AMADOR COUNTY’S MICRO-CLIMATES are as diverse as any in California, ranging from oak- studded hillsides at 900 feet to Sierra peaks that top 9,000 feet. Besides offering a year ‘round playground—for “leaf peeping,” cycling, hiking, skiing and other activities—the county’s terroir, climate and soils are ideal for growing premium wine grapes.
The majority of Amador’s 3,700 vine acres and 45 wineries are in the northern part of the county in the Shenandoah Valley, near the small town of Plymouth. In the Shenandoah Valley, the combination of weather, terrain and soil is ideal for growing premium wine grapes.
Besides the Shenandoah Valley, the sub-appellations of Fiddletown and Shake Ridge are considered prime grape growing regions. Grapes from this area are sought after and purchased by winemakers in other regions.
Winemaking has been a passion in Amador County dating back to the Gold Rush era. The county is home to the oldest documented zinfandel vineyard in California.
Diverse, award-winning wines
Amador County once was identified almost exclusively with zinfandel. During the past 20 years, Amador winemakers have begun producing a diverse array of varieties, especially those of Italian and southern French origin.
The region’s wineries also produce superb examples of barbera, tempranillo, sangiovese, sauvignon blanc and syrah; exceptional bottlings of pinot grigio, verdelho, viognier, roussanne, marsanne, grenache, mouvedre, petite sirah and aglianico and tempranillo; rosés made from a wide variety of grapes; exceptional dessert wines made from muscat grapes; and port-style wines made from zinfandel and traditional Portuguese varieties.
The county has accomplished winemaking pioneers. Scott Harvey grew up in the area, and he has been producing world-class Amador County wines for more than 40 years. Scott played a prominent role in bringing the county to the forefront of California viticulture. Winegrower Dick Cooper is responsible for growing much of the award-winning barbera wine in the foothills.
Dick Cooper celebrates his 77th year with a GSM (grenache, syrah and mourvedre) grown and blended at the vineyard called “Anniversary.” The red wine blend showcases the talents of winemaker Mike Roser.
Besides making its own award-winning wines, Cooper’s grapes are sold to neighboring wineries, which also win gold medals. One recent example: Amador Cellars’ 2013 Barbera, which won “double gold” at this year’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and “Best of California” at the State Fair. The grapes came from Cooper Vineyards and Karmere Vineyards, says co-owner Linda.
From old world charm to modern day facilities such as Andis Wines, Amador offers a memorable, enjoyable and educational wine tasting experience along scenic roads less traveled. Visit AmadorWine.com for more information.