Welcome to the third installment of our El Dorado Wine Country Adventure, as we travel through the last of four appellations from this up and coming wine region: Gold Hill.
El Dorado County lies directly south of Placer County. Both counties are known for their rich gold deposits and the wild part they played in California’s history. Not much gold panning goes on there anymore, but amidst the bucolic settings of ranches and farms, there is a new gold being discovered: wine.
The El Dorado Winery Association is nurturing this relatively new industry with fun and tasteful events, PR and information. A visit to El Dorado easily rivals a wine tour of Napa and Sonoma. In fact, it is impossible to visit all the area’s wineries in a weekend, or even a long weekend. Not only are there dozens of wineries, they are separated by narrow, windy country roads, which force visitors to slow down, relax and enjoy.
The appellation “Greater El Dorado” lies most west of the four appellations (Fair Play, Pleasant Valley and Apple Hill/Camino) nearest the foothills of the great Sierra Nevada Mountains. These mountains rise out of the American River valley, where the very first gold was discovered. The enormous amounts of minerals in the soil (magma-based with high levels of acidity), together with a vast variety of micro-climates and long growing season, create a perfect wine environment.
Gold Hill Vineyard faces the American River Valley, and on distant hills is a blanket of golden California poppies. The winery has been producing award-winning Bordeaux style reds and Chardonnay since 1985 and Italian and Rhone varietals since 2001. If their award-winning wines weren’t enough, they also have six wonderful handcrafted beers!
David Girard Vineyards sits at a 1,200 foot elevation where, according to the winery’s website, “temperature and conditions combine to provide an environment ideally suited to growing the premier grape varietals of southern France’s Rhône valley.” David Girard Vineyards prides itself on making wonderful wine from wonderful grapes grown on wonderful vineyards. That’s hard to beat!
We hope you have enjoyed this bucolic romp through California’s beautiful land of the new gold rush. If you go wine tasting in El Dorado County, please tell me about your experience.