Just an hour east of Sacramento you’ll find Amador County. Here you have an ever growing wine region, new breweries popping up and tasty places to grab a bite. It is the perfect day trip adventure out of Sacramento.
If you’re a bit of a wino you might have heard of it, but for most folks this area has stayed off the map. The great part is you get all the quality of visiting wine country without the hassle and costs that tourism brings. Most wineries still do free tastings and you are unlikely to find a tasting fee over $5. The region is heavy with Zinfandel and Barbera. If you haven’t tried Barbera yet, it is a bold Italian red. I love it and you’ll find a handful of rich ones around the area.
Within Amador County, you will find a few smaller areas. You can visit a few or just one, either way can make a good day. Do all wineries or throw in a brewery. Bring some picnic supplies or pop into a restaurant. You can make up countless itineraries in this area and just keep coming back.
Amador City is a tiny spot that is one of those places left back in time. A gold rush town that still feels like you’re walking into 1849. With cute shops, winery tasting rooms and some restaurants it is a good place to spend an afternoon.
A cute tasting room run by a husband and wife. Their wines are delicious, including ones they made me love varietals I normally dislike. Stop by for a tasting or one of the music events they host throughout the year.
Up on a hill just about Amador City you’ll find Wine Tree Farm. The wines are unique as the winemaker focuses on using a few varietals and mixing them different ways to create different flavor profiles.
A cute bakery right in downtown. Grab a coffee and pastry in the morning or a sandwich for lunch. The old house it is in makes a perfect spot to relax.
With a few dozen wineries, it is hard to go wrong in the Shenandoah Valley. Tucked up a little north of Amador City and just a few miles further than Plymouth. Here you blend two beautiful types of landscape, vineyards and agricultural, making gorgeous views. This is a great area to tour wineries since there are many within a short drive of each other and enough diversity that you can always add some new ones into your route.
One of my favorite spots in the region. They are known for high-quality big reds. Jeff Runquist the winemaker can often be found around the property chatting about the wines. If I could only pick one it would be the Pinot Noir. Made with a bolder style than most Pinot it is a delight.
Just up the road you will find Vino Noceto who plays to my love of Italian wines. Their property is gorgeous and good for a picnic. They focus on Sangiovese, which is the grape used in Chianti. If you like your wine a little sweeter they have the perfect one for you, Frivolo, done in a Moscato di Asti style.
On top of the hill in the valley, you’ll find my favorite property, Helwig. They have a theater set up where they hold concerts during the summer, there are countless weddings each year, and the view is stunning. If you’re looking for a place to splurge, their cave tour or wine and food pairing tour are well worth it.
On your way up to Shenandoah, you’ll drive through Plymouth. If you’re looking for a sit-down place to eat this area is your best bet. Try one of their diners Main Street Grill or Speeds Diner for some casual but tasty fare. Also change it up a bit with some beer or cider tasting to go with all that wine.
A new addition to the region, Amador Brewing Company finds the balance between pleasing those who love hops without turning away those who don’t. Their beers are smooth and flavorful but range on the palette. They also often have food trucks and BBQ spots hanging around cooking up delicious food.
The perfect last stop on your way out of Amador County. Their tasting room has a beautiful view looking out towards the valley and their wines are flavorful. What makes them unique is they also carry a line of dry ciders. These are much closer to wine than the sweet stuff you find in a bar and are a nice way to end your day of wine tasting.
Tasting A Little Of Everything
Amador County really does have a little of everything. Enjoy the wine, beer and ciders the region has to offer. You can pop up to the brewery for lunch, spending an afternoon exploring the wineries, or one of my favorite trips with a group of girlfriends and we hired a limo and took or moms out for the day.
Enjoy exploring a beautiful and diverse wine region without all the fuss that can come along with it. Just try not to do too much in one day, or go with the driver option.