Month: February 2018

Artisan Deli Foods

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Enjoy our patio while savoring artisan deli foods, Iron Hub wines, and  spectacular views

Cheese

Rich Gouda. A creamy, mild soft cheese with a nutty after note. Pairs well with Chardonnay or Zinfandel. $5.95

Apple-Smoked Gouda. A creamy, mild soft cheese smoked with apple and hardwood. with a nutty after note. Pairs well with Sangiovese. $5.95

Muenster. A mild, traditional flavor and soft, smooth texture. Pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc or Barbera. $5.95

Sonoma Jack with Garlic. A creamy jack cheese rich with sautéed garlic. Pairs well with Zinfandel or Barbera. $5.95

 

Charcuterie

Milano Salami. Rich and flavored with peppers, this finely ground salami has a smooth, satiny texture. Pairs well with Zinfandel. $5.95

Charcuterie Trio. Garlic-rich Genoa, sweet Coppa, and savory Mortadella. Pairs well with Zinfandel or Sangiovese. $6.95

Rotini. Rich and flavorful, with prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, and basil. Pairs well with Resolute or Syrah. $6.95

 

Crackers

Star Crackers. One bag of Valley Lavosh crackers, simple and delicious. $5.95

Round Crackers. Choose from a variety of flavors. $2.95

Raincoast Crisp Crackers. A choice of rich flavors. $6.95

Article: The 8 Best Amador County Wineries To Visit

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Why should you care about the best Amador County wineries? Some wine lovers may even ask, “Where is Amador County?” Amador County is located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Foothills. Some call it “The Heart of the Mother Lode” because of the gold and silver rush that made this area famous in the 1800’s. Amador was once home to the California Gold Rush with numerous gold mines in the region.

Now the area is famous for liquids instead of metals. You’ll be shouting “mother” when you first experience the wine from one of the top wineries that call Amador County home. Wine tasting with breathtaking mountain views is the norm here. While breathing in that fresh, California air can make you feel light and free and….time for another glass of wine.

There are so many great wines in the area, but these are the 8 best Amador County wineries to start with. When you plan your Sierra Foothills wine tasting adventure, remember to include at least a few of these wineries.

Helwig Vineyards & Winery

great amador county winery helwig
Photo Courtesy: Yelp

Spending a day at Helwig is just what the wine doctor ordered. Here, you’ll be tempted into staying beyond the hour wine tasting and indulge in the sweeping views of the lush vineyards. You can try the picnic Pavilion, visit the wine cave, explore the terraced concert amphitheater, or let the chef select wine and food pairings for you.

If you gaze long enough, you can pretend you’re in Napa, the views are that good! The tastings are just $5 for 6 or 7 wines and the fee is waived if you purchase a bottle. The winery itself is more modern than those in the surrounding area. The winery is also perfect for corporate events and weddings, having designated areas and rooms just for those occasions. Shopping is also a must here as they have a wide variety of olive oil products that include lip balms, soaps, and even seasoned dips.

Some of their most notable wines include their Gold Country Rosé, IditaRed red blend, East Block Zinfandel, and their Sparkling Rosé. This is definitely one of the best Amador County wineries to visit!

Helwig Vineyards & Winery : 11555 Shenandoah Rd. Plymouth, CA 95669  209-245-5200

 

Renwood Winery

best amador county wineries renwood
Photo Courtesy: Renwood Winery

Renwood has consistently been a top-rated winery in Amador County because of its impeccable service, high-end zinfandels, and its lovely grounds – not to mention the tasty meat and cheese platter that visitors swoon over.

There are different levels of tastings starting at just $5. Each tasting is informative, fun, and a wine-filled experience. The private tasting is just $10 and they offer a Class in a Glass for just $60 and includes lunch and a glass of wine. While their Zinfandel seems to be the fan favorite, they also offer a Viognier, Tempranillo, and a Petite Syrah.

Perhaps the most interesting wine they make is the Amador Ice which has aromas of stewed peaches and peanuts and made with concentrated apples and pear juice with flavors of freshly baked oatmeal and apple cookies. Perfect for those fall get-togethers.

