Now that we’ve introduced you to Amador County, it’s time to start planning your Winetraveler adventure through the region’s 3,700 acres of vines and more than 40 wineries. The AVA includes two sub-appellations — the Shenandoah Valley of California to the North and Fiddletown to the East.

Once nearly exclusively dedicated to Zinfandel, today Amador County produces a wide array of grapes suited for the warmer climate, especially those of Italian and southern French origin, including: Barbera, Aglianico, Teroldego, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Graziano, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Petit Sirah. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Marsanne can also be found, but in smaller amounts.

Amador County is a laid-back region with all but one winery open for walk-in tastings, as well as a plethora of outdoor activities. The suggestions in this itinerary will take you through the region and offer a cross-section of the wine styles and varieties produced in this off-the-beaten-path destination.

Great Wineries To Visit Around Amador County on a Self-Guided Tour

Terra d’ Oro

With 400 acres of estate vines—including several historic, old-vine vineyards—Terra d’ Oro produces Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Chenin Viognier, Barbera, Sangiovese, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and more. The winery is a significant part of the County’s long history, established more than 150 years ago. Open seven days a week from 10:30 to 4:15, Terra d’ Oro only requires reservations for groups of six or more, otherwise, you can walk in anytime. They offer two flights: the market wine flight for $5 and a reserve wine flight for $10. They produce 25 to 28 wines each year and of that, only eight go to market. The remainder are only available here in the tasting room.

Winetraveler Tip: The boutique hotel, Rest, is very near Terra d’ Oro and offers rooms, a car service and a high-end restaurant with an outstanding wine list.


Holgate Hill

A boutique winery located in Jackson, California, the husband and wife team at Holgate Hill specialize in small lot production wines grown in the Sierra Foothills. Representative of the region’s philosophies, they are dedicated to giving people a product that they can depend on, enjoy fully, without breaking the bank. The tasting room is located in historic Amador City and is open for tastings Friday through Sunday, Noon until 6 p.m.


Little John Lane & End of Nowhere

At Little John Lane, California-native and a NYC certified Somm, Chris Walsh is committed to practicing organic farming and treating the land with more than a little love. All grapes are estate grown and the wines reflect his commitment to the land. Chris also runs the End of Nowhere label through which he showcases grapes grown by other small farmers in the Sierra Foothills, with a goal of approaching well-known varietals in a different way to express their full range. The wines are fermented with native yeasts, not fined, filtered or modified. The tasting room is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Additional times are available by appointment.

“I grew up in these hills, and I’ll do whatever it takes to preserve them for future generations, even if that means I spend a lot more time on my knees pulling weeds.”


Amador Cellars

A family-run winery, Amador Cellars showcases Mediterranean wines, Tuscan architecture and a friendly tasting room staff. The winery produces estate-grown Zinfandel and Italian, Spanish and Rhone Valley varietals that express varietal character and the land on which the grape are grown. The wines are unfined and unfiltered and Amador Cellars is one of the only wineries in California to still use a wooden basket press; enabling a gentle press for the most subtle flavors with a full, round mouthfeel. The tasting room is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Dillian

Tom Dillian is a fourth generation Amador County farmer. His great grandfather, Alessio Dal Porto, first purchased this land in 1917. Tom, his twin brother Bill, and older brother, Jerry, replanted the original vineyard with Zinfandel grapes in 1972, and in 2003 Dillian Wines opened its doors. Most of the vineyards are dry land farmed, using little to no irrigation, and head-trained vines to limit yield and maximize the flavor and quality of the fruit. The tasting room is open Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Turley Wine Cellars

Turley Wine Cellars makes 47 wines from over 50 vineyards, the vast majority of which are single vineyard designate Zinfandels and Petite Sirahs. By focusing on old vine vineyards Turley aims to create and preserve California’s unique winemaking culture. The vineyards are either certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers or are in the certification process. Like several of the aforementioned wineries, Turley uses only natural yeasts in the fermentations. The tasting room is open for walk-ins daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For private tastings or groups of eight or more, appointments are required.


