Terra d'Oro, Land of Gold in Italian, is an apt descriptor for the winery and the region. Tucked in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley, Terra d'Oro Winery is located in Plymouth, Amador County.
The Shenandoah “spice” is that certain je ne sais quoi characteristic of the wines from the region. Notes of spice, such as fennel, pepper, anise, cinnamon, and clove, add luxurious undercurrent of flavors to Terra d'Oro's wines. The Shenandoah Valley is a sub-AVA within the Sierra Foothills (which has its own AVA.) Only 10 square miles, it's roughly a tenth of Napa County, yet is a wonderland of wineries.
My visit to Terra d'Oro was hosted by Jeff Meyers, Vice President and General Manager of TDO. Jeff graduated from UC Davis in '81 after studying Viticulture and Enology, and has been at TDO for over 30 years. With that experience comes wisdom, a connection with the land, wine, and staff...and a good sense of humor.
Jeff knows the region. He strives to produce wines that reflect the terroir and cultivar, the selecting and planting of varietals in the best possible location for the desired results, in TDO's 400 acres of vineyards. Sustainable vineyard practices enhance the wine and care for the land. Additionally, he shared, there are thousands of small decisions when making a wine, like little building blocks. I imagine these decisions as one block/decision upon the other, ultimately culminating in the finished wine. "The wine in the glass is a sense of the winemaker and a sense of the place."
A European paradigm separates the region, and Jeff is enthusiastic to share how TDO's wines stand out. They are less oak focused and the oak they do use is American, French, or Hungarian and plays a supporting roll, imparting flavor vs. dominating flavor. Also, the wines are higher in acid and lower in PH. This lays the foundation for wine that's drinkable now, with food, or can be cellared or aged.
And yes, Terra d'Oro grows and produces silky, deep Zins and Barbera (that lush grape is another big player in area.) But the selections keep coming. Along with the tour, a tasting spanning eleven wines was offered; representative of DTO's beautiful lineup of wines.
You can expect TDO wines to be made with care. The barrel room is humidity controlled with 10” cement walls, and the ceilings are insulated. The temperature is kept from topping 55-60 degrees. Why would that matter to you? Well, this translates to a steady temperature and less wine evaporating from the barrel which means less waste. So you get better quality at a better price. Be pleasantly surprised by the price to value here of wines from $16 to $24.
In addition to the Terra d'Oro's line up of reds, be sure to try their whites.
Winemaker, Emily Haines, is new to the team and has a penchant for whites.
She already has plans for expanding the offerings.
I'm thrilled about this! White wines can fit right in with California cuisine.
Jeff has a passion to see the Plymouth region establish itself in the California wine scene.
Part of that is introducing tasters to what grows well in the AVA. The area is Zinfandel-centric, with over 60% of America's Zinfandel coming from the region.
“ Zinfandel is a noble varietal, grown in a noble region,” Jeff shared.
He believes Amador County Zinfandel is different from Zin grown in other appellations.
It's more structured, sophisticated, and offers the Shenandoah spices.
I hope you get to try some Shenandoah Valley spice in a glass.
Best to you on your jaunt to the California Shenandoah wine region!
To see pics and wines from the Barbera Fest at Terra d'Oro....
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