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Pleasant Valley is a remote, beautiful valley sandwiched between Apple Hill/Camino and Fair Play in El Dorado County. The region is not a separate AVA, but we believe it is distinctive enough to be its own sub-region.

The Sierra Foothills are made up of ridges of rock and deposits that extend downward from the Sierra Nevada Mountains like fingers, each carved by raging rivers which carry silt and yes, sometimes gold. Atop a large finger between the American River system and the Cosumnes River system sits Pleasant Valley, whose geology and positioning create a relatively gentle ramp down the Sierra slopes. Shortly after the discovery of gold in 1848 a few miles to the north on the American River, this unique valley was used to as the western terminus of the first wagon road across the Sierra, built to help Mormon laborers traverse from Salt Lake City to Gold Country. The trail was also frequented by gold rush pioneers and settlers, and soon the town of Pleasant Valley arose and would become the largest in the county. Tiger Lily Winery and Hotel, named after the local wildflower, was born and became the largest winery in the region and, by some accounts, in the state. It thrived for several decades before Prohibition brought the wine and spirits industry crashing to a halt. 

Pleasant Valley has geology quite different than its neighboring sub-regions. Since there are no major rivers that flow through Pleasant Valley, the valley floor is at a relatively high elevation and tends to be a mix of decomposed volcanic and alluvial soils. On the edges of the uplift, though, there can be extremely steep slopes and soils more typical of the rest of the Foothills. Along the south edge, vineyards can take advantage of both the steep south-facing slopes and free-draining soils on the south side of the edge and the more gentle north facing slopes and richer soils on the north side. This, of course, leads to a wide variation in grapes and styles.

There are many vineyards in Pleasant Valley, but there are only a handful of wineries that have the hearty constitution to make a go of it in this area that gets very little tourist traffic. The ones that are here, though, are fantastic and are well worth the trip. 


REGION: Pleasant Valley (El Dorado Co)
3680 Leisure Lane
Placerville, CA 9
(530) 344-0227 
Daily 10:00-5:00


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Wine: 9.0 (Excellent)
Exclusively Rhone-style wines, mature vines, excellent quality
Facilities: 8.5 (Very Good)
Nice, older hilltop tasting room, local feel 

Hospitality: 8.0 (Good)
Friendly locals of varying skills and knowledge

Reservations: None needed
Pet Policy: Unknown
Sustainability: Sustainable
Carbon Usage: Undisclosed

Holly's Hill

Don’t let the folksy charm of the tasting room and the modest demeanor of the staff fool you, there is some excellent wine including some of the best Rhone-style wines in the state coming out of Holly's Hill.


Holly Cooper’s family owned a cattle ranch on the south edge of Pleasant Valley. The cattle ranchers had no idea the steep south-facing slopes and thin soils were actually ideal for Mediterranean grapes. Holly and her husband Tom decided they wanted to move to the ranch to try their hand at growing, fortuitously, the Rhone-style grapes that they loved. Daughter Carrie got the itch and honed her skills at producing wines in the Rhone style and then met and fell in love with another winemaker, Josh Bendick. Together the two have crafted distinctive Rhone-style wines that are consistently excellent.


Holly’s Hill grows only Rhone varieties. This includes the standards grown throughout the region, such as Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache Bland, Roussanne, Viognier, in addition to many less common varieties, like Counoise, Carignane, Cinsault, and Picpoul Blanc. Carrie and Josh produce single-varietal versions of many of the grapes, and some complex southern Rhone style blends they refer to as Patriarch and Patriarch Blanc.

The tasting room is beautifully perched atop the southern edge of Pleasant Valley and offers a southerly view towards Fair Play and Amador County. The staff is friendly, and the tasting flights are nicely designed. Food and cheese pairings are often provided on the weekends, and if you are lucky you can stumble onto one of their vertical tastings of Patriarch. The only problem with Holly’s Hill is their own success. They have a very loyal following and wine club, and many of the wines sell out quickly.


