Looking for something different in wine country travel? Why not try the Gold Country of the Sierra Foothills. We make a trip to this region at least once a year and have discovered some very amazing wineries producing high quality wines equal to anywhere in California. In this trip, we introduce this region by exploring Amador and El Dorado Counties, both with a long history of wines but under the radar of most wine country travelers. Our headquarters for this wine country getaways is the best little town in Gold Country, Sutter Creek.
There are several good B&B’s in Sutter Creek but our favorite is the Hanford House Inn. Four years ago, Robert and Athena Gordon purchased the Inn and brought tender, loving care to this B & B. You are sure to find your stay here, which includes a gourmet breakfast, relaxed and enjoyable. For more lodging choices, see our list of recommended for places to stay in the area.
Sutter Creek’s main street is just a few blocks long but there are many things to see and do. Take a stroll through the quaint few blocks of Sutter Creek. Be sure to head down Eureka Street and work your way around the backside of town. You will see some historic buildings and surely find a few stores or shops to peak your interest.
The only thing lacking in Sutter Creek is a fancy gourmet restaurant, but ten minutes away in Plymouth is Taste Restaurant. Reservations are recommended for this bustling and popular dining spot. In Sutter Creek for dining, we recommend Susan’s Place on Eureka or the Twisted Fork on Main Street. Robert and Athena are hoping to add a restaurant section to their Inn in the near future.
There are many wineries to visit in this growing wine region and for the first-time visitor to this wine country, it is not easy to decide which wineries to visit and taste. We mapped out a two-day excursion to a select a few wineries that are sure to give you a feel for this emerging wine country. Many of the wineries in this area have wonderful picnic areas, so if the weather is decent, plan a picnic lunch. The best deli around is in Plymouth, the Amador Vintage Market. The deli has a Website where one can pre order for pick up on the way to wine country.
Day One – The Shenandoah Valley in Amador County
From Sutter Creek head to Plymouth and take a right turn at the end of Plymouth onto Shenandoah Road. Veer to the left at the fork, continue about a mile and take a right turn onto Shenandoah School Road. One of the first wineries you will see is Wilderotter Vineyard. We love the Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc here but all their wines are nicely done. The tasting room is cozy with great views of the vineyards. Continue on Shenandoah School Road as it sweeps above the valley. The views are stunning as you travel along this road that brings you back to Shenandoah Road. Cooper Vineyards is another one of our favorite wineries and is about 2 miles from Wilderotter on Shenandoah School Road. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, you are sure to find a dazzling wine among the many varietals that are made at Cooper.
Turn left on Shenandoah Road and look for Andis Wines on the left about a mile away. This winery opened in late 2010 and is worth a look. We found the wines to be of high quality and especially enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc. Almost directly across the street on Dickson Road is the Vino Noceto Winery. This winery is noted for its Sangiovese and Barbera. You can also enjoy a game of Bocce while sipping a glass of red.
Day Two – The Wineries of Fair Play in El Dorado County
Today, head out early after breakfast to El Dorado and the Fair Play wine region. It is home to twenty wineries but again we pick our favorites. Follow our map below from Sutter Creek to Fair Play. Allow for about 30 to 40 minutes to get there. Once you get onto Fair Play Road, watch for the entrance to Skinner Vineyards on the left. Go up the hill to the beautiful new tasting room. Enjoy the views and the fantastic Rhone wines produced by Skinner. If the day is nice, this is the perfect picnic spot.
Continue to Fair Play Road about a mile and a half to Cedarville Vineyard. Cedarville shares an entrance with Single Leaf Winery. You will need an appointment to visit this winery but this is one winery in El Dorado County that is not to be missed. The wines are extremely well made and exciting. If they have the Grenache available, consider yourself lucky. This wine sells out quickly.
Our last recommended stop on this getaway is Cantiga Wineworks. Head left on Fair Play and then a right on Mount Aukum Road to Moody Road (see map). Cantiga Wineworks is one of the most fascinating wineries in the area. The wines are very different here and made to go with foods. We love the Chardonnay wines and the Zinfandel. You are likely to find either winemaker Rich Rorden or his wife Christine Rorden working the tasting room. What a treat!
View Sutter Creek – Gold Country Wineries in a larger map