In high school, Scott Harvey—an exchange student from California living in the Rheinland-Pfalz region of Germany—discovered a new passion: winemaking. The interest soon led him back to Germany to serve as an apprentice, and at the tender age of 23, Scott took over as head winemaker for a vineyard back home. After working at several Californian wineries honing and perfecting his skills, the vintner wunderkind began to craft his own vintages alongside his wife, Jana, also a wine-industry vet. Since 2004, the couple has expanded its portfolio into three collections of namesake wines: Scott Harvey, reflecting the fertile terroir of Amador County; Jana, bottled amid Napa Valley's grape-juice rivers; and InZINerator and One Last Kiss, blends of red and white varietals, respectively.
The Sierra Nevada Mountains don’t just make for beautiful vistas—their lower slopes also play host to some of the region’s best grapes. Winery by the Creek and Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards, nestled in the foothills, harvests the vines and transforms them into nuanced, award winning varietals, such as Black Muscat. The winery plays host to a slew of other regional wines as well, including Splashdown’s Zinfandels and Charles B. Mitchell’s award-winning grand reserve. As Dionysian evangelists, the winery’s staff hosts tasting events, many of which are held on the patio by the creek that overlooks the mountains. For a peek behind the scenes, you can spelunk into the onsite wine cave where the wines are aged. There, you can sip their way through candle-lit futures tastings, sampling up-and-coming wines right from the barrel.
Perry Creek Winery's consistent 90+ point ratings in Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast are due in no small part to the efforts of vintner Scott Johnson. Drawing on cultivating experience in Napa, Austria, and the Sierra Foothills, the winemaker has carefully engineered 40 acres of ideal soil that brims with hand-pruned grape vines. The many available varietals embody their distinct heritage, with different wine lineages such as the Altitude 2401 Reserve Series, the strong wines of the Cobra selection, and the estate wines that harness the diversity of the land?s grapes. An online store features the winery's choicest merchandise, from current varietals to futures and wearable hats and shirts made entirely of old corks.
Cuisine Type: Wine
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 1?5
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Red Wine
Alcohol: Wine Only
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Pro Tip: We have bar stools made from used wine barrels for tasters to sit and enjoy their tastings
Sue Rueger owns renegade winery, but she describes at least half of her duties as pouring. "We don't close at 5 like most wineries," she says. "If we have tasters there enjoying their wine, we stay open until the last person leaves." She takes a very casual, New World attitude to wine tasting, making the experience fun and accessible.
When it comes to wine-making, though, she and her husband Mark are decidedly old-school. "We make our wine the old fashioned way, never filtered, never fined," she says. They hold every wine to high standards, choosing quality over quantity in production, a standard which holds true for the lone white wine they produce as well as the myriad reds.
Two friendly dogs, Bailey and Kali, are the first representatives of Amador Cellars that visitors might encounter. The canines often trot alongside guests from the winery's parking lot to the door of its tasting room. There, members of the Long family take over, pouring glasses of wine crafted from small crops of grapes and aged in oak barrels for up to 20 months. Selections range from a 2009 sangiovese that carries hints of chocolate and cherry to a 2010 barbera with notes of plum and coffee. However, the winery is best known for their annual zinfandel yield, which has earned them awards in the Best of the Bay's Zin Challenge.
The Longs also lead groups on tours of their winery, explaining the unique construction of its 2-foot-thick concrete-and-straw walls, built following blueprints from Edgar Allen Poe's “The Cask of Amontillado.” Intentionally rusted rooftops and views of rolling vineyards enhance the quaint Old-World aesthetic of the grounds.