If you’re looking for The Best Sierra Foothills Wineries to visit, you’re in the right spot. Located in the Fair Play AVA in El Dorado County within the heart of the Sierra Foothills of California with altitudes ranging from 2000-3000 feet above sea level, sits Vista Del Mirador Winery. Owners Carey and Anna Maria Bailey both bring a combination of engineering and agricultural backgrounds that play into the winery’s critical evolution.
The Baileys focus on process management, performance measurement and an insatiable curiosity give the winery a modern feel while also providing visitors a full transparent view into what goes into winemaking. They are always striving to make things better and more efficient. Every new barrel of wine presents distinct challenges and exciting opportunities to create the best possible wines.
Carey and Anna Maria both were exposed to agriculture early on in their lives. Carey’s family comes from a farming background in Nebraska while Anna Maria’s were cattle ranchers in Arizona and Northern California. She caught the wine bug long before Carey tasting Dry Creek Zinfandels on her uncle’s cattle ranch in Healdsburg.
The Baileys knew when they retired from their full time engineering jobs, they wanted to make small production artisanal wines. Carey has always had an affinity for the higher elevations– where the pine trees, oak trees and manzanitas meet. They started looking for properties in the Sierra Foothills at the snow line. The Fair Play area in El Dorado County satisfied that criteria. They found a property that already had grapes planted as well as a building that could easily be converted into a winemaking facility. They named it Vista del Mirador Winery in honor of the gazebo on the property, which in Spanish is Mirador.
The Best Sierra Foothills Wineries – Fair Play Wineries
Prior to starting a commercial winery, the Baileys spent ten years doing home winemaking. The key takeaway was that now they could make wine to their own specifications and focus heavily on the viticulture aspects of what style they were targeting.
The estate vineyards, which are commonly referred to as Flat Creek Vineyards, located at the base of Mt. Aukum, where Flat Creek run through the vineyard on the way to the Consumnes River, comprises 20 acres of planted grapes. The climate is a combination of warm days and cooler nights due the higher altitude. The grapes benefit from the lengthy growing season and abundance of sunshine giving way to complex tannins, bright fruit flavors and balanced acidity.
The Baileys make several different Syrahs that stylistically tend to be more full-bodied with a touch of new oak spiciness. In 2017, they pulled from different blocks in the vineyard and realized each area offered up slightly different flavor characteristics based on location. For their estate Syrah, they typically pull from the middle block as it provides for the most well rounded, balanced expression of the variety. In the spirit of Côte-Rôtie, a wine growing region in southern France, they also do a field blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Viognier. The Viognier enhances the color, flavor and aromatics of the wine providing for more of a floral boutique and tangerine notes on the nose.
About Mirador Winery
Mirador Winery also offers several Zinfandels. After their first experience with Linne Calodo’s 2006 Cherry Red, a Zinfandel based blend, they decided to make a distinctive Zinfandel based blend. They called it Tesoros which translates to “Treasures” from Spanish. It’s a composition of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Barbera. “This wine highlights treasures of the Fair Play AVA, a grape growing region since the California Gold Rush, yet it is still a relatively unknown, untapped goldmine of high-quality fruit”, said Anna Maria.
The Baileys continue to update infrastructure and add different varieties. They recently just planted 1,200 Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Fair Play is evolving slowly as a wine destination but there have been quite a few changes in the past few years where several new wineries have opened, and more established wineries have changed ownership. They continue to forge partnerships locally and hope to unlock the area’s high quality potential as a world class grape growing region.
About Fair Play
Fair Play attracts wine lovers from the surrounding regions, including El Dorado, Amador, and The Sierra Foothills. The region’s focus on quality, hospitality, and scenic beauty attracts more and more visitors each year, including the 2 million residents about an hour away in Sacramento. Just one visit and your make this region one of your favorite alpine destinations.
About Mirador Winery
Who – Owners – Carey and Anna Maria Bailey
Winemaker – Carey Bailey
Assistant Winemaker – Anna Maria Bailey
What – Family owned and operated winery in Fairplay.
When – Open, Fri – Sun 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Where – 2501 Omo Ranch Rd, Somerset, CA 95684
Reservations – Can be made online here – Drop in when you see the gate open.
Phone Number – (530) 620-7913
Website – https://www.miradorwinery.com/
Best Fair Play Wines
In winemaking, great wine starts with great grapes. Here in the Fair Play AVA, it is all about the terroir, the environmental conditions (soil, weather, etc.) where the grapes are grown. We chose the Fair Play AVA because it offers ideal conditions for wine grape growing. The soil is comprised largely of decomposed granite with layers of clay and loam, offering great drainage for the grapevines. We have nice, warm days and cool evenings with little rain in the summer. We keep our grape yields to between 2 and 3 tons per acre and harvest our fruit at optimal ripeness in the fall, said Carey.
Below are the wines we are currently selling and tasting at the winery. Hope to see you there soon!
Ruby red in color with flavors of raspberry, blackberry and dark cherry. This full-bodied wine showcases density, nice texture followed up by a long finish.
A composition of 63% Zinfandel, 18% Barbera, 11% Petite Sirah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Syrah. Gorgeous dark stone fruit aromatics with flavors of dark cherry, olive and a little spice. A nice balance of acidity and fruit flavors.
80% Syrah co-fermented with 20% Viognier. Lovely floral notes with flavors of plum, strawberry and a touch of tobacco. Generous mouthfeel with a smooth finish.
Performed aromatics with flavors of lemon, mango and honey. A nice balance of crisp acidity and bright fruit flavors.
This dense, impressive, well-saturated wine offers generous black fruits, dark chocolate and mint on a medium to full body and moderately tannic texture. It’s delicious, well balanced and well-structured for mid-term aging. Best from 2024. Wine Enthusiast 93 PTS. – Jim Gordon