Saturday, December 5, 2009



You’ve sipped wine from Napa and Sonoma, you went “Sideways” into Santa Ynez and watch Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen murder merlot – but have you enjoyed the blended grapes from Amador County?

When Richard and I were visiting my brother Bob and his wife Nguyen Thanksgiving week, we discovered some new joys to living in Sacramento. First, there are some really fantastic restaurants including a great new pizza place (soon to be its own blog) – and I love pizza… then there’s Jack’s, a supremely satisfying sandwich place (and, yeh, I really love sandwiches, too) … But Sac, as the natives fondly refer to their city, has more than great food, it has the most varied selection of gorgeous, mature trees outside of Paris, it has a funky, hip, thriving mid-town, parks galore and it is the capital of California. Arnie and Maria live there (well, for now anyway)… Ron and Nancy lived there and Jerry Brown dated Linda Rondstadt when he lived there. One of the city’s biggest assets, however, is that it’s an hour and a half from San Francisio, an hour or so from Tahoe, an hour from Napa/Sonoma and less than an hour from Amador County. Talk about being centrally located!!!

Still sated from the boeuf bourguignon dinner Bob and Nguyen had made the night before (see earlier blog), we packed up some of the leftover cheeses, crackers and fruit for a picnic and headed for wine country in the Sierra foothills.

It was lunch time when we hit Young’s, the first winery on our real life ‘Sideways’ tour. With a rolling hill vineyard, lush, unpretentious gardens, a serene pond, two huge, friendly dogs and a big, ol’ funky barn-like building for tasting, I decided I could live there.

And the wines were good. Especially the reds. In fact, Amador County is famous for its Zinfandels. After the tasting, we found an umbrella-ed picnic table in one of the terraced gardens overlooking the pond and broke out the cheeses and fruits and reveled in the scenery.

Who knew grape vines had ‘foliage?’

Well, I didn’t.

After lunch, we hit three more tasting rooms: Karmere Vineyards & Winery

Toscano Shenandoah Valley Estate Wines

and the Story Winery

Each had lovely tasting rooms, beautiful scenery and fine wines. Richard and I especially loved Story’s 2006 bottle of Gold Hill zin and 2005 Creekside zin from old vines… so much so that Bob & Nguyen bought us a bottle of each for Christmas (nothing like starting the gift giving early when it tastes so good!).

Another bottle they had given us awhile ago was a Karmere La Petite Drew Syrah (named after a grandchild, if I recall) which I’m looking forward to having one night with dinner since we liked the syrahs we tasted at that winery.

Sipped to saturated satisfaction we headed home with Nguyen, our designated driver, behind the wheel. While we hopped from one vineyard to another, we asked her if she was having fun even though she didn’t sample any of the wines. Her answer was a resounding yes. The beauty of these Sierra foothills is breathtaking and transported us to wine country in Italy or France (at least in our dreams) and we all had a great time being together, taking pictures, laughing, talking and, of course, sipping.


bobsaari said...

Yup, It was a wonderful day.... Beautiful, late fall weather and no crowds!! Plus, the tasting is free!!!! There are so many more to try..

Anonymous said...

Now, I must hang my head in shame for taking all of this so much for granted. Living here all my life, I tend to forget how lucky I am to have the El Dorado/Amador wineries and the Gold Country at my finger tips. Next time check out the marvelous restaurants tucked in here and there and the Art Galleries and Antique stores that line the streets of Ione and the rest of the Gold Country towns.
Glad you enjoyed! Granny Barb

ilona saari said...

I've had some incredible meals in restaurants in Sac from the Waterboy to the Firehouse and little Asian places and the pizza place I'm going to write about next. And then there's Jack's for salads and sandwiches... You're lucky, GB, to have all that and great wine countries nearby...

Richard said...

I'd love to work at/for a winery! We'd save so much money with the employee discounts! Lovely piece... and that's no lie. 'Cause it's a zin to tell a lie.

Susan said...

Sounds fabulous. i could liver there, too.
Also, there are some great yoga retreats a little north in Grass Valley. Check it out the next time you go.