Mountain vineyards... El Dorado wineries offer a range of cool and warm micro-climates.
Perfect for growing a variety of premium wine grapes from Pinot to Zinfandel; hailing from Bordeaux, the Rhône, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
Many of the early immigrants came to the region looking for gold.
But they soon discovered that the real money was in supplying goods to the miners.
Wine and distilled spirits - in particular - were always in high demand.
The county has the largest number of operating wineries with tasting facilities of any of the foothill counties...
Just imagine... more than 50 wineries in El Dorado County and winery owners priding themselves on providing a fun wine adventure for their guests.
So are you ready? Let’s go visit El Dorado.
Decidedly a down-to-earth bunch, there’s a streak of experimentation running through their winemaking, and a sense of adventure in their souls. After all - why make great wine if you can’t have some fun along with it?
That’s what set these wineries apart; high-elevation wine country with nurtured nooks and crannies to match varietals, rootstocks, and clones... managing balance and complexity.
So be prepared for scenic back roads and uncrowded, friendly tasting rooms.
Now... even though the following El Dorado wineries
claim to offer FREE complimentary tastings, picnic areas, and tours, it
might be a good idea to call ahead and ask before going.
Afterall... things DO change.
2800 Omo Ranch Road
Fair Play, CA 95684
(530) 620 - 5818
This El Dorado winery is a family owned business - primed for growing grapes and supporting their Arabian horses.
Eighty-five acres of rolling hills, ponds and fantastic views; part of the smallest viticultural area in the world, Fair Play, California.
Their niche - port wines. Only a handful of California wineries specialize in port.
That’s why they chose varieties of Portuguese port and Barbera grapes.
Opened on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00am to 5:00pm, the owners, Bob & Sheila Routon, are usually there to pour and discuss wines... in their warm and friendly tasting room.
Winemaker, Jim Olsen, says the varietals Chateau Routon offers include...
We can even wander out on the Grand Deck, sit, and enjoy a picnic, while enjoying the spectacular views of beautiful horses grazing in the pastures below and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance.
GC D from Amador City, CA says...
Bob and Sheila are the best. A pinot noir that beats the grapeskins off of something you'll find in Sonoma, Men'cino, Santa Maria or San Luis Obispo.
Quaint and quiet, it's a marvel. The view from the deck is beautiful. Well worth the trip to the El Dorado wineries region.
6100 Gray Rock Rd.
Somerset, CA 95684
Colibri Ridge Winery & Vineyard - a small family owned winery located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Foothills in the southern part of El Dorado County.
Overlooking the immediate area of the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, this El Dorado winery treats its guests to a tasting experience conducted within their working winery... nestled amongst the fine French and American oak wine barrels - used for wine aging and storage.
During the harvest season - commonly known as the crush - we may see the winemaker at work... creating the wines of the future.
Their secluded picnic areas - nestled amongst the mature oak trees and large granite rocks - provide both spectacular views of their vineyard and the surrounding areas, and a sense of romantic privacy.
They’re opened Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Winemaker, John Alexander, says the varietals they offer include...
3550 Carson Rd.
Camino, CA 95709
Crystal Basin Cellars, with its roots in amateur cooperative winemaking, is just more fun than other wineries!
Their goal - driven by their passion to craft the highest quality wines from El Dorado grapes - "make wines from the heart".
This El Dorado winery grew from 3 barrels to 25. Outgrowing their space, they formed a commercial winemaking operation in 2000. Since then, they've made more than 10,000 cases of wine - eagerly devoured by themselves as well as their fans.
Crystal Basin Cellar’s circle of friends focus sharply on creating small batches of wines of outstanding quality.
They’re opened 7 days-a-week from 11:00am to 5:00pm; plus on most weekends they feature barrel tastings.
Peter Zimmerman, one of the winemakers - as well as ex surfer dude and current National volleyball dude says the varietals they offer include...
James M. of Las Vegas, NV says...
As it usually happens when you find a great place we stumbled on this winery as our first stop of the day on a day wine excursion from Lake Tahoe.
This is the most friendly winery I've ever visited. They have complimentary tasting of many of their more popular wines and even invited us back to taste futures.
Their whites were good, but their reds were all extraordinary.
2221 Fruitridge Rd.
Placerville, CA 95667
Lava Cap Winery is owned and ran by the Jones family.
David Jones, a professional geologist, along with his wife Jeanne, began searching for a special place to grow premium vines.
Their quest led them to the Sierra Nevada foothills and the charming gold rush town of Placerville, CA.
There they found an old farm situated on volcanic soil; everything needed to grow fine wine grapes with smooth character and elegant textures right in the El Dorado winery country.
David and Jeanne convinced their sons Tom and Charlie, along with their wives, to join them.
