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Spotlight: Gold Country Wineries

Zinfandel and the Gold Country

Zinfandel and the Gold Country Zinfandel is the signature variety of the Sierra Foothills Gold Country, and it has been produced here since the mid-1860s, not long after wine production was ignited by the 1848 Gold Rush. After the mines began to run dry, many gold miners turned to grape-growing as an alternate profession.

Located in the western foothills of the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range, many local vineyards are planted on hillsides above 1,000 feet in elevation, in volcanic, decomposed granite soils. These conditions, combined with the region's warm climate and high incidence of old vines, produce intensely flavored grapes, which local vintners turn into rich, robust red wines.

Sierra foothill vintners makes excellent syrah, barbera, and sangiovese, but the region's trademark wine remains the spicy, fruity, robust Zinfandel, a perfect complement to hearty foods such as grilled lamb, spicy sausages, and tomato-based pastas.


Spotlight: Gold Country Wineries

Gold Country / Sierra Foothills Regions

Gold Country / Sierra Foothills Regions Winemaking came to the Sierra Foothills region with the Gold Rush, as the miners, predominantly European, planted grapevines upon their arrival. Once the gold began to dwindle, many turned to grape-growing. A far more prominent wine region than Napa and Sonoma at the time, the Sierra Foothills, by the 1870s, boasted over 100 wineries. Regrettably, Prohibition extinguished this frontier wine community, which did not revive until the 1970s, when a new generation of vintners flocked to the foothills.

The heart of the Sierra Foothills Gold Country wine growing region is comprised of four counties. From north to south, they are Nevada, El Dorado, Amador, and Calaveras. Together, they are home to over 50 wineries.

Amador, with its volcanic soils, warm climate, and old vines, is famous for its spicy, hearty, fruity red Zinfandels. (The Amador Vintner's Association web site provides extensive information on Amador wines, wineries, and special events.) By comparison, El Dorado boasts higher elevations and a cooler climate, supporting a wider array of varieties. The smaller appellations of Calaveras and Nevada County also produce high-quality wines.


Spotlight: Gold Country Lodging

Amador County Bed & Breakfasts

Amador County Bed and Breakfasts For the wine lover, few destinations are as ideal for a weekend getaway as Amador County, which boasts many charming bed-and-breakfast inns. Amador County is situated in the heart of the Sierra Foothills Gold Country. As you approach Amador from either south or north, enjoy the splendors of historic Highway 49, which traverses quaint country valleys and offers lovely views of the Sierra Nevadas.

Once you arrive at your B&B, you will be greeted by gracious staff, luxurious accommodations, and deluxe breakfasts. For day trips, enjoy the authentic charm of Amador towns such as Jackson, Sutter Creek, Amador City, and Volcano, many of which still feature historic, 19th-century buildings. Along with the history, enjoy Amador's lovely scenery, charming shops, fine dining, and premier wines, as well as a warm, soft bed at the end of the day.