At Dobra Zemlja – Croatian winemaker gone mad!
Here is a winery that will literally knock your socks off. The wines at Dobra Zemlja (Good Earth) Winery are big boys, high in alcohol, full-bodied and bold. The motto at Dobra Zemlja is “No Lightweights!” The winery is located on Steiner Road and quite a contrast from any of the other wineries along this charming little backroad in the Shenandoah Valley of Amador County.
If you are lucky enough, you might be able to spot Croatian winemaker Milan Matulich working in his vineyards or in the cellar. Just look for the guy with the flowing white hair and charismatic white mustache. He might also just be doing all his chores barefoot. Milan is a throwback to another era of winemaking. There is absolutely no “frou-frou” going on with Milan at Dobra Zemlja. What you see is what you get!
We had a chance to meet Milan and taste his current release wines and some barrel samples. Indeed, Milan is quite a character and goes by his own set of rules. He loves the taste of big wines, so that’s what he’s going to produce for Dobra Zemlja. Never mind what the food critics say about high alcoholic wines, Milan thinks big wines mean big flavors and big enjoyment. The wines are all high in alcohol and one we tried even reached above 16%. The wines are smooth and do not have a “hot” aspect to them in aftertaste. Quite the contrary, the wines go down easily. Among the wines made are Viognier, Sangiovese, Barbera, Syrah and Zinfandel. The tasting room is in a cave that fits nicely under one of rolling hillsides on the estate. While we drank our wine samples out of beautiful stemware, Milan chose to drink out of a Mason jar. No doubt, a character in the world of winemaking.
To get to Dobra Zemlja, take Shenandoah Road from Plymouth and turn left on Steiner Road. This is about a two-mile U shape backroad that ends back on Shenandoah Road. Along the way you will pass some other favorite wineries of ours, Renwood, Shenandoah Vineyards, Deaver Vineyards and Amador Foothill Winery. Any of these are worth a visit before you get to Dobra Zemlja.
The winery is open Monday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. It is one of the few wineries in the Amador wine country that is open daily throughout the year, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.