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Amador County Wine

Amador County, in the heart of California's once-thriving gold-mining country, basks in its history and holds on to the promise of a newly growing industry which might prove to be its next precious commodity: wine. Although the county AVA is seldom used, all local vineyards qualify for the well-known Sierra Foothills AVA and those which fall within the Shenandoah Valley and Fiddletown AVAs enjoy the privilege of using these more 'niche', location-specific titles.

Here in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, 40 miles (64km) east of the state capital, Sacramento, the landscape is classically Californian: rugged and picturesque, elevated and undulating. Most vineyards in Amador County are planted at altitudes of 1200–2000ft (365–609m) on sun-drenched hillsides. Hot, sunny days turn to cool evenings, bringing breezes which blow down from the Sierra Nevada. This drop in temperatures allows the grapes time to close down their ripening processes overnight, retaining the acidity required to create balanced wines. The freshening breezes are also essential for ventilating the vineyards and helping keep fungal diseases at bay.

Vineyards in Amador County
© Giacomo Panicacci

The most noteworthy soils in Amador are of iron-rich decomposed granite. They are often laced with sandy clay loam, enabling them to retain water and stay hydrated despite the area's limited rainfall. These are ideal conditions for cultivating high-quality wine grapes, as the vines are forced to grow deep, strong root systems. A high percentage of the area's vines are grown organically.

Wine growing has been an important part of the local economy for more than 150 years, and currently accounts for roughly 50% of the county's agriculture. The first wineries in Amador County were established in 1849, riding the wave of the California Gold Rush. Today there are many ancient Zinfandel vines still producing ripe, robust, earthy and spicy wines with an added dose of chocolate and dark-red berries.

Although Zinfandel reigns supreme in Amador, the region also produces high-quality wines from the likes of Italian favorites Sangiovese and Barbera, and Rhone Valley stalwarts Syrah and Viognier.

Barbera wines from Amador County tend to be full and round, with notes of black cherry, plum and blueberry, silky tannins and toasty, nutty characters. Syrah tends to be ripe and jammy, and more like Australian Shiraz than classic Rhone Syrah. Interestingly, the region also makes dessert wine from various members of the extended Muscat grape family, and port-style wines from Portuguese varieties as well as Zinfandel.

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We found 277 wines produced in this region.
Wine Name
Grape 
Popularity
Keplinger Lithic, Amador County, USA Grenache - Mourvedre - Syrah $63 4900
Jeff Runquist 1448, Amador County, USA Petite Sirah - Syrah - Zinfandel $16 5074
Montevina Winery Terra d'Oro Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $15 6666
Domaine de la Terre Rouge Easton Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $18 7521
Sobon Estate Old Vines Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $13 10296
Renwood Old Vine Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $16 11344
Folie a Deux Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Petite Sirah - Zinfandel $16 13361
Four Vines The Maverick Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $18 14289
Jeff Runquist Z Massoni Ranch Vineyard Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Petite Sirah - Zinfandel $23 14370
Keplinger Sumo, Amador County, USA Syrah (Shiraz) - Viognier $70 15432
Favia Rompecabezas, Amador County, USA Grenache - Mourvedre - Syrah $95 16227
Montevina Winery Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $10 18412
Montevina Winery Terra d'Oro Zinfandel Port, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $20 18696
Montevina Winery White Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $6 18737
Montevina Winery Barbera, Amador County, USA Barbera $10 21085
Favia Quarzo Syrah, Amador County, USA Syrah $66 21534
Trinchero Zinfatuation Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $11 22422
Karly Wines Pokerville Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $11 23138
Renwood Grandmere Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $38 23653
Montevina Winery Terra d'Oro Barbera, Amador County, USA Barbera $20 25621
Amador Foothill Winery Clockspring Vineyard Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $16 27410
Jeff Runquist R Barbera, Amador County, USA Barbera $25 28699
Renwood Vintage Port, Amador County, USA Port Blend Red $25 28699
Montevina Winery Terra d'Oro Deaver 100 Year Old Vine Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $21 29759
Sobon Estate 'ReZerve Zin' Zinfandel, Amador County, USA Zinfandel $25 30227
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