Explore the Amador Wine Country
By Kathy Howe
Amador County is a pleasing alternative to the crowds and high prices of Napa Valley. Located in the foothills of California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, Amador County has much to offer. The rural roads, mountain air, and beautiful scenery make it the perfect setting for a California Wine Tour.
Most wineries offer complimentary wine tasting. An added bonus: the wines are much cheaper than those you'll find for sale in Napa. You can sample a variety of great wines and you'll be able to afford to bring some bottles of wine home to enjoy later.
Amador County has a high percentage of old Zinfandel vines. Some of the Zinfandel vineyards are more than 125 years old. These old Zinfandel vines produce intense flavors, allowing wine makers to make the outstanding Zinfandel for which the area is famous.
Amador is recognized for its world class Zinfandel, but you will find many other varietals being produced here as well. More than 35 wineries have wine tasting rooms in Amador.
The majority of Amador wineries are located in the northern part of the county in the Shenandoah Valley near the small town of Plymouth. As you turn onto Shenandoah Road from Plymouth, the first winery you come to is Young's Vineyard. This winery offers premium red wines in a lovely setting. Every wine we taste here is wonderful. It's definitely worth a stop.
Vino Noceto, also on Shenandoah Road, is the place to go if you enjoy Sangiovese. This winery specializes in Sangiovese. Sweet wine lovers will like their Moscato Frivolo, a light Muscat.
Turn onto Steiner Road, where many more wineries are located. Renwood Winery is a must stop for Zinfandel lovers. Their award winning Zinfandel will please even the most discriminating Zin enthusiast. Amador Foothill Winery is a small family winery with wonderful Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Barbera. The owner is usually serving the wine and is both friendly and knowledgeable.
If you pack your own lunch, Deaver Vineyards (next door to Renwood) is a lovely place to have a picnic. This winery has an expansive lawn area, a small lake, and picnic tables scattered under the trees. After enjoying your lunch, you can wander into the tasting room and sample some of their outstanding California style Port.
Story Winery on Bell Road would be another choice for a picnic. This winery provides a breathtaking view of the Consumnes River Canyon. Story is also known for their great Zinfandels and friendly staff.
The Bistro at Villa Toscano (back on Shenandoah Road) has scrumptious salads, sandwiches, and soups for sale. The lovely Tuscan style winery has tables outside where you can enjoy the fountains and vineyard views as you enjoy your lunch. Villa Toscano has wonderful Barbera and Old Vine Zinfandel. There's always barrel tasting with futures available for sale. The gift shop has unique and tasteful home décor items as well.
When the wineries have closed for the day, there's a new restaurant called Taste located in downtown Plymouth. This small restaurant, opened only for dinner on Thursdays-Mondays, offers fine dining that is both tasty and creative. Reservations are recommended, (209) 245-3463. This restaurant is owned by Mark and Tracey Barkner, former owners of the St. George Hotel in Volcano. The opening of Taste was eagerly anticipated and has been a popular dining choice since its opening.
If you're lucky enough to spend more than a day in Amador County, you might want to explore some of the other things to do. Possibilities include hiking, horseback riding, golf, water sports, white water rafting, boating, fishing, snow skiing, golf panning, cave exploration, and antique shopping.
Amador County Wine Country has wine tasting opportunities and much more. Plan a visit soon to one of California's great wine regions.
About the Author
Kathy Howe and her husband, Steve, spend much of their free time tasting and enjoying wine. Their interest in wine is reflected in their Web Site, http://www.cheers2wine.com – a Comprehensive Guide to the California Wine Country.
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