Wine Spectator on Amador Valley – what they missed


Written by:

Joe Becerra

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amador and wine spectator
amador and wine spectator
Head to Deaver Vineyards when in Amador wine country

Wine Spectator on Amador Valley – what they missed

Having traveled to Amador County on many occasions since 2002, I consider myself a decent authority on the wine country of Amador. I have seen Amador grow steadily over these years and evolve from a destination mainly for Gold Country buffs to now a wine country paradise. Upon my recent arrival home from our wine country trip to France, I was happy to see the latest issue of the Wine Spectator in my pile of mail. I was delighted to see that Amador wine country was one of the featured articles in the issue. Amador wine growers and wineries need good press. The Wine Spectator got most things right about Amador in the eating and lodging department, but they missed a lot in where to taste wine.

The Napa Valley Influence

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Napa Valley, but I don’t need to be reminded of it of when I visit Amador. I am looking for something more laid back. Did I see those laid-back wineries mentioned in the Wine Spectator article? Sorry to say just one, Terra Rouge. The idea of visiting the Amador wine country is to find something quiet and reserved with affordable wine that’s good. Among the places the Wine Spectator touted to taste wine were Turley and Andis Winery. Turley bought out the Karly Winery a few years ago, and I was sorry to see this quaint family winery go by the wayside. Turley wine prices are too high for the average wine traveler to Amador. It is just a tasting room and no chance to see the winery or walk the vineyards. Andis came in and built a far-out structure that just does not fit in the Amador countryside. I do enjoy Andis wines; I think their winemaker is tops and I love the Semillon and the Cab Franc. The building just seems out of place, but would fit perfectly in the Napa Valley.

Deserving of a Wine Spectator Mention

Vino Noceto

I love this little winery and it’s the only California winery that I know of that focuses its wine production on Sangiovese. They have five different labels of Sangiovese and they are all delightful. We also love the picnic area and the friendliness of the tasting room staff. The winery started in 1987, making it one of the first wineries in the area.

Vino Noceto winery
Vino Noceto is a Sangiovese specialist in Amador County and not to be missed.

Deaver Vineyards

Deaver owns one of the finest old vine Zinfandel vineyards in the area, planted in 1867. In fact, Terra d’ Oro, mentioned in the WS article, makes a Zinfandel from these very vineyards. Deaver Vineyards sits on a beautiful area with a large pond. It is peaceful and serene, the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch even on a cold or cloudy day.

Wildrotter Vineyards

Jay Wilderotter is a wine grower and until 2003 sold all his grapes to wineries. Thankfully, he decided to produce his own wines and does a fantastic job. The Rhone-style whites, Rousanne and Viognier, are amazing as are the Rhone Reds, Syrah and Mourvedre. This small winery is a “must” stop on Shenandoah School Road.

Cooper Vineyards

Also on this same road as Wildrotter is Cooper Vineyards and, like Wildrotter, the Cooper Family were growers who decided to make their own wines. The focus is Italian wine and they are beautifully-made wines. Love the Barbera. The tasting room has a great view of their vineyards.

Karmére Vineyards & Winery

Same story as Cooper and Wildrotter, vineyard owners turned winemakers. The view here is fantastic. It is a nice, spacious and modern-style tasting room that fits neatly into the rolling terrain of the Shenandoah Valley.

We recommend that you take three days to visit the Amador County wineries. Stay in Sutter Creek at the Hanford House, and embark each day after a gourmet B&B breakfast and head to these two wine routes: Shenandoah Valley Wine Route (two days), and the Shenandoah School Road Wine Route. Check out our full list of restaurants and lodging and other things to do in Amador Wine Country

  • Joe Becerra

    Joe Becerra has been traveling to wine country and enjoying wine since 1965. He is a retired educator, and now have the time the opportunity to share his wine travel experiences through this Website.