Wofford Acres Vineyards is a small family estate winery in the Sierra foothills near Placerville (member of the Apple Hill Growers Association). We opened the Sales Room for business in October 2003 and each year brings a new set of challenges and rewards to winery ownership. Paul Wofford is our winemaker, with 36 years in
What began as Mike Owen's small winemaking venture in a private basement in 1981 blossomed into a full-scale commercial operation by 2000. Under the name Crystal Basin Cellars, Mike and the team have continued to rely on the principles that helped them grow: they source all their grapes from local vineyards, and work with a team of part-time but dedicated wine enthusiasts. Their efforts have won them numerous accolades at the California State Fair, including a double-gold award for Best Syrah in 2013.
Just next door to the independent winery, unassumingly housed inside a former Chevron gas station, is Crystal Basin Bistro. Warm, earth-toned interiors surround patrons with quirky design elements such as a giant metal spoon, spatula, and whisk hung from the ceiling, and an outdoor patio lets them soak up the sun or practice bald-eagle calls. Internationally influenced shared plates such as carnitas tacos, Russian cheese bread, and Asian-style pork dumplings pair with the winery's renowned private-label and bistro wines, some with names inspired by jazz-age references in pop culture. Regularly, the bistro and winery explode with live-music events such as the summer concert series. From May to October, the lawn fills with music from local and nationally recognized acts such as Laurie Morvan, Ronnie Montrose Band Remembered, and the Styx tribute band Renegade Rocks.
The Sierra Nevada foothills have been tilled since the time of the gold rush, but its thin soil allows only the heartiest grapevines to thrive. But when they grow, the grapes there produce powerful wines full of intense flavors. The staff at Auriga Wine Cellars specialize in reds, which range from the peppery, black cherry notes of their Barