Conversations often lead to the topic of wine. And they can tend to go something like this...”We went to the wine country for a get-away.”
Well, I wonder, which wine country?
California has a plethora of “Wine Countries,” but often people think of wine country as Napa/Sonoma. That's okay. But I like the path less traveled. Most of my favorite wine country regions don't tend to take center stage but, are worth the attention!
I've tasted wines from El Dorado County but wanted to learn more. So Kara Sather and I met over a cup of tea (it was morning). Kara is the Association Director for the El Dorado Winery Association (EDWA.) She's been on board less than a year, yet has tremendous vision for the region.
“The quality of the fruit is phenomenal!” she shares. The region offers a plethora of riches. You'll find beautiful vistas and nature vs. industrial style settings. Vineyards drape the El Dorado AVA between 1,200 and 3,500 feet in elevation.
El Dorado County is a fun area to explore. HWY 50 runs right through the county, and it's easy to get to. Just an hour from downtown Sacramento and the Sacramento airport sans traffic, it's on route to iconic Lake Tahoe. Between the State's Capital, Lake Tahoe recreation, hiking, snowboarding/skiing, fishing, camping, nature, dining, and vintage shopping...you name it, it's a great area to explore.
And that spirit of exploring, of adventure, is part of the region's history. In the mid 1800s, El Dorado County was home to the California Gold Rush and one of the state's largest wine producers. Then, between prohibition and local economic factors, production almost went dormant. Thankfully, with the vision of a handful of local wine growers and winemakers, a wine resurgence began in the 1970s. Now the local wine industry is booming.
When you visit wineries in the area, you'll notice the winemakers are friendly. It's part of the culture and climate. The El Dorado wine community is unpretentious and unassuming. Winemakers often will be pouring wine themselves in the tasting room, saying hi to customers, and involved in the local community.
Sometimes, people who are new to wine may feel intimidated by the tasting room experience. What do I try, what's the lingo? But the El Dorado area is very welcoming. With over 70 varietals grown, there's a wine for everyone. What flavors do you like? Sweet, tart, tangy, fruity, herby? Do you like wines that are dry, light bodied, or heavy? Feel free to share your likes with the tasting staff and they can offer you their wines that would best suit you.
Kara shared, “There's no right or wrong. Each person has his own palate. Just enjoy what you like.” And that's doable here with so many options.
Check out El Dorado Winery Association's site for wine events, tasting rooms... (Link to El Dorado Wines.)
The distinct wines plus what the area has to offer exceeds other regions.
You can enjoy high quality, unique wines at prices much lower than one would expect.
It's not uncommon to find tastings at $5 and delicious, boutique wines between $18-30.
El Dorado County's adventurous spirit continues today.
Winemakers have more freedom to try something new with their wines due to the varied terrain, elevation, and numerous varietals to work with. It's part of the distinction of the area.
Here, California wine history co-mingles with new, distinctive winemaking styles.
A toast to your new wine country adventure.
To read more about the area, here's a look at my visit to Boeger Wines.
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