Winemaker, son Tom Jones, has an MS degree in enology from
University of California in Davis and was President of the El Dorado
Winery Association in 1991 and 1992.
The family’s hard work paid off when, in 1986, their dream became a reality; harvesting their first wine vintage.
They are opened daily from 11:00am to 5:00pm
om says the varietals they offer include...
Limited Production Of Red Bordeaux Varietals as well as...
Eric S of Lincoln, CA says...
Love this place, Great wine, Great personality, a must stop if you are in the El Dorado wineries area.
It has a small tasting room with a comfy feel and helpful staff.
6781 Tower Rd.
Mt Aukum, CA 95656
Mount Aukum sits at the 2615 foot elevation; high above the surrounding landscape of Southern El Dorado wine country with panoramic views from Sacramento to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
At 2615, the air is clear, the Central Valley below is covered with fog, and the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains lift its snowy peaks... just a stone's throw away.
Vines cling to the hillsides between the crumbling granite rock formations sticking out of the ground; a perfect world for wine grapes - a little red dirt here, a rocky drainage there.
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 is not just a marketing ploy.
Winemaker Michel Prod'hon has the soul of a "garagiste" - an innovative group of winemakers from the Bordeaux region in France. His solid foundation of winemaking skills were learned from the ground up.
Mount Aukum Winery is opened daily from 11:00am to 5:00pm
Michel says the varietals they offer include...
Four- of- a-kind - White Rhone Blend and...
Tocher K of Sacramento, CA says...
Thanks to Jeff and Michel for making Mount Aukum one of my favorite wineries to visit in the El Dorado wineries region. The drive is a little bit out of the way, but worth it for 3 reasons... the view, the wine, and the staff.
The view of the valley is spectacular and I highly suggest buying a bottle of your favorite, bring a picnic and sit outside at one of their tables to each lunch and enjoy the view and the wine.
7400 Perry Creek Rd.
Fair Play, CA 95684
Perry Creek Vineyards sits on a ridge top overlooking the Cosumnes River.
Their beautiful El Dorado winery and tasting room are done in the old California mission style setting that opens to a large picnic area for relaxing.
A-a-h-h... but... deep down in the twisting roads and hidden dales of Fair Play... a legend exists.
The legend of the Zin Man.
Often seen on moonlit nights darting between the lush vineyards of Perry Creek Winery holding aloft a wine glass while dancing under a star filled night his mysterious image has been captured to grace the labels of the winery's abundant product line.
Zin Man's playground is the 42 acres of estate vineyards where butterflies flitter, bees buzz and General Manager Stefan Tscheppe considers this nirvana.
Tscheppe... a sixth generation winemaker and native of Graz Austria, is a man who lives and breaths wine.
"Making drinkable wine is easy to produce," he says. "Great wines need a soul."
Perry Creek Winery’s diverse winemaking team of Scott Johnson and Garrett Buckland, Tscheppe... along with owner Dieter Juergens, helps the winery to strive... highlighting the delicious complexities found in their award winning Petite Sirah and other reds and whites.
Never shy about sharing their bounty and having a good time, the winery’s attentive and knowledgeable staff hosts frequent events.
Stefan Tscheppe concurs with Zin Man’s vigorous display of passion.
"If a wine does not dance on one’s palate - why drink it?"
So... try some of their complimentary tastings that they offer every day as well as barrel tasting.
And grab a snack from their deli case and have a picnic on their veranda or in the wine park.
They are opened daily from 11:00am to 5:00pm.
Stefan says the varietals they offer include...
7451 Fairplay Rd.
Somerset, CA 95684
Van der Vijver Estate is an El Dorado winery that prides itself on old European traditions when it comes to winemaking and food.
Everything needs to go just a little bit slower and with some extra care.
So of course when we visit them we can share the experience and taste their barrel aged wines.
Maybe even tell a story or two to Pa, Kate or Robert (the crazy winemaker in his yellow wooden shoes).
The bottom-line... the Van der Vijver family welcomes each of their guests to enjoy wine tasting and to bring a picnic along for under the Oak trees.
They’re opened Wednesday and Thursday from 12:00 noon to 5:00pm And on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11:00am to 5:00pm
Winemaker, Robert Van Der Vijver, says the varietals they offer include...
Jeri C of Placerville, CA says...
This place is the "diamond in the rough" of the Sierra Foothills!
So at first I was like, "what's up with all the clogs?!"
But when we went into this charming little place, we were greeted by the friendliest mutt and a flying-dutchman named Robert :)
Robert entertains his guests as he introduces you to a style of wine, very unique to the region. I mean, This dude even does a stand-up routine, (which includes his dog!) How cool is that!?
A good time was had by all, He provokes such a fun atmosphere and quickly strangers were becoming friends. Laughs and good times all around!