Reporting back on our weekend ...
We stayed in Amador City, in the Imperial Hotel. I wanted to love this place but the beds were unbelievably uncomfortable and I was put off right from the get-go by the owner and another employee sitting in the lobby literally watching us struggle up the stairs with our luggage. For $150/night I really expect a little more, especially in a region touting itself as the next Napa.
However, Amador City has some things going for it - great central location, quiet, lots of cool backroads nearby, not as hokey as Sutter Creek, and Andrae's Bakery in Amador City is totally awesome. Fabulous fresh breads, breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and a huge selection of cheeses etc for picnic supplies.
We had dinner one night at Susan's Place in Sutter Creek - awesome local wine list, good food. We had soup (tomato florentine with white beans, and cream of asparagus), a greek pot roast (with some lovely cinnamon and other seasonings) and beef short ribs with polenta, and a lovely (seemingly housemade) caramel walnut torte. They also have a new 10% discount for cash, and also offer retail sales of wine where everything they have on the menu (including some "sale" wines) is available for take-away at $10 off the menu price (in some cases cheaper than at the wineries!).
We had dinner another night at Bellotti's in Sutter Creek, at the American Exchange hotel, and it was really, really sub-par, by any estimation. We had a polenta appetizer that had a slice of melted sandwich provolone on top. We had a burger (soggy bun, totally overcooked grey meat, old "set up" (tomato/onion/lettuce) with wilted lettuce and dried out onion) and stuffed pork chop which was similarly drab. It was really not worth the price ($72 with tip and 3 glasses of wine).
Amador Vintage Market in Plymouth is indeed open (maybe restricted weeeknd hours or something?) and we got some great sandwiches and drinks there. They also have Ciao Bella Gelato and espresso drinks.
Dobra Zemlya - nice grounds and tasting room, but the folks behind the tasting bar were a little strange and not very well educated about their wines.
Story Winery - Absolutely beautiful grounds, very friendly folks, but it was packed with a tour group so we didn't get a chance to try most of the wines.
Wilderotter - bought several bottles of their various whites, really great.
Nine Gables: lovely grounds, friendly folks, nice and small.
We also went to Bray, Cooper, Renwood, and Stevenot (near Murphys) which was absolutely gorgeous and the wines were an incredible value (all around $10 per bottle). All the wineries were great, honestly - it would be splitting hairs to say certain ones were better or worse.
All in all a great weekend - lovely area, peaceful, relatively undiscovered. We also went on the tour of the Black Chasm in Volcano, which was really cool.
Maya, thanks for a great review. I've printed it for our Amador wine file.
I'm curious why you didn't have dinner at the Imperial Hotel. I've wondered about it. We had a wonderful dinner there a loooong time ago. Maybe the owner's attitude had something to do with your decision to pass it by.
Just returned to our digs after dinner at Bellotti's. Found it quite nice.Dinner came with a salad with very fresh greens. My cannelloni had an excellent sausage filling and topped with a very nice marinara that had some zing. My wife's beef ravs were not "excellent", but good nonetheless. Dinner with two glasses of wine was $45. Same place???
Amador County is the crown Zinfandel jewel. But you will find that each winery will have white wine offerings but it is not their specialty.
We went to Incahoots about a month ago and enjoyed it. It's a BBQ/pizza establishment. Big portions, casual atmosphere, reasonable prices. It is hard to find good "casual" restaurants in this region so I would definately try it.
On the other hand I posted recently about a poor experience eating at Taste - also in Plymouth that you may want to look at. I'm hoping it was an isolated incident as this restaurant typically gets high marks but it was not good for our visit.
Please report upon your return. It's lovely country and relatively undiscovered - we love it.
Re: Taste Restaurant in Plymouth.
I'm certainly sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your visit to the restaurant. Taste has become our favorite place to dine in the greater Sacramento area. Well worth the short pleasant drive. We have always been treated to the most gracious service, and wonderful food. I recommend this restaurant to all of my friends and business associates. Also, they have special reduced price tasting menus on Mondays accompanied by selected wine pairings.