Yorba

Bearing the legacy of four generations of Yorba citrus growers in Southern California, the Kraemer Family carries on the tradition at Yorba Wines. On a beautiful, secluded ranch in Amador County, Shake Ridge Vineyards is the culmination of experience, thoughtful design, and hard work. Yorba offers four distinct varietals – Barbera, Zinfandel, Syrah and. The tasting room is open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers both indoor and outdoor areas for sitting back with a glass.


Vino Noceto

Vino Noceto is where Italian inspiration collides with California sunshine to produce world class Sangiovese, in fact, eight different Sangiovese wines! The family-owned winery also produces an old vine Zinfandel, a slightly sparkling Moscato, Barbera, a Tuscan red blend, and Pinot Grigio among others. Vino Noceto is one of only three Sierra Foothill wineries to be recognized by California’s Waste Reductions Awards Program (WRAP), and was the first winery in the Sierra Foothills to be Certified Sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. The winery was also among the first solar-powered wineries in the Sierra Foothills—in fact, 100% of the power to the winery and tasting room is solar generated. The tasting room is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tastings for groups of eight or more, private tastings and tours are available by appointment.


Convergence Vineyards

Run by a husband and wife team, Convergence is named for the three local creeks, Amador, Rancheria and Dry Creek, which all converge on the property. The wines at Convergence include  Barbera, Primitivo/Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malvasia, Estate Zinfandel Port, and four blends. Production is small and some varieties may be sold out during parts of the year. The tasting room is open Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lage groups are welcome by appointment only.


Jeff Runquist Wines

Jeff Runquist Wines is a small producer of single-vineyard designated red table wines from throughout California. The winery and tasting room can be found in the heart of the Sierra Foothills, in Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley. Jeff Runquist personally travels throughout California to find the right grapes for his vineyard designated wines. The winery produces 22 different red varietals from nine appellations including Zinfandel from estate vines planted in 1890. The tasting room is open Thursday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Limos and groups of six or more are by appointment only.


More Ways To Explore California’s Wine Country

An Introduction To California’s Amador County Wine Region

Meet Terra d’Oro Winemaker Emily Haines

How To Explore Sonoma’s Bohemian Highway in the Russian River Valley

The Perfect Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip Itinerary

Essential Santa Barbara Itinerary & Travel Guide

3 Stunning Stops To Make Driving from Los Angeles To Napa

Sonoma County Weekend Travel Guide


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Kristy Wenz
Wine / Travel Writer & WSET III Candidate at Winetraveler
Kristy Wenz is a Wine & Travel Writer for Winetraveler. She is a writer, entrepreneur, wine lover and avid traveler. She first developed a passion for wine travel at random in Southern California. Since that first experience, Kristy has explored wineries in over 20 states from coast-to-coast as well as multiple European wine regions. When she's not writing about wine, wine traveling or updating her cellar in Vivino, she can likely be found sipping a Cab Franc from her travels while cooking dinner with her family.
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Comments ( 2 )

  1. You left out the top-rated winery in the Sierra Foothills & Amador County, Terre Rouge & Easton Wines, so this is hardly a ten essential winery list. It is one of my favorite wineries on the West Coast. How did that happen? Were they closed the day Kristy Wenz toured the region? There Zinfandels and Rhone varietals are among the best in California. They make a wine I collect called Ascent Syrah that is the most consistantly highest wine in the region. I live in Sutter Creek and feel lucky I can visit their tasting room easily. Hello!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristy Wenz is a Wine & Travel Writer for Winetraveler. She is a writer, entrepreneur, wine lover and avid traveler. She first developed a passion for wine travel at random in Southern California. Since that first experience, Kristy has explored wineries in over 20 states from coast-to-coast as well as multiple European wine regions. When she's not writing about wine, wine traveling or updating her cellar in Vivino, she can likely be found sipping a Cab Franc from her travels while cooking dinner with her family.

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