The Sierra Foothills wine region is huge and spans across eight counties. The main concentration of high-quality wineries, though, are in five sub-regions that lie in Amador County and El Dorado County between Sacramento and the Sierras.
The goal of Foothills Wino is to organize information about these sub-regions in a way that will help you navigate otherwise confusing territory. Tasting wines up here in the Foothills requires an adventurous spirit, but it can be amazingly rewarding.
People often think of the wineries of the region as folksy, quaint, and a fun place to stop on the way to Tahoe to get some local, gold-country culture. And yes, there is that. But there is so much more if you know where to look. There are some truly world-class wineries to be found, and we are here to spotlight those for you, from a Sommelier’s perspective. Our focus is on the wine and on the experience of tasting quality wines.
Each sub-region is unique and worthy of spending an entire weekend to explore. Click on each to learn more and to see our Foothills Wino Top-Rated Wineries and other noteworthy ones to keep an eye on. The learn more about our ratings, click here.
Amador County (Shenandoah Valley and Sutter Creek) is well-known for Italian varietals, such as Zinfandel, Barbera, and Sangiovese. Some spectacular versions of other warm-climate varieties, such as Tempranillo and Grenache, are starting to emerge. To get here, take either CA-16 from Sacramento or Latrobe Road from El Dorado Hills.
El Dorado County is known for tremendous grape diversity that arises from countless microclimates. You will find everything from Rhone to Bordeaux varieties, and even some Pinot Noirs and Rieslings. Apple Hill/Camino/Gold Hill, just up the road from Placerville, is one of the biggest apple harvest destinations in the state, but the grapes are just as much of a draw. This is the easiest of the sub-regions to reach as all of the wineries are just off Highway 50. In Fair Play and Pleasant Valley you will find all sorts of amazing Mediterranean varieties, along with some delicious Syrahs and Zinfandels and perhaps the world’s best Petite Sirahs. Getting to these regions takes some effort, though, with lots of twists and turns. You can either head south from Apple Hill/Camino or northeast from the Shenandoah Valley in Amador County.
When you are planning your visit, you will want to check out our where to stay and eat page for the best of what the Foothills has to offer, in our opinion.