REGION: Pleasant Valley (El Dorado Co)
2120 Four Springs Trail
Placerville, CA 9
(530) 647-8505
Daily 11:00-5:00


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Wine: 9.5 (Exceptional)
Exceptional quality across a wide range of styles, dessert wines notable 
Facilities: 9.0 (Excellent)
Grand, mediterranean inspired tasting room, nice patio seating

Hospitality: 9.0 (Excellent)
Friendly pouring staff, nice pairing options 

Reservations: Recommended
Pet Policy: Outside, on leash
Sustainability: Sustainable
Carbon Usage: Solar powered


You turn off Sly Park Road and then a couple of turns on Four Springs Trail transports you to the Old World. The rolling 252 acre property invokes images of the Tuscan countryside. 45 acres of vines surround an opulent tasting room that features century-old wooden beams from the Oakland Ferry Building and 200-year old stone flooring from Europe.

Marco Capelli, a Foothills legend, was the long-time winemaker here and still consults. Now, young, visionary winemaker Fernando Abarca has taken the reigns following a longtime apprenticeship with Marco. Miraflores has a wide range of wines and styles, all of exceptional quality, but their dessert wines are particularly noteworthy. The Botricelli is made from botrytis-affected Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. The Angelica is made from Mission grapes and is inspired by the wines produced centuries ago by Spanish missionaries. The Black Muscat and the Muscat Canelli are both amazing, as well.

The tasting room staff is knowledgeable and friendly. The outdoor seating is lovely. Food pairings are common so call ahead to see what’s in store. 

REGION: Pleasant Valley (El Dorado Co)
4560 Cabernet Way
Placerville, CA 9
(530) 622-7221
Daily 11:00-5:00 (7:00 Fri and Sat)


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Wine: 9.5 (Exceptional)
Old vines plus new highly skilled team, very exciting
Facilities: 9.5 (Exceptional)
Perfect mix of old and new. Stylish and functional 

Hospitality: 9.5 (Exceptional)
Wonderfully pleasant staff, great food, especially the pizza

Reservations: Needed for large groups
Pet Policy: Welcome on leash
Sustainability: Sustainable
Carbon Usage: Solar power, EV charging

Sierra Vista Vineyards & Winery

Sierra Vista is one of the oldest post-prohibition wineries in El Dorado county, dating back to the early 1970’s. The property is located atop the southern edge of Pleasant Valley and sports a lovely view of the Sierras and the Pleasant Valley region. Gentle hilltop slopes face in all directions, offering a wide variety of aspects and microclimates.

As one of three founding wineries in post-prohibition El Dorado County, Sierra Vista was groundbreaking and helped lay the foundation for what the region is today. After some early success, there was a down period as the original founder aged, and the facilities fell into disrepair. Those days are now over, and new owner Jim Czachorowski has the wines and winery on the verge of true greatness. 

In addition to the infusion of capital and elbow grease to upgrade the facilities, Jim made two game-changing decisions. He decided to make the most of the 50-year-old, own-rooted vines he inherited with the property, and he brought on an amazingly talented young winemaker, Ryan Wright, to run things. In addition to old vine Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Chardonnay (made in three styles), there are new comers, like Picpoul Blanc that has been grafted onto old Viognier roots. 

We cannot overstate how excited we are with the direction this winery is heading. Transformation takes time, of course, and Ryan is just learning how to best utilize the amazing fruit from this property, but this winery is heading to number one with a bullet. We were so impressed with the transformations, we wrote a 6000 word feature on this winery, its colorful characters, and one incredible wine in particular. Check it out here

With wonderful indoor and outdoor event space and seating and with regular concerts and happy hours, you can easily spend an entire day relaxing here and enjoying the view and the company. 

Sierra Vista

Narrow Gate Vineyards
One of the only certified biodynamic vineyards in the Foothills, husband and wife team Frank and Teena Hildebrand offer small lot, hand-crafted wines in their tasting room in the wine cellar tucked into the pines. Frank handles the vines and the winemaking, and Teena handles the business and marketing end and usually can be found in the tasting room telling the story of the winery’s development and the transition to biodynamic. A wide range of interesting wines, some of which are outstanding, are offered.

Thurs-Sun 12:00-5:00 (opens at 11:00 Fri, Sat)

Ursa Vineyards
Ursa is an intriguing and little-known winery, located in the rolling hills of Pleasant Valley. It is owned by married and highly reputed winemaking duo Greg Stokes and Deborah Elissagaray. Deborah’s family connection to the Pyrenees shapes the direction of the Ursa wines. The wines we’ve tasted are wonderful, with an intriguing range of Tannats and Iberian Peninsula varieties. 
Tasting by appointment only

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