Renwood Winery: 12225 Steiner Road, Plymouth, CA 95669  209-245-6979

Jeff Runquist Wines

The winemaker here is focused on making balanced wines full of vibrant flavor.  A visit to the tasting room means you’ll get to experience some of the robust flavors in their Zinfandel, Primitivo, Barbera, Sangiovese, Dolcetto, and Carbon. You’ll receive a complimentary cheese plate to pair with each of the wines, the wine tasting is also free. We think great wine and free tastings make this one of the best Amador County wineries for visitors.

The tasting room is always busy and a little loud, but the good energy is contagious and so are the consistently good reds. Visitors have been known to go from tasting to wine club member in one swoop.

For more diehard winos there is an “R” Vineyard House to rent for $800/night and features multiple decks with breathtaking panoramic views and a saltwater swimming pool.

Jeff Runquist Wines – 10776 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth, CA 95669  209-245-6282

 

Karmère Vineyards & Winery

karmere winery sierra foothills
Photo Courtesy: Yelp

Next on our list of the best Amador County wineries is a beautiful French chateau-inspired winery features complimentary wine tasting. The wine is served by a friendly and knowledgeable staff. The tastings offered at Karmère include new and popular releases. They also let you taste future wine releases straight from the barrel. Want an insiders tip? Their pours are quite generous for a tasting.

In addition to Reds, Karmère also offers Almond and Peach Sparkling Wines.

The winery is run by women and all of their vineyards are named after the women in the family. The grounds are manicured. You would be forgiven for thinking you were back in the old country during your visit! What a perfect backdrop for watching the sunset with a glass of wine. There is also a winery cat named Grayson who lives on the property.

Karmère Vineyards & Winery: 11970 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth, CA 95669  209-245-5000

Andis Wines

andis winery wine tasting amador county
Photo Courtesy: Yelp

You get the feeling that Andis is the Tesla of wineries. Modern, sleek with a futuristic design. So it is no surprise the parking area offers electric vehicle charging stations.  The state of the art winemaking facility was built with a “green” approach. This makes Andis stand out from the rest of the wineries in the area.

The tasting room itself is quite spacious and offers panoramic views of Amador wine country. Even though the look is modern and sleek, the heart of the winery is fun and welcoming. It is clear they want you to come and hang out a while. You will find bocce ball courts, large picnic areas, and wines on tap to enhance your experience.

Even with all these modern attributes, their wine tastings are only $5 for 6 wines. That feels like a throwback to the good old days of wine tasting!

They also have events throughout the years like Redneck BBQs, Art Classes, and Harvest events where guests can stomp on grapes.

Popular offerings include their crisp Sauvignon Blanc and their Cabernet Franc. They also have the oldest Zinfandel in the country, grapes harvested from a 100-year old vine. Love modern design and great wine? This is one of the best Amador County wineries for you!

Andis Wines 11000 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth, C 95669   209-245-6177

Iron Hub Winery

iron hub winery sierra foothills
Photo Courtesy: Yelp

Visit Iron Hub to taste their award-winning wines and stay to get swept away by the inspiring views of the Sierra Nevadas. In the heart of the historic gold country, Iron Hub Winery is a personable and inviting atmosphere where you can taste newly released small-batch wines, both red and white.

The tasting room is opened Friday-Monday and offers tastings of some of their most popular wines including their Rosé, Sangiovese, Clockspring Zinfandel, and their Syrah. Their calendar is always busy with events such as BBQs and Grape Stomping which you can pre-purchase tickets for. The winery is family owned and operated by husband and wife team Tom and Beth Jones. Their newly renovated tasting room opened in Fall 2017.

Iron Hub Winery  12500 Steiner Road. Plymouth, CA 95669   209-245-6307

Cooper Vineyards 

cooper vineyards plymouth california wineries
Photo Courtesy: Yelp

The magic number is 17, as in Cooper Vineyards produces 17 different varietals of wine which all began with Barbera, 35 years ago. The vast farm is made up nearly 100 acres which produce flavorful white wines like their Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc and robust reds like Barbara, Syrah, and SangioBello.

The large tasting room gives off a Spanish farmhouse vibe and is always bustling and you will find the experience informative and personable at this family-owned and operated winery. Tastings flights are seasonal, so each visit promises a new wine tasting experience. Make sure to add this fun and diverse winery to your list of top wine tasting stops in Amador County.

