Five Gems of the Amador Wine Country

    Amador wine country doesn’t possess the international acclaim that its nearby Napa and Sonoma neighbors boast, but for those who live in the Sacramento region and for anyone who has spent a day in these beautiful Sierra foothills wineries knows – the Amador wine-tasting experience is second to none. The more than 30 wineries in Amador County all embody their own unique vibe and pour delicious wines in comfortable venues with incredibly scenic backdrops. What Amador wine country lacks in size, it makes up for in down-home charm. Every winery is owned and operated by a family that cares and takes the time to make every guest feel like they are the only ones that exists – as  if the winery was put there specifically just for them. It’s not rare at an Amador winery to see the owners walking around chatting with their guests, describing their Amador wines and eagerly listening to feedback. There is still a strong connection between the owners and their guests that hasn’t succumbed to some of the more mass produced wine-tasting experiences to be found closer to the California coast.

    Sacramento residents head slightly east up the highway, and can quickly reach this unique and welcoming collection of Amador wineries.  They are smaller scale, evoking a seemingly “mom and pop” shop feel that makes you want to come back again and again.  And to top it off, the wines they serve are GOOD. Like, award-winning good. Amador wine country is know for its fantastic Barberas, and fruity Zin’s as well as its eye opening Viogner’s.

    For just a taste of what the region has to offer, here are five Amador wineries that combine some of the best traits and best tastes. Well worth a visit, and you may even find yourself joining a wine club or two as an excuse to become an Amador regular.

    A&A’s Top 5 Picks in the Amador Wine Country 

    1. Jeff Runquist:  Amador wine country is known for its Barbera, and Jeff Runquist does it the best. He is one of those special wine makers that puts his love and his passion into every bottle he produces. He knows what area to get the best grapes from, and then makes magic happen. Jeff Runquist does not own his own vines, but instead he pulls the best grapes from the best areas to produce some of the best Barberas, Zinfandel’s, and Sangioviese’s known in California. He says, “We know our strengths and prefer to focus our resources on producing wines that reflect the passion of the growers with whom we partner.” The winery itself is one of a kind, with a barn-like feel that welcomes you with open arms. It has plenty of room inside, and ample outside seating so you can soak up some of the Sierra foothills beauty while enjoying a fruity Zin. Runquist Winery is truly a gem in the heart of Amador wine country that has everything you look for in a small family-owned winery.

    To visit their fantastic site, go here

    2. Cooper Vineyards: As soon as you pull into Cooper vineyards you feel as if you are arriving at a small French winery in the heart of the Rhone Valley. With impressive trees and vines as far as the eye can see, you are surrounded by beauty as you make new friends and enjoy every sip of wine. As you enter the small but comfortable tasting room, you look around and see wine barrels to your left, a wine bar to the right, and a 1930’s Indian brand motorcycle above it all. Dick Cooper and his family have been growing grapes in the Amador wine country for over 30 years. He has been one of the region’s major growers and for years sold his grapes to other wineries. Then about 15 years ago he decided he would take a swing at making wine, and he hit it out of the park. His Barbera and Petite Sirah are big hitters on the red side, while his Roussanne and Viogner tone it down on the white side. Cooper Vineyards is also big enough to hold events such as “Behind the Cellar Door,” which provides Amador wine for tasting before it is bottled – a delicious way to enjoy wines straight from the barrel to your glass.

    To visit their fantastic site, click here

    3. Renwood: One of the most recognized wineries in the region is Renwood, which offers an amazing Zinfandel and so much more. It is spectacularly situated amongst Amador’s rolling hills and rushing streams. It has a wine tasting area that would make any winery jealous and a gift shop that sells everything from jams to kitchen utensils. The outdoor patio is the perfect place to spend the day while you order a plethora of things to accompany your wine. There are cheeses and charcuterie that will make your mouth water. This winery stands out not just for its fantastic wine, but also for the wonderful treatment you get when you are there. Renwood is a must visit when in the Amador wine country.

    To visit their fantastic site, click here

    4. Wilderotter: Jay Wilderotter has built this gem with a Mediterranean feel and a dog friendly approach to wine tasting. You will often find two dogs lounging around the winery or coming up to you to say hi and play fetch. At Wilderotter, you don’t just get to taste, you get an education. Their staff takes the time to educate you about their wines while you sip and learn. Wilderotter’s Barberas are as strong as all Barberas are in Amador, but this winery is known for its whites. Their Viogner and Sauvignon Blanc are perfect summer wines that make you want to sit outside by a pool or lake all day. They also have a fantastic desert wine called Vin Doux with just the right amount of sweetness and could be easily paired with a cheesecake or creme brulee. Wildrotter embodies the good wine and good charm feel that makes Amador wine country so special.

    To visit their fantastic site, click here

    5. C.G. DiArie: Billing itself as a “Mecca of Zinfandelegence,” C.G. DiArie is of course known for their Zins, but they don’t stop there. They produce wonderful Verdelho, which is a Spanish grape, and a robust mix of two different Syrahs. This is one of the most tranquil wineries you will find in California. You can either picnic under the huge oak trees or enjoy the beautiful koi pond that is fed by a soothing waterfall. When you walk the grounds of this Amador winery you feel at peace and ease with your surroundings, what more can you ask for when you taste Amador wine. C.G. DiArie is a winery that puts quality on display in everything they do.



    Time to Wine and Dine!

    These five wineries offer some of the best wine tasting experiences in the region.  Amador wine country is considered an “up and comer” in the wine world and one day may have the fame of other California wine hot spots. I would think that even when that happens, these wineries will still embody the laid back, comfortable feeling that accompanies their amazing wines, to create such an appealing destination. Have you visited any of these? What were your thoughts and feedback? Let us know if we missed any that should have made the list.

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