Gold Country is Gold!
~Saturday, June 18, 2022~
Though the mother/daughter time is fleeting, it just keeps getting better and better. Having this alone time with her has been priceless. Actually, I can’t remember the last time it was just the two of us, though it would have been a bonus having my sister here.
Knowing how much my mom enjoys wine tasting, and the fact she’s in close proximity to an amazing wine region, I emailed our friend Brenda to get the 411 on a few spectacular places before arriving in California. Once I received the list, I had 4 wineries on the itinerary, and 2 of the 4 with reservations. Thankyou Brenda!! The Shenandoah Valley in Amador County is only about a 25-minute drive from my mom’s and the drive is absolutely beautiful with rolling hills in their summer time brown hue. But it’s the prominent neat rows of green, healthy vines that take center stage. There’s something about it that seems “old-world” to me, mimicking the way Napa Valley may have been in its earlier days with their quaint tasting rooms and wine-making facilities nestled among scenic back roads. Amador County’s rich history paired with their internationally acclaimed rich reds has really put them on the map, but in an unpretentious way. Today, there are over 40 wineries, many of which produce Old-Vine wines. In fact, about 600 acres of the county’s vines are at least 60 years old. Their signature grape variety over the years has been Red Zinfandel with over 2,000 acres planted, but it is the Italian and southern French varieties like Barbera, Petite Syrah and Syrah that are gaining attention.
Our first stop of the day: Deaver Vineyards, known for their Zinfandels and ports. As we approached their charming tasting room and
large picnic area complete with quiet geese, we were immediately greeted by Laura who was manning the “outside bar” that day. We had a choice of in or out, but with the lovely weather day, the choice was easy. While sipping several styles of sparkling wines, we couldn’t help but notice the delicious smells coming from the food truck offering tater tots, garlic fries and tacos, which we ended up getting a sampling of. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t see these fitting the wine tasting experience, but perhaps more suitable to a brewery. But hey, whatever floats your boat. After sampling a number of varietals, in the end we preferred the sparkling Rose which my mom purchased to share on my sister’s next visit.
Second stop: Rombauer Vineyards. Though my mom had been to their location in St. Helena before, she’s been wanting to check out the newer facility in Amador County. Rombauer is known for fabulous Chardonnay, but also Sauvignon Blanc and Red Zinfandel. We had booked a food/wine-pairing experience where we were given our own table and server, but no introduction to the food portion. Strange. By 1:00 we were a little hungry, but were holding out for the Italian food truck that was part of our last stop of the day. The tasting flight was very good, but thought their wines way overpriced for how they tasted. And our server seemed to be taken aback by my honest critique Cabernet Sauvignon. If I’m asked, I’ll be honest. But the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc were both very delicious. Surprisingly I left with a bottle of their Red Zinfandel instead of the Chardonnay.
Di Stassio Vineyards was also recommended by Brenda, particularly known for their Syrah, Barbera and Red Zinfandel.
We sat on a covered terrace, extended from their Italian inspired tasting room, nestled among 110-year old mission vines. Since we were tasting only reds at this location, we decided it would be good to break up the varietals with their offering of olive oil/balsamic vinegar and bread. The tasting room manager Jessica did a great job describing the wines with her adorable herding dog in tow. Every wine was delicious, with the views and the service spot on! If I had to choose, the Petite Syrah stole my heart, so I went ahead and purchased a bottle to share with Jeff once we returned in the Fall.
Our fourth, final and favorite stop: Iron Hub Winery overlooking the most amazing scenery of planted Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Barbera.
As we were seated by our personal wine guru Larry, he informed us that the Italian Food Truck cancelled on them. What a bummer and something we were really looking forward to. But not to worry. They had an impressive selection of cheeses, flatbreads and nuts
to pair with the wine, which ended up being an adequate late lunch. We scored again with every wine being delicious and the atmosphere and service equally lovely. We also got a kick out of the 2 Australian Shepherd dogs, politely checking every table to see what might be available. Not normally a Semillon girl, I was quite impressed and ended up purchasing a bottle as well as their Old Vine Zinfandel. What a special day and amazing wines. If you haven’t been to Amador County and you love reds, make sure to put it on the list. Now for a nap! After 4 wineries in, I guess that was to be expected.
Being complete zombies, mom and I enjoyed binging on a new series (at least new to us called “God’s Favorite Idiot”, starring Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone. Very strange, but hilarious! And we loved the cast.
The boys back in Montana enjoyed their angler time on the lake in their rented inflatable kayaks.
A nice alternative to the raging rivers due to the latest flooding near Yellowstone. Mother Nature is definitely trying to make a point......."take care of your Mother Earth!!"