Mount Aukum Winery
Exquisite wines, staggering views, and an incredible experience
2615 feet is the altitude of the vineyards at Mount Aukum Winery in California’s El Dorado County – a region long famous for Zinfandel and more recently gaining a name for the cultivation of Rhone and Italian varietals. At 2615, the air is clear, the Central Valley below is covered with fog, and the mighty Sierra Nevada lifts its snowy peaks just an arm’s length away.
Vines cling to the hillsides here between outcroppings of crumbling granite in a perfect world for wine grapes – a little red dirt here, a rocky drainage there – what the experts call “Holland Series”, thirty-six inches deep. Days are sunny and nights are crisp on Mount Aukum – the same old story every winery wants to tell but up here the long underwear proves it’s not just a marketing ploy.
Within the rugged sub-appellation of Fair Play (“Wines with Altitude”), Mount Aukum uses its own hillside vineyards as well as sourcing fruit from the same growers who nurtured the explosion of Zinfandel’s fame in the Sierra foothills.
Winemaker Michel Prod’hon has the soul of a “garagiste” with the solid foundation of winemaking skills learned from the ground up, and backs his signature El Dorado County Zinfandel with a changing kaleidoscope of superb single varietal Rhone offerings made one hundred and fifty cases at a time and utterly fantastic blends. 2615 is the source and the refuge, the goal and the inspiration, the altimeter reading at the tasting room door and the name of the already flourishing wine club.
It’s all about the mountain.