As summer comes to an end, the adventures in El Dorado Wine Country are just beginning. Crowds begin to thin and harvest is in full swing. Maybe the best part is that you’ll be using all five senses on your “trip to sip.”
With over 150 years of history steeped in gold and agriculture, the El Dorado region is poised for a newfound resurgence in viticulture. Unique vineyard soils and a high elevation create a superior environment for a vast array of varietals. The region is gaining recognition for its ability to grow quality grapes that exhibit a sense of place.
Here’s an update from the El Dorado Wine Country people I thought you might enjoy. For more information about El Dorado and wines visit www.eldoradowines.org.
Wine lovers and outdoor enthusiasts choose El Dorado Wine Country to sip, swirl, hike and savor a historically rich experience. The county, conveniently located between Sacramento and Reno/Lake Tahoe, has more than 40 unique wineries and 2,000 acres of beautiful vineyard landscape making it the ideal three-day wine country getaway.
El Dorado County encompasses rolling hills and mountainous terrain perfect for year-round outdoor fun. Visitors can explore the region by driving picturesque country roads that wind from sleepy historic mining towns to steep hilltop vineyards.
Adventurous travelers should plan for summer outdoor activities that include hiking, cycling, river rafting, fishing and gold panning. Wine lovers will enjoy an incredible mix of stunning vistas, rugged adventure and Gold Rush history paired with quaint tasting rooms, family-owned wineries and delicious wines.
To help plan your wine tasting adventure, please check out www.eldoradowines.org.
For a perfect three-day wine adventure in El Dorado, here is a suggested itinerary:
Take in the mountainous, magical terrain of Fair Play, nestled in the Sierra Foothills at elevations ranging between 2,000 and 3,000 feet. Picnic, hike, and discover “wines with altitude.”
A short drive south of Placerville, the vineyards in Fair Play are planted in sandy, decomposed granite soils, which are ideal for many grape varieties.
Tip: Enjoy views, which can span nearly 100 miles, from the patio at Mount Aukum Vineyard and Winery. The curvy steep road up to the tasting room is worth the trip to truly experience high elevation winemaking.
Fun Country Drive: The Fair Play area features dramatic transitions – from rolling hills full of oaks into striking mountainous pine forests. Drive Fair Play Road or Perry Creek Road for the complete experience.
Wineries located in or near Fair Play include: Busby Cellars, Cantiga Wineworks, Cedarville Vineyard, Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards, Colibri Ridge Winery & Vineyard, C.G. di Arie, Gold Mountain Winery & Lodge, Gwinllan Estate, Mastroserio Winery, Mount Aukum Winery, Latcham Vineyards, Perry Creek Winery, Saluti Cellars, Shadow Ranch Vineyard, Single Leaf Vineyards & Winery, Skinner Vineyard & Winery, Windwalker Vineyard.
Day 2: Bite into Apple Hill
Enjoy the wine offerings of this bucolic wine area as you take in its agricultural splendor. Some of the area’s most historic and well-known wineries are located in Camino and Apple Hill, which sit just northeast of Placerville.
Foodies will find the diverse agricultural tourism activities a must. Summer brings an array of foods from berries, peaches, pears, plums and an assortment of veggies that can be purchased directly from farmers at local farmers markets. “Whether picking cherries, visiting local ranches, or exploring a range of unique wineries, there is always something new to taste and discover at Apple Hill,” said Ann Wofford, owner of Wofford Acres Vineyards.
Tip: Even the little ones can get in on the you-pick fun. Don’t forget your picking basket.
Fun Country Drive: Apple Hill meanders through old fruit orchards into vineyards hidden among the oak trees. Drive Hidden Valley Lane to capture this magical region.
Wineries in Apple Hill include: Boeger Winery, Bumgarner Winery, Chateau Davell, Crystal Basin Cellars, diVittorio Winery, Fenton Herriott Vineyards, Findelton Estate, Grace Patriot, Illuminare Winery, Jodar Winery, Lava Cap Winery, Madroña Vineyards, Wofford Acres Vineyards.
Day 3: A Perfect Day in Pleasant Valley
Sip, sip, hooray! Delicious Italian and Rhône varietals await visitors at the friendly Pleasant Valley wineries. Located just south of Placerville, Pleasant Valley is marked with rolling hills, small farms and views of the Consumnes River Canyon.
This portion of the region boasts marked elevation changes, which results in impressive displays of the various soils types that make up El Dorado. From granite, volcanic to clay, the region’s soils and elevations create a unique setting for its diverse vineyards.
Tip: Like Syrah, Grenache or Viognier? Try some of the Rhône varieties from this pocket of El Dorado; Pleasant Valley is gaining attention for its Rhône-inspired wines.
Fun Country Drive: this region sits in a valley between two mountain ranges. Drive Pleasant Valley Road to experience the remarkable harmony between mountains, vineyards and agriculture.
Stop at Auriga Wine Cellars, Holly’s Hill Vineyards, Miraflores Winery, Narrow Gate Vineyards, Sierra Vista Vineyards & Winery.
Fun & Favorite Side trip in El Dorado
Tip: Driving north from Placerville on Hwy 49, bring the kids to visit the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma, where James Sutter first discovered gold in 1848. A perfect place for a bike ride, hike or a family picnic.
There are several notable wineries worth the trip in the Greater El Dorado area. They include: Cielo Estate, David Girard Vineyards, Everhart Cellars/Hart2Hart Vineyards, Nello Olivo, Gold Hill Vineyard
“In El Dorado Wine Country, wine, outdoor adventure, and family fun combine to create the ultimate wine lover’s getaway,” said Terrie Prod’hon, owner of Mount Aukum Winery. “It’s a perfect way to enjoy the mountains while exploring amazing, boutique wines. Join us in El Dorado Wine Country.”
*All photos by Allan Kissam unless otherwise noted.