Winederlust: Amador County California

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‘The Big Crush’ of Amador, once again was an event to behold. The Shenandoah Valley had a sense of magic in the air! We met up with our fellow winos at the Shenandoah Inn in Plymouth. After a hearty breakfast at the Gold Rush Café we walked back to the inn and awaited our limo.

Promptly at 11a.m. Jim of Foothill Limousine picked us up for our wine tasting tour. We were surprised that he took our reservation for the third year. And we have booked him for Harvest 2002.

Off we went first stop was Montevina – our tasting guide took us through an extensive tasting, with much information given rapidly for each selection. The munchies in the barrel tasting room were wonderful!

Our next stop, Story Winery, our favorite by far. And what a crowd, parking was tight especially for the limos. The setting is incredible — such views of the valley! As always the live music was so pleasant. And the wine…..well, we certainly did our part to stimulate the economy! We toyed with the idea of buying ‘Futures’, but still being a little green in that area we decided to pass. But it didn’t stop us from tasting and re-tasting from the barrel. Everyone at Story, that was helping with pouring and sales really make you feel welcome and very comfortable. It’s just a down-home place that we will continue to return to time and time again.

Our lunch stop was a picnic lunch provided by Jim our driver, on the grounds of Deaver Vineyards. The huge green lawns provide the perfect setting for a picnic. The live band was a joy to listen to and a few people were spotted dancing to their favorite tunes.

Tasting at Deaver is always an education, with many new wines to try. One we all especially enjoyed the Sangio (Rose of Sangiovese) it was so refreshing and light and fruity. And it went quite well with the complimentary BBQ’d tri-tip sandwiches. (We went back again the next day, just to make sure we liked everything from the day before. Yup, we did.)

Topping off our day with two more stops. The stop was Sobon Estate . And once again we left with an ample supply of Orange Muscat.

Our last stop of the day is Shenandoah Vineyards. With a live band playing we wandered around the grounds and much to our surprise we discovered the Shenandoah Valley Museum. What a wonderful collection of items used in daily living in the early days of the valley. The agriculture and viticulture artifacts, truly make your appreciate how hard life was and how wine making was a labor of love.

The following day we were on our own. So off we went, breakfast at Marlene & Glenn’s Diner in Plymouth. We’ve never seen such a huge breakfast menu selection.

First stop Amador Foothill Winery – a new stop for us. We tried something new and different to us. A wine called Carignane. It was great. And we became best buddies with another closet-wino named Catherine. She was having as much fun as we were.

At this point we decided to make a break for the border. We crossed into El Dorado County to their wine region called Fairplay. We quickly found our way to our beloved Latcham Winery. Not only home to fantastic wine, but is also known for its’ to-die-for brownies made by Margaret.

Not one drop of disappointment found here. Just start at the top of the wine tasting list and work your way down. Each wine seemed to get better than the last one tasted. The 2000 Sauvignon Blanc (Gold Medal California State Fair) went absolutely perfect with the out-of-the oven smoked salmon hors de’ oeuvres. We all agreed upon the fact that we were in heaven and not in a simple tasting room on earth.

But wait, somehow it did manage to get better, we got to the reds. Then came the 1999 Zinfandel Reserve. Well no wonder it won against all those other wines in San Francisco at the International Wine Competition. It took Double Gold and Best of Show (for Zinfandel).

After concluding our tasting at Latcham with brownies and the 1998 Select Port, we knew it was time to buy and say good bye.

Once in the car it came to our attention that we had one more stop to make. Back in Amador County we headed down Steiner Road to Charles Spinetta Winery.

Thank goodness for the ability to buy by the case. The Chenin Blanc is just delightful. We then had a new taste treat experience. We tried the Zinetta, A fun and yummy sweet zinfandel. Oh, was it delicious! Another case to the car. Seating was becoming a bit of an issue.

We then had the pleasure of visiting with Jeff Runquist of Jeff Runquist Wines. Jeff shares the tasting room with the Spinetta family. We sampled the 1999 ‘ Z ‘ Zinfandel and the’ R’ Sangiovese. More wine for the car.

After a well-deserved nap back in our rooms, we prepared for dinner over in Jackson. We had reservations at the Upstairs Restaurant. WOW! The atmosphere, the music, the food, Chef Layne McCollum made our evening magical. Everything from start to finish was an experience for all the senses. The pork loin stuffed with napa cabbage, cherries and walnuts in a port sauce was delicious. And the steak crusted with fresh ground coffee beans and Szechwan peppercorns was most tasty.

Ah, the dessert dilemma after a short discussion it was decided that each person would choose a different dessert. So we ended up with the following taste temptations; key lime pie in a coconut crust, chocolate torte with lingonberry sauce, lemon curd cake with fresh raspberries and a banana filled wonton with a warm homemade chocolate and caramel sauce. Need we say more? We all loved them all. We are looking forward to returning soon to the Upstairs Restaurant.

To be continued…