
Do mention your favourites and suggestions in the comments down below!