Cooper Vineyards   21365 Shenandoah School Road, Plymouth, CA 95669   209-245-6181

Prospect Cellars 

prospect cellars winery

Another one of the best Amador County wineries to visit gives you a taste of history with your glass of wine. We know you’ll love Prospect Cellars. The tasting room is housed in a charming restored Post Office. Not only is it a tasting room, but also a local hangout with a visitor’s center and an eatery.

Guests can wine taste with bites like the charcuterie and cheese plate or even ice cream – Raspberry Zinfandel Chip, anyone? Their popular wines include Gold Digger Red Wine, Pay Dirt Zinfandel, and the Cooper Ranch Barbera. At Prospect you can munch on toasted panini sandwiches, pairing them with wine flights. They are also open later than most wineries in town, so it’s a great last stop to keep that wine buzz going.

Prospect Cellars  9506 Main Street, Plymouth, CA 95669   209-680-9003

Read complete article here.

San Francisco Chronicle Article: Why Amador County is a wine lover’s paradise

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Within the valleys and hills of Amador County, stretching some 70 miles into the Sierra Nevada east of Sacramento, grow some of the country’s oldest grape vines. One Zinfandel vineyard there, for example, dates to 1869.

Established during the Gold Rush, wine growing here waned on pace with gold fever, and even further during Prohibition. In the past 80 years, however, viticulture in Amador has made incremental steps, transitioning from the basic fortified wine of the 1950s to the modern wave of artisan wines.

The focal point for grape growing here is the cool Shenandoah Valley in the northern part of the county, where vineyards stretch from 1,200 to 2,400 feet above sea level. The rolling hills here feature soil suitable for old-world varieties like Barbera and Sangiovese, as well as hardy Zinfandel and Rhone varieties.

It’s been a long, slow growth, but Amador County is becoming a destination known for more than just its history.

“You have a lot of really capable people making wines in this region now, at a very high professional level,” says Bill Easton, owner and winemaker of two labels, Terre Rouge and Easton, in Plymouth. “The reason that there’s more attention on the foothills is people are paying more attention to where they grow grapes.”

It’s too early to call it a new Napa, but winemaking in Amador is ascendant, drawing both dedicated oenophiles and weekend tasters looking to pair subtle, interesting wines with a laid-back atmosphere.

“Amador has an incredible quaintness to it,” says winemaker Paul Sobon, emphasizing the reasonable prices for bottles and tastings in the area. “You can still come into any of our tasting rooms of the bigger wineries and likely meet the winemakers or owners.”

Here are the latest developments in the county’s wine scene.

Award Winners

There’s been a recent spate of prestigious national awards bestowed on local winemakers.

Easton himself has won several: In 2016, he was one of Wine Enthusiast’s five Winemaker of the Year nominees, and became the fourth-ever recipient of the Rhone Rangers Lifetime Achievement award for his work promoting Rhone varietals in California. That same year, Terre Rouge was named one of Wine & Spirits magazine’s top 100 wineries in the world.

Easton plays down the accolades. “One of the keys to our success was … really understanding volcanic and granitic soils in this particular climate environment,” he says.

Other Amador wineries recently have taken home awards at Dan Berger’s International Wine Competition, an extensive and exacting contest entering its fourth year: Vino Noceto received a silver medal for its 2013 Sangiovese; Sobon Estate won a bronze and a silver for two different Zinfandels and a silver for its 2015 Barbera; and Jeff Runquist Wines took several golds for wines from Amador County vineyards.

(Amador vineyards also did well in The Chronicle’s 2018 wine competition, winning five double-gold medals and several gold, silver and bronzes.)

Fresh Label

Paul Sobon has been making wine since his parents moved the family to Amador County and bought a winery in 1977. Two labels, Shenandoah Vineyards and Sobon Estate, are based on the family plot in the Shenandoah Valley.

But Sobon wanted a wine that he could put his name on, so this spring he will launch his own label, called Paul J Wine. Sobon is constructing a 1,600-square-foot winery and tasting room off Shenandoah Road between Runquist Wines and Vino Noceto, with repurposed lumber and corrugated metal in what he calls a “restoration hardware” architectural style — more contemporary than western.

Paul J will first release a 2016 Syrah and a 2016 Zinfandel, a blend featuring Portuguese varieties, and more. The idea is to toss out the delicate style that’s become typical of Amador wines in favor of big, intense, dark flavor. Sobon calls it a “very sexy wine.”

