High elevation and the complex topography of steep vineyards wrapped around a myriad of hillsides are the backbone of El Dorado’s ability to support multiple grape varieties. The vineyards, located between 1,200 and 3,500 feet (366 to 1067 meters) of elevation above the valley floor, enjoy much direct sunlight but are cooled by their elevation and the breezes flowing from the high mountain peaks to the east, allowing generous hangtime for the fruit.
Mountains/River/Other Key Influences
The vineyards in El Dorado are themselves located on complicated hills at the base of the Sierra Mountain Range, creating infinite aspects and microclimates, with cooling air flowing down from the peaks in the range.
There are three primary types of soil in the region: fine-grained volcanic rock, decomposed granite, and fine-grained shale—all well-draining.
The climate in El Dorado broadly shares the characteristics of the Mediterranean climate most of the rest of the state enjoys. But while California’s more coastal regions are directly affected by the marine influence of the Pacific Ocean (through fog and cooling breezes), the myriad high-elevation slopes of the El Dorado AVA enjoy much intense sunlight during the growing season, with cooling breezes off the Sierra peaks lowering temperatures at night, allowing flavors ample time to mature while the fruit retains its balancing acidity.
Surrounded by: to the north, the Middle Fork of the American River; to the east, determined by the elevation above which grapes can’t be grown; to the south, the South Fork of the Cosumnes River; to the West, defined by the lower elevation where the Central Valley heat makes growing premium wine grapes difficult
Site of the start of the 1848 Gold Rush when James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill
Topography/Elevation/Water Sources/Geographic Features
Complex topography of steep hills at the base of the Sierra Mountain Range at a high elevation (1,200 - 3,500 ft, 366 -1067 m)
3 primary types of soil in the region: fine-grained volcanic rock, decomposed granite, and fine-grained shale—all well-draining
Mediterranean, but cooled by elevation and mountain breezes
Main Grape Varieties
Cabernet Sauvignon: 20%
Petite Sirah: 8%