Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Winetasting in Amador County's Shenandoah Valley - Part I, The Wineries
The August 2007 edition of "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron's free newsletter of fun things to do in the Bay Area and Northern California, focused on winetasting in the Shenandoah Valley of California. Located about 2.5 hours east of San Francisco, this wine region produces mostly red wine from grapes that like hot weather, e.g., Zinfandel and Barbera.
This past weekend, I had a chance to return to the Shenandoah Valley and saw that many things had remained the same while a few new wineries had opened. What I like best about this region is that most of the wineries are still low-key, family-run affairs. Tasting rooms are modest and fees largely nonexistent. Staff is friendly and the owners and/or winemakers frequently pour your wine. Even on Saturday, you are unlikely to find the crowds that frequent wineries closer to San Francisco. With most bottles priced between $15 and $30, you are unlikely to break the bank with your wine purchases. Plus the drive is very pretty; with rolling hills and vineyards full of gnarly old vines.
A good place to start your visit is at Amador 360°, Wine and Visitor Center in the town of Plymouth, gateway to the Shenandoah Valley. Gregg, the friendly owner, will pour you some wines from wineries that do not have tasting rooms in the Valley and orient you to the area. He's a wealth of information on all things Amador.
On this visit, we tasted at wineries that we didn't get to on our previous trip. We enjoyed many good Barberas, Zinfandels, Sangioveses, and Syrahs and bought way too much wine. Some of our favorites included Scott Harvey (tasting room in Sutter Creek), Sera Fina (tasting rooms at the winery and at Cinque in Sutter Creek), Dillian, Cooper, Driven, Terra Rouge, Andis, and Jeff Runquist. On our previous visit, we enjoyed Karly, Story, Deaver, Shenandoah Vineyards, Sobon Estate, Vino Nocetto, and Wilderotter (largest selection of white wines in the Valley). The Amador Vintners website has lots of good information on the wineries. Before you go, check each winery's hours as many tasting rooms are open only on certain days.
My next post will focus on lodging and restaurants in the area. Meanwhile, if you would like to take a private tour of Amador wine country starting in San Francisco, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.