El Dorado Wine Country - Any favorites?
In El Dorado County, I would recommend Cedarville and Holly's Hill.
Both are located south of Placerville. Holly's Hill makes excellent white wines,
particularly the Patriarche Blanc, a Roussane-Viognier blend. I also like
the Wylie-Fenaughty Syrah. Their tasting room is open every day. Cedarville
is open only by appointment, but it is possible to get an appointment with relatively
short notice. There is not a single weak wine in their lineup, which consists of
grenache, syrah, viognier, petite sirah, cab, and zinfandel. At their open house
last week, they had a vertical tasting of their syrahs, and their 2004 and 2005
syrahs were really impressive.
In Amador, I recommend Vino Noceto, which specializes in sangiovese, barbera and
zin. Make sure to taste their block designate sangioveses: Marmellata,
Dos Oakies and Hillside. Their sangioveses are very consistent across the years.
Their Linsteadt Barbera and OGP zins are also impressive. Their neighbor is Terre Rouge/
Easton, which makes several fine syrahs and a zin. Finally, I am also quite fond of
Wilderotter, whose 2008 Barbera is really outstanding, and which makes a delicious
sauvignon blanc, and of C.G. Di Arie, which has a fine barbera, syrah and several
high quality zins.
None of these wineries charges a tasting fee, which is quite a change compared to
Napa or Sonoma. Finally, if you start your visit from Placerville, you might consider stopping
at Allez to buy sandwiches to go: http://allezeldorado.com
re: Ed Dibble
I have not yet gotten to visit Miraflores. Together with Holly's Hill, Sierra Vista
and Narrowgate, which are all clustered in the same area, they have a
special event in late May called Rock and Rhones, but I have never
been free on that weekend. They are the new kid on the block, since
Sierra Vista is the oldest winery in this area-- its owner John McCready
founded the winery in 1972 and experimented with Bordeaux varieties
(cab, merlot) before gradually shifting to rhone varieties (plus zin whose
presence in the Sierra Foothills goes back to the gold mining days).
The newer wineries, such as Holly's Hill and the most recent being Miraflores have
followed on the Rhone track.
By the way, there are a lot of other interesting wineries in the Placerville area,
such as David Girard, Boeger, and Lava Cap, so it is not easy for newer wineries
to break from the pack and gain recognition.