New Tasting Room

Completed in late November 2017, Iron Hub Winery’s new tasting room corresponds to the release of its first fully in-house vintage (which comes from the 2014 harvest). Owners Beth and Tom Jones sold their successful Lava Cap Winery in nearby Placerville in 2013 and purchased vineyards and a winery in Amador the next year.

The tasting room is the tip of the ice berg of changes the Jonses have recently made. They re-plumbed and re-wired the winery. They reconstructed the crush pad to allow gravity-flow crushing, a gentler process of handling the grapes. To the vineyards, they added sustainable practices like composting leaves and stems, recycling water for irrigation, and introducing cover crops that bring in nitrogen and retain moisture.

“Tom is very well known for red wines that are very balanced … he’s always respectful of the varietals,” says Beth.

Visit Iron Hub and you can talk to the Jonses and their son, who enjoy telling their story to guests of the tasting room. You’ll see an airy building with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over the Shenandoah Valley and the Crystal Range of the Sierra Nevada.

Growth of the Vintners Association

One thing all these wineries have in common, aside from their location, is their membership in the Amador Vintners Association. Under new executive director Jack Gorman, the association is expanding its schedule for 2018 to include several new wine festivals and events.

Historically, the association has run two passport-style events — Behind the Cellar Door and Big Crush Harvest Festival — where wineries host specific activities on the same day (live music, barrel tastings, educational seminars) and visitors move from one to the next.

In 2018, the association will take charge of, and expand, two more events that have previously been independently produced: Amador Four Fires, where local chefs cook small bite pairings over an open flame; and the Barbera Festival, where around 70 producers converge on a single location for a day of exploring this up-and-coming variety.

New Generation

As in other Amador County businesses, new blood is coming to prominence in the wine industry.

“We’re starting to see a younger generation is coming in with a new energy,” Gorman says. “We’re seeing new creativity in winemaking. We’re seeing moves towards sustainable farming, and sustainable winemaking.”

Take Lindy Gullet, for example, whose family moved to Plymouth in 1995 when she was just eight years old. She’s now learning the ropes of the family winery, Vino Noceto, in Plymouth, in preparation for her parents’ retirement. Chief among her plans is to bring on more full-time employees and introduce a canned version of their popular light, sippable, slightly-sparkling Moscato, called Frivolo.

Like Gullett, Michael and Ashley Long left Amador County to attend college and travel, but ultimately came back. The siblings are taking up the family business at Amador Cellars — he as head winemaker and she as assistant winemaker and marketing director.

“Because this is such a small area, people are willing to experiment a little bit more,” says Ashley. Having outgrown their current space, the Longs are working on a new building to house some of the 4,000 cases of Italian and Rhone wines they produce each year.

“I think the thing that’s cool about Amador is how much it’s changing,” Gullett says. “It’s shifting into a place where change is happening, where there’s excitement about the future, and excitement about what it can be. It’s always been there under the surface, and now it’s coming to fruition.”

Nathan Hurst is a freelance writer. Email: [email protected].

If you go

Wineries

Terre Rouge and Easton: 10801 Dickson Road, Plymouth; (209) 245-4277; www.terrerougewines.com

Jeff Runquist Wines: 10776 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth; (209) 245-6282; www.jeffrunquistwines.com

Vino Noceto: 11011 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth; (209) 245-6556; www.noceto.com

Bella Grace Vineyards: 73 Main Street, Sutter Creek; (209) 267-8053; www.bellagracevineyards.com

Shenandoah Vineyards: 12300 Steiner Road, Plymouth; (209) 245-4455; www.sobonwine.com/shenandoah

Sobon Estate: 14430 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth; (209) 245-4455; www.sobonwine.com/sobonestate

Paul J Wine: 10775 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth

Iron Hub Winery: 12500 Steiner Road, Plymouth; (209) 245-6307; www.ironhubwines.com

Amador Cellars: 11093 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth; (209) 245-6150; www.amadorcellars.com

Events

Behind the Cellar Door: March 3-4; www.amadorwine.com/event/behind-cellar-door-2018

Big Crush Harvest Festival: October; www.amadorwine.com/event/big-crush-harvest-festival-2018

Amador Four Fires: May 5; www.amadorfourfires.com

Barbera Festival: September; www.barberafestival.com

Read the complete article here.