Best Wineries in Amador, El Dorado and Fair Play – Spotlightmicaelapeavey
There’s no better way to take advantage of California’s beautiful weather and scenic views than to elevate your wine-tasting experience and visit the best wineries in Amador, El Dorado, and Fair Play regions. Each region has a distinctive regional character, and one thing is for sure, there is a sense of discovery when a newcomer asks, “How did we not know about this wonderful Wine Region?” In an area that was once famous for gold discovery in the 1800s, there is now a world of wineries and winemakers who have crafted the perfect space to indulge in amazing wines, food, and outdoor activities.
This article will highlight the Best Amador, El Dorado and Fair Play wineries, starting with Amador. If you’d like to skip to a particular Region Click on the Region below
Mountains – Wine – Adventure
Since we have local knowledge of each region, we decided to put some of our favorite wineries on a pre-planned route. The route will guide to locations that have beautiful views, amazing wines, and other extras that will be sure to leave a lasting impression. Load up your friends, turn up the radio and travel to the Sierra Foothills and Discover Gold at the Best Wineries in Amador, El Dorado and Fair Play.
Spotify Wine Tasting Playlist – Amador Wineries, El Dorado Wineries, Fair Play Wineries
The best wineries in Amador are bursting with character and superb hospitality. The 40+ wineries in the region are dedicated to producing premium quality wines that provide a sense of place. Each location aims to welcome you with breathtaking panoramic views, premiere winemaking facilities, and the friendly staff. Within the historic gold country is the opportunity to experience the quaint side of wine country. You can pay a visit to a tasting room that was once a post office or a wine cellar that has retained architectural elements since 1853. There are also wineries with a modern, futuristic design, and others with a Spanish farmhouse feel. You could explore the best Amador wineries for a week and still have more to discover. With such diverse offerings and consistently exceptional quality wines, anyone is sure to have a delightful time visiting Amador County Wineries.
12500 Steiner Rd, Plymouth, CA 95669 – view on map – (209) 245-6307
Specializing in – Barbera, Chardonnay, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Rose, Sangiovese, Syrah, Semillion, Zinfandel
Tom and Beth Jones founded Iron Hub in 2016 on a 33-acre property that overlooks the beautiful hills of the Shenandoah Valley AVA. When visiting this estate you will experience the rural charm and character of Amador County, with stunning views on all four sides of the building. The Jones Family built their winery’s success on creating elegant wines and honoring the legacy of the region.
Iron Hub’s name was inspired by an antique, hand-forged wagon wheel hub, discovered by Tom in the remote outback. The beauty and artistry of this iron hub reflect the craftsmanship and love of discovery that are at the core of this family business.
Tom and his son Spencer both graduated from UC Davis and now enjoy working together as a father-son team. They have collaborated to create the perfect hands-on approach to the winemaking process which is evident in their internationally acclaimed wines. With great wines and amazing views, you can’t go wrong spending quality time at Iron Hub Winery.
11555 Shenandoah Rd, Plymouth, CA 95669 – view on map – (209) 245-5200
Specializing in – Albarino, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, GSM, Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah
Amongst the rolling hills of Plymouth, is Helwig Winery. With a restaurant on site, an amphitheater for summer concerts, a patio overlooking the winding valley, and great tasting room service, this place is an amazing destination winery.
This winery offers guests the utmost variety, with 60 acres of vineyards split between Amador and El Dorado Counties, in addition to purchasing grapes from other premier Amador vineyards. The Helwig winery and tasting room property is also home to the family’s olive orchard, where three varietals of olives are harvested to make the olive oil available for purchase on-site.
Helwig’s main tasting room within their large modern facility is truly unmatched. There are also numerous private tasting areas to accommodate many different-sized groups. The staff is extremely outgoing and courteous, always happy to share their knowledge. Helwig Winery is truly a hidden gem.
10851 Shenandoah Rd, Plymouth, CA 95669 – view on map – (209) 245-3938
Specializing in – Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon
Like their wines, the staff at Turley Wine Cellars, are genuine, unique, and over-deliver in all they do. The winery was founded in 1993 by Larry Turley, who was formally an emergency room physician. Ever since his winery’s start, Larry has focused on upholding the special winemaking culture of California, farming organically and perfecting their old vine vineyards.
