A look at Amador Wine Country
We have been traveling to Amador wine country in search of wine, food and other delights since 2001. We have always enjoyed this wine region for these reasons: The wines are very good and affordable. The majority of wineries are very small and family owned. The backroads are beautiful, lined with vineyards, oak trees, and grasslands. It is a quiet wine country with few crowds and little traffic. We love the Napa Valley and Sonoma, but sometimes you need something a little more down-to-earth, less chic and swanky.
On our last few visits to this region, we’ve seen signs that the sleepy Amador wine country is beginning to emerge as a popular destination spot. For folks who love this hidden wine country, this may not be a good thing; but we are predicting that within five years, wine tourism will absolutely boom in this area. Here is why we think this will happen.
Within the last three years some new fancy wineries have opened. These include Andis Winery and the Helwig Winery. Helwig has a huge facility including an outdoor amphitheater with a summer concert series scheduled each year. The Renwood Winery has new owners, an Argentine wine business group. They recently remodeled
the Renwood tasting room. It is stunning and so is the outdoor area for guests. The wine lineup has been completely revamped offering both moderately-priced wines to upscale Zinfandel vineyard-select wines.
Perhaps the most significant development is the presence of the Turley Winery. Turley has long been known in the Napa Valley and Paso Robles for its single vineyard high-priced Zinfandel and Petite Sirah wines. The Turley Zins are highly regarded and with a mailing list of fans anxious to snap up the latest releases. Turley purchased the Karly winery and some of the Karly vineyards in 2012. Karly was one of the first wineries in the Shenandoah Valley. The Turley tasting room opened two weeks ago on Shenandoah Valley Road and, by all accounts, should attract some high-end wine buyers.
There are a few pieces to the puzzle that need to be fixed in order to attract tourists. For starters, the wineries need to be open seven days a week. This past week we were there Tuesday through Thursday and I would say that 75% of the wineries were not open. The usual days of operation are Friday through Sunday. The wineries indicate they would open if there were more tourists. I say it is the opposite. “Build it and they will come!” In this case, open seven days a week and they will come.
The area lacks sufficient lodging and restaurants. But that could also be changing. In the town of Sutter Creek, our favorite town in Amador wine country, the Hanford House Inn is adding a gourmet restaurant to the Inn and additional guest rooms. Down Main Street, there are new owners of the American Exchange Hotel that houses Bellotti’s restaurant. Rumors have it that the restaurant and building will be completely remodeled.
Follow one of the Amador wine country trails and you are sure to have fun.
In our next post we will detail our adventures at the Vino Noceto Winery and the Dobra Zemlga Winery. Stay tuned!