Amador is in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in central California. It’s roughly 100 miles east of both San Francisco and Napa Valley and 40 miles east of the state capitol of Sacramento.
Approximately two hours.
From the Bay Area, take Highway 80 towards Sacramento, then Highway 50 toward South Lake Tahoe, and Highway 16 to Plymouth. See Directions for specifics.
About one hour’s drive.
The first wineries in Amador arose shortly after the discovery of gold in 1849.
Many of the early vintners were originally gold miners, many of them from Europe.
40, most in the northern part of the county near the town of Plymouth.
Amador is a warm region similar to St. Helena and Calistoga in northern Napa Valley; however, breezes from the Sierra Nevada mountains cause temperatures to drop 30-35 degrees at night, which helps maintain high acidity in the grapes.
Amador’s vineyards are planted on hillsides ranging between 500 and 2,300 feet, with most between 1,200 and 2,000. The vines are planted in well-drained, volcanic, decomposed granite soils, which limit vegetative growth and result in small crops of intensely flavored grapes. The region’s high degree of solar luminosity also ensures full ripening.
Yes, a higher percentage of grapes are farmed organically in Amador than in any other California wine region.
Zinfandel is the leading variety, with over two-thirds of the vine acreage, but Aglianico, Barbera, Grenache, Marsanne, Mouvedre, Petite Sirah, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, Zinfandel also are prominent.
Amador is warmer, at a lower elevation, and makes bigger, bolder red wines.
Many are produced from old vines – i.e., 50 years or older – which results in especially concentrated grape and wine flavors.
With the bountiful variety of 45 wineries, you may recognize the following wineries from national distribution as they are well-known to wine aficionados both domestic and abroad: Domaine de la Terre Rouge, Montevina, Renwood, Shenandoah Vineyards, Sobon Estate, Turley Wine Cellars, and Vino Noceto.