Gold Rush Vineyards

Located east of Sacramento in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, this region includes Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Tuolumne, and Yuba Counties. Its colorful Gold Rush tales and long agricultural history make this a fascinating Zinfandel area to explore. Some of the earliest documented Zinfandel vineyards were planted here between 1852 and 1869, and some still survive today, protected by their remote locations…the Original Grandpere Vineyard, planted in 1869, is the oldest documented Zinfandel vineyard still producing wine.

Zinfandel accounts for about 40% of the grapevine acreage planted in the Sierra Foothills in unique decomposed granite soils that are found nowhere else in the world. These soils vary within the region and have been characterized as thin and austere to deep, moderately to well-drained, and from fertile to forgiving but less fertile! But, nearly all of the Zinfandel vineyards here are at fairly high elevation (from 1,200 to 3,500 feet) which places them above the fog, gives access to sunshine, and makes them struggle just a little, producing grapes with dark pigments, strong tannins, and concentrated flavor. Grapes tend to be picked later here than in coastal regions, so the wines are deeply colored, with bright forward fruit, jammy, ripe black raspberry flavors, and a strong black cherry, verging on cola, character. There is an intensity of color, aroma, tannin, and flavor.

The American Viticultural Areas within this region are California Shenandoah Valley, El Dorado, Fairplay, Fiddletown, North Yuba, and Sierra Foothills.



Aromas in this diverse region are often described as cocoa, briary spice, licorice, mint, chocolate, cedar, and tobacco. Calaveras Zinfandels feature leathery aromas and flavors of cherry and plum, while Amador County wines tend to feature black cherry, black pepper, and anise, with a rich, round, full mouth. El Dorado County Zinfandels show a distinctive claret style that is unique to their growing area.

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