Soon after the arrival of the gold-seeking forty-niners along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, grape growing and wine making started in Amador County, in large part owing to the traditions brought by emigrants of Italian descent. During the 1800s, Amador County had more vineyards and wineries than any other part of California. As the readily exploited ores depleted over a few decades and people left the area, followed by the prohibition years, only one winery and a few vineyards survived into the mid 1900s. Then, coinciding with the late 1960s wine boom, the unique taste and quality of the area’s Zinfandels were rediscovered by wineries in the Napa Valley and elsewhere, sparking a resurgence in grape growing and wine making in Amador County.
Descendants of the original growers have formed bonds with university-trained newcomers to resume the now century-old wine growing tradition, blending old non-irrigated farming practices with contemporary processing techniques. Today, ever more Amador County grapes are made into wine right in the County. The current generation of growers and winemakers have dedicated themselves to the consistent production of only the highest quality grapes and wines.
Appropriate to its rough-and-tumble history and terrain, Amador County is known for robust, gutsy wines. For years, Zinfandels from the Fiddletown and Shenandoah Valley sub-regions have been prized for distinct ripe berry flavors and mouth filling richness. Increasingly, county vintners are now gaining recognition for new wine varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Muscats, and other dessert wines.
The commitment by Amador growers to produce only the highest quality grapes, the close cooperation between growers and winemakers, and the introduction of modern technology to proven traditions, has resulted in an increasing accumulation of major awards and competition medals by county wineries.
Amador Vintners now use a unique custom bottle for County wines. The word “AMADOR” with the vintner’s logo embossed on the bottle shoulder. Use of the bottle is limited to wines produced 95% from Amador County grapes and each wine must pass a peer quality review before bottles can be filled. County vintners are proud to be the first regional winery association in the United States to develop a guarantee of origin and quality.
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