Turley Wine Cellars has grown to make 47 unique wines, sourcing grapes from 50 separate vineyards. The owners have found their passion in restoring old vine vineyards to their former glory, with some vines even dating back to the 1800s. The extra care and love that goes into this revival process have carried over into each glass of liquid gold and the entire guest experience.
Reflecting only the best of the Paso Robles region, Turley’s tasting staff is down-to-earth, informative, and very accommodating. You can expect to experience a welcoming atmosphere from the moment you step onto the grounds. If you love Zinfandels and blends, this is your winery.
11000 Shenandoah Rd, Plymouth, CA 95669 – view on map – (209) 245-6177
Specializing in – Semillon, Grenache, Petite Sarah, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera
A beautiful estate and vista with excellent wines, Andis is a must-stop on the Shenandoah wine road. Janis and her husband Andy Friedlander made the move from their corporate lifestyles in Hawaii and had their sights set on establishing their new home in Napa. They quickly fell in love with the rural and diverse wine region of Amador, reminding them of Napa’s early days.
Andy and Janis worked with Sage Architecture for over a year to design a space that meets both their winemaking needs and is absolutely breathtaking. The tasting room’s sleek and modern chrome architecture is very unique to the area. Large groups are easily accomodated in Andis’ main building, outside, or along the tasting bar.
After earning her winemaking certificate from UC Davis, Janis has worked diligently alongside assistant winemaker, Mark Fowler, to craft the most elegant and high-quality wines. The staff are all very knowledgeable and friendly, happy to share the winery’s story and winemaking philosophy. Amador County is loved for its non-pretentious atmosphere, but you will truly feel like an old friend when you visit Andis Wines.
20680 Shenandoah School Rd, Plymouth, CA 95669 – view on map – (209)245-6942
Specializing in – Barbera, Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Petite Sirah
Italian for “land of gold”, Terra d’Oro’s name represents the beauty, history, and natural resources that make Amador wineries so special. In the 1920’s, with the arrival of Prohibition, wineries were forced to close their doors and abandon ship. 50 years later, renowned winemaker Cary Gott founded the first winery in Amador since Prohibition, and Terra d’Oro has been setting a high reputation for the region ever since.
Terra d’Oro owns 800 acres of vineyards, both in Amador County and Clarksburg AVA. Every acre is sustainably grown and harvested to ensure a healthy crop and surrounding ecosystem. Winemaker Emily Haines, alonside assistant winemaker Cooper Carter, have shaped the next generation of Terra d’Oro wines to be even better than the last.
While this winery is one of the largest in the area, they staff have truly maintained the intimate atmosphere of a small vineyard. Not only are the grounds impeccably kept, but Terra d’Oro offers ample outdoor seating, a large tasting room, and has delicious food available for purchase. With the ambiance, quality wines, and a knowledgable staff, this winery has it all.
11011 Shenandoah Rd. Plymouth, CA 95669 – view on map – (209) 245-6556
Specializing in – Sangiovese, Frivolo, Barbera, Zinfandel
“California’s Sangiovese Specialist”, Vino Noceto’s wines will transport your tastebuds to a villa in Italy. Suzy and Jim Gullett fell in love with the Sangiovese grape and were determined to make this dream a reality in Amador County. In the fall of 1985, the entire family took a trip to the Chianti Classico region of Italy, where they visited cellars and vineyards to learn how the best Tuscan producers crafted their wines. Now Vino Noceto is one of the most highly respected producers of Sangiovese wine in California.
Built upon their forty acre property are 25 acres of sustainably farmed vineyards, olive and walnut trees, 200 lilic bushes, an 1887 renovated ranch house, winery, and tasting room. Several other rustic barns and buildings can be explored on the grounds as well. Vino Noceto was one of the first solar powered wineries in the Sierra Foothills and 100% of the power to their winery and tasting room is solar generated.
The Gullett’s have created a family business with the most welcoming atmosphere. Their staff is knowledgable, friendly, and eager to share their passion of wine. Vino Noceto should definitely be a must stop on your Amador wine tasting tour.
El Dorado wineries are the perfect escape from the heavy crowds of Napa Valley, and they are just as charming. There is nothing better than having a glass of wine surrounded by peaceful gardens and the sounds of gurgling water passing through winery grounds. This is an area overflowing with history. Not only of the California Gold Rush era but also of the multi-generational winemaking families that call El Dorado home. To learn more about the area, we recommend taking a docent lead tour through some of the beautiful trails. If you want to make it a weekend getaway, El Dorado offers a variety of bed & breakfasts for you to enjoy. You can’t go wrong paying a visit to this magical destination that offers some of the best wines and wineries in California.
1709 Carson Rd, Placerville, CA, 95667 – view on map – (530) 622-8094
Specializes in – Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Zinfandel, and Primitivo
Located near Apple Hill, an easy drive through beautiful vineyards leads you to a whole other world. Boeger is a gorgeous winery with a wonderful atmosphere to enjoy with friends and family. Wander the grounds, enjoy the wine, and experience the rich history of this place.
The Boeger Winery estate put down its roots in El Dorado County during the 1849 Gold Rush. This establishment was first a gold mining site, developed into a fruit and nut farm growing produce for miners, and eventually became a beautiful winery and distillery. Greg and Sue Boeger discovered this special place in 1972 and created Boeger Winery to be the first post-Prohibition winery in the El Dorado American Viticultural Area.
Greg first learned about the craft of winemaking from his Grandfather, Anton Nichelini, who established Napa’s Nichelini Winery in 1890. Now with his own winery, Greg has applied his vast knowledge of viticulture to experiment with over 30 different varietals that are now on his grounds. With Sue’s magical touch, Boeger has become an award-winning winery and a wonderful getaway.
8054 Fairplay Rd, Somerset, CA, 95684 – view on map – (530) 620- 2220
Specializes in – Mourvedre, Rhone, Syrah, and Viognier
In 1861, James Skinner struck gold and felt his earnings were best spent on purchasing land, planting vines, and establishing J.Skinner Winery and Distillery. Fast forward 145 years to 2006, when Kathy and Kevin Skinner were on their way home from Lake Tahoe and spotted “Skinner, CA” on an old map. Deciding to take a detour, they explored this magical place and wondered if perhaps there were any familial ties. Kevin’s father Mike prompted to look into his family’s history and discovered that James Skinner was indeed his great, great, great grandfather.
Inspired to create their own adventure, Mike and his wife Carey, purchased 25 acres a few miles from the original property and paid homage to James by planting the same varietals that had been planted there so long ago. Now with six generations reunited in this incredible region of the Sierra Foothills have culminated in what is now the Skinner Vineyards and Winery.
This family legacy fuels all the love and handwork that Mike and Carey have put into their estate. Their stunning mountain top wine tasting pavilion with a large shaded patio is perfect for a day of tasting. With elegant wines, immaculate grounds, and wonderful service, Skinner might just be one of your new favorite spots.
7060 Fairplay Rd, Somerset, CA 95684 – view on map – (530) 723-2879
Specializes in – Cabernet Sauvignon, Sparkling Wines, Chardonet, and Zinfandel
The Gwinllan Estate is a family-run winery and vineyard off the beaten path in the Fair Play area. With roots in Wales and England, owners Chris and Gordon Pack got the name “Gwinllan”, from the Welsh word for the vineyard. After harvesting its first vintage in 2009, this winery had two of its inaugural wines earn top honors at the El Dorado County Fair in 2013. With the help of their incredible winemaker Jonathan Pack, the winery’s portfolio has only gotten more impressive since then.
The vineyards and wine caves on the Gwinllan property are absolutely beautiful. Wine tastings within the caves are a fun experience, and a great way to beat the heat! Tastings are also enjoyed with lovely views from the large outdoor patio. While the Gwinllan Estate may not produce as many varietals as other wineries in the area, they certainly do offer some of the best-produced wine. The craftsmanship of each vintage is evident in every tasting. Gwinllan Estate is a must-visit winery in Fair Play!
3500 Carson Rd, Camino, CA 95709 – view on map – (530) 644-4018
Specializes in – Cabernet, Chardonnay, Mourvèdre, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Zinfandel, Petite Sarah, Merlot, and Grenache
This boutique-style winery is family owned by Tom and Pamela Findleton. Tom has found his true passion in winemaking, creating award-winning wines alongside Carrie Golden. Over 18 varietals of wine can be enjoyed in the tasting room, appreciating the work of the well-known local artist, Pamela Findleton herself. This “Fine Art Gallery” alone, is worth the trip to the estate. Take home a bottle and you will find Pamela’s artwork originally designed for the wine label as well. Each of their five children, and six grandchildren, have contributed to the wonderful experience that is the Findleton estate.
This hard-working family has committed to crafting wines of the highest quality with the utmost care. Not only do they offer a large array of delicious reds and whites, but the establishment itself has the most vibrant energy. The unique style tasting room, along with the knowledgeable staff, and the beautiful patio… it’s hard to find a better spot to spend an afternoon with friends and a glass of wine.
In the heart of El Dorado County, on the border of Amador County, is the hidden treasure of Fair Play AVA (American Viticulture Area). World-class wines paired with views that could be mistaken for Tuscany, Fair Play is sure to be the place you wish you discovered sooner. Luckily, it’s not too late to experience one of California’s best-kept secrets. Nestled in the Sierra Foothills, Fair Play’s 27 wineries are known for their picturesque rolling vineyard hills. Each winery offers a unique experience of events, amazing food, and outdoor space that is ready to be explored with friends and family. Located at the second-highest elevation of all of California’s AVAs, the altitude, climate, and unique soil conditions of Fair Play vineyards are what give their wines a flavor that is only found in the most esteemed wine regions around the world. If you haven’t visited Fair Play wineries yet, you will definitely want to check out this wonderful area for yourself. We have listed the must-visit Fair Play wineries below.
8085 Perry Creek Rd. Somerset, CA 95684 – view on map – (408) 894-0295
Specializing in – Barbera, Sparkling Rose, Grenache Blanc, Syrah, and Pinot Noir
Located in Somerset, E16 Winery is built into a hillside vineyard along a wooded creek with a charming footbridge and shaded terrace. They offer unique visitor experiences with the relaxed charm of El Dorado County in a tasting room and a subterranean cavern.
E16 Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay (all rated 90 pts or more) are sourced from the Russian River Valley and Bennett Valley in Sonoma County, Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, and the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County.
Baby Rattlesnake Syrah and Grenache Blanc are sourced from grapes grown on our mountain vineyard in the Fair Play AVA. The property is located five miles south of Somerset and above the middle fork of the Cosumnes River where the growing season is marked by warm, dry conditions.
Adam Smith is heading up the winemaking and owner Robert Jones can be found behind the bar entertaining visitors on most weekends. Be sure to ask about their special events, they are some of the best in the area.
Insider tip – There is a Bocce Ball court on top of the cave. It’s a bit of hike, but has a great view.
7350 Fairplay Rd. Somerset, CA 95684 – view on map – (530) 497-0750
Specializing in – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon
Gold, the 79th element on the periodic table, perfectly symbolizes El Dorado’s history as well as this winery’s future. When owners, Les and Sharon Heinsen first came to the place that once began California’s legendary Gold Rush, they fell in love with the area and dreamed about one day owning a winery there. The gold symbol that is now a part of their wine label, is a tribute to El Dorado County’s importance in American history as well as 1979, the year they were married and embarked on this journey together in beautiful partnership.
They pride themselves in using sustainable and environmentally friendly farming methods, harvesting only the best quality grapes, and producing truly exceptional wines. Enjoy your wine tasting on the deck and admire the scenery of rolling vineyard hills far into the distance. With the delicious wines, the perfect ambiance, and excellent customer service, Element 79 continues to raise the bar for the total wine tasting experience.
2501 Omo Ranch Rd, Somerset, CA 95684 – view on map – (530) 620-7913
Specializing in – Viognier, Rosé, Zinfandel, Red Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petite Sirah
Vista del Mirador, meaning “view from the gazebo” in Spanish, was established on a 60-acre property in Somerset, CA. The founders, Carey and Anna Maria Bailey, were both engineers that graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Their careers after college took them from contributing to our country’s National Security efforts to non-commercial winemaking for 10 years until they decided to officially found Mirador Winery in 2017.
These engineers knew that the environmental conditions of Fair Play AVA made it the optimal location to grow their grapes. They do everything in-house and limit their production to around 500 to 600 cases per year so that they are only distributing the most high-quality wines.
Both their facilities and grounds are spectacular. From the gazebo, you can look out at the pond and see Flat Creek which runs through the vineyard on its way to the Consumnes River. Be sure to check out the tasting room and winemaking facility during your visit as well.
7050 Fairplay Rd, Fair Play, CA 95684 – view on map – (530) 620-2785
Specializing in – Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Syrah
Shadow Ranch Vineyard is a family-owned winery located on a hilltop property in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The owner and winemaker, Sam Patterson, is all about using his resources. The entire Shadow Ranch winery production focuses on sustainability by using solar power and ensuring their 10 acres of grapes are organically farmed. In 2006, Sam remodeled an old farmhouse on the Shadow ranch property to create a state-of-the-art wine production facility. The other buildings on the grounds date back to 1888, including an old barn that only adds to the beauty and charm of this winery.
The tasting room is also a combination of modern architecture and historical elements of the region. It has a relaxing atmosphere and an extremely knowledgeable staff. Treat yourself to a bottle of wine under the trees while enjoying the view of the rolling vineyards.
7505 Grizzly Flat Rd, Somerset, CA 95684 – view on map – (530) 626-0800
Specializes in – Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah Rosé, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre
Some how Saluti Cellars manages to do it all: rolling vineyards, scenic duck ponds, wonderfully manicured gardens, wine caves, fountains, both an elegant wedding venue and a rustic one, a home for rescued farm animals, horse rides, bed and breakfasts, each unit with their own fireplace and deck, a spa, and a full exercise gym. And just when you thought they couldn’t be any more impressive, everything is 100% solar powered.
The philosophy of owners, Randy and Tina Rossi, is that practicing sustainability does not mean compromising on customer experience, but deeper thought put into each aspect of the business. They use only organic gardening and ethical ranching methods as well as natural cleaning products on all equipment. Customers are provided with complimentary electrical vehicle charging stations as well.
“Saluti” means “greetings” in Italian, which reflects the owners’ focus on creating a welcoming environment for their guests. You will definitely feel at home at this winery, sipping on wine from the comfort of the porch swing or exploring the many walking/hiking trails throughout the property. We highly recommend bringing your friends and family to experience the full Saluti extravaganza.
6320 Marestail Rd, Fair Play, CA 95684 – view on map – (530) 620 – 9463
Specializes in – Rhone Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Grenache
Owner, Jonathan designed his building and winemaking process to be both energy efficient and hands-on. With no employees, Jonathan is a hands-on winemakers. His grapes are all hand-picked and after being pressed, are put underground into integrated barrel storage caves.
From the top of Cedarville’s vineyards, at over 2500 ft. in elevation, are views of Mt. Saint Helena to the West and Pyramid Peak to the East. The property has over 15 acres of organically farmed vines. All of the wines are Estate-Bottled. With this smaller production mindset comes high-quality product being put into each bottle. Jonathan and Susan love to share their expertise from winemaking techniques to the winery business and are happy to answer any questions you might have.
Cedarville tasting are by appointment only, so you will need to plan ahead. The upside, though, is that you are likely to have Jonathan himself guide you through the vineyard and the tasting lineup.
7460 Fairplay Rd, Somerset, CA 95684 – view on map – (916) 936- 3306
Specializes in – Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Red Blend, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah Rose, and Primitivo
A family business that represents the best of the Sierra Foothill Wine Region, Sentivo Winery is a must-stop destination. Their signature toast is, “To friends who are family and family who are friends”. Sentivo harvested its first grapes in 2011 and has continued to craft delicious wines and a welcoming environment ever since.
Sentivo is a wonderful winery to unwind and relax at. The tasting room overlooks the vineyards and the view is absolutely breathtaking. The space is also beautifully done with outdoor fire pits and intimate lounge areas. If you are looking to get together with friends and family, their large outdoor space is perfect for a picnic or group event. The owners are very accommodating, friendly, and engaging. Stop by for a tasting and learn about their unique family story over a glass of chardonnay. A warm atmosphere, knowledgeable staff, and delicious wines . . . Sentivo has it all.
If you’d like to be added to this list, please let us know!