Getaway to the Sierra Foothills Wine Country

Looking out on the Shenandoah Valley from the Andis Winery

Sierra Foothills Wine Country Do you travel to the California wine country? Most likely you have been to Napa Valley and Sonoma.  A getaway to the Sierra Foothills Wine Country is a vastly different experience.  It is much more fun and rewarding. Don’t get me wrong; I love the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley wine … Read more

Green Manure at Cedarville Vineyard

green manure

Green Manure Cover Crop Cedarville Vineyard – Zinfandel Around this time of year, it is easy to spot the vineyards that are practicing sustainable and organic farming. The telltale signs are the rows of green plants growing in between the vines. These are called cover crops or green manure. Their purpose is to provide nitrogen … Read more

Cedarville Vineyard: getting better with age

Only one white wine is produced and that is a lovely and enticing Viognier. In the reds, Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel varietals are produced. Two years ago Cedarville introduced a blend called Turnabout’s Fair Play. Very clever!

The new and improved Hanford House Inn

The colors on the walls are gorgeous and each room blends gracefully into the other. Our second floor room was simply furnished and very comfortable and inviting. Breakfast was outstanding. Not being an Eggs Benedict fan, I was totally surprised with the mellowness of the Meyer Lemon sauce. Delicious.

Wine Adventures in the Fair Play AVA in El Dorado County

It was ten years ago that we first began making an annual trip to this wonderful wine country in the Sierra Foothills. Much has changed in that time, with many more wineries having been established in recent years, and very noticeable improvement in the quality of wines from this region.

Our base for our visit to the Sierra Foothills is the town of Sutter Creek. We consider it to be the best little town in the Gold Country of the Sierra Foothills. The town is quaint with many small shops, restaurants and other attractions. We make our home at the Hanford House Inn in Sutter Creek where owners Robert and Athena Gordon are very gracious hosts. On our annual trek to these parts, we always spend one full day exploring the wineries in the Fair Play AVA. It is about a 35-minute drive to Fair Play. The Fair Play AVA located in El Dorado County has the unique geographic feature of having the highest average elevation of any of the AVA’s in California. The average elevation is 2500 feet. Here are three wineries we enjoyed immensely in our visit the past week.

Cedarville Vineyards
Cedarville is always at the top of our list of wineries to visit. Owners Jonathan and Susan are a terrific winemaking team and they put their hearts and souls into making some fantastic wines. The emphasis is on Rhone wines, and in my opinion all their wines deliver high quality at a very reasonable price point. The wines are very balanced and layered, with many delicate characteristics. The winery is open by appointment, so call ahead before visiting. We tasted through the lineup of wines and once again were totally impressed with the overall quality. I must declare that their current release of the 2009 Syrah is the best they have made, and we have tried all their Syrah vintages. The other Rhone wines in their lineup include an organically grown Viognier, a Grenache, and a Petite Sirah. They also make a dazzling Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. All wines are estate grown except for the Petite Sirah. Their Grenache has become somewhat of a cult wine and sells out quickly once released and announced through their mailings.

Jonathan Lachs and Susan Marks - Cedarville Winemakers

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A Wine Getaway to Gold Country – Sutter Creek

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.

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Skinner Vineyards

We met up with winemaker Chris Pittenger at the Skinner Vineyard’s winery this past Sunday, Feb 27 and spent the next couple of hours tasting some excellent Rhone style wines and learning all about this fascinating winery.

Placerville Wineries, Three great wineries

We spent a few days last week exploring the wineries around the Placerville area. These wineries are located in El Dorado County near Highway 50 on the way to South Lake Tahoe. We have long enjoyed visiting the wineries in the Fair Play region of El Dorado County but have had little chance to explore the wineries closer to Placerville. On our trip, we visited ten wineries and found three that we think are not to be missed. We highly recommend a visit to Holly’s Hill Vineyards, Sierra Vista Vineyards, and Miraflores Winery.

One thing we love about visiting small wineries is that you often find the owner and/or winemaker working the tasting room. This was exactly the case at Holly’s Hill and Sierra Vista. The entrance ways to these two wineries are next door to each other, so it’s very easy to visit both on the same excursion.

A view of Holly's Hill

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