El Dorado County is home to a veritable A-Z of different varietals. On a typical visit to this sub-appellation of the 2,600,000-acre Sierra Foothills AVA (one of the largest in California), you can taste barbera, cabernet sauvignon, mourvedre, pinot noir and gris, roussanne, sagrantino, tempranillo, Viognier and Zinfandel all before lunch and move on to another 10 seemingly incongruous varietals in the afternoon (hopefully with a coffee or nap in between).
While most wine regions could never pull off such a mind-boggling patchwork of diversity, El Dorado does it with ease. And yet, why does it remain the best wine region you’ve never heard of, and certainly never visited?
“We want to be known for quality. But, more importantly, we want to be known,” said Lexi Boeger of Boeger Winery in Placerville, a town of about 11,000, centrally located between Sacramento South and Lake Tahoe. This first-things-first mentality permeates the region, and yet the wines there are as deserving of recognition for quality as they are for, well, recognition.
El Dorado has been praised for its treatment of Rhone Varietals, and yet Italian, Spanish and French varietals all seem equally at home there. This is because of the remarkable microclimate and topography of the region. There are immense elevation changes and the weather and soil varies wildly not only by winery, but by plot within each winery.
El Dorado has a warm, small-town vibe, and deeply authentic personalities – presumably the result of relative anonymity and the confidence that can only come with well-made products and excellence in service. Whether it’s dinner paired with carefully chosen local wines at The Independent in downtown Placerville, a stay at the cozy Fitzpatrick Lodge, or a quick trip to Coloma, home of California’s Gold Rush, visitors are sure to find a reason to remember the region.
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