California Shenandoah Valley: Est. 1982; Fiddletown: Est. 1983
Written by Rebecca Fineman, MS
In the mid-1800s, Amador County was a thriving wine scene: many arrived in search of gold, but upon seeing the land before them, opted to change course, planting vines and making wine in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains instead. Today, Amador County offers extremely old vines--some dating back to the 1860s--relatively inexpensive land, and unique granite soils, a combination that has more recently helped lure talent back to the area. Amador County wines have a steady following. Experimentation with unlikely grape varieties has proven successful. This is an area to keep on the radar.
By the numbers
Year End 2020
Acreage Under Vine (Acres)
Acreage Under Vine (Hectares)
Zinfandel, Primitivo, Barbera, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon
Warm Region 3
Key Soil Types
Volcanic Sierra Series—sandy loam and granite
For modern-day sommeliers, Amador County is considered a new and upcoming wine region, fast gaining recognition for its southern French and Italian grape varieties. This is, however, Amador’s second rise to fame, the first dating back to the 1850s, with the county a prime destination for those seeking their fortunes in the California Gold Rush. Amador attracted many settlers, some of whom turned to making wine instead. One of the first significant wine regions in the United States, Amador is once again enjoying a return to the spotlight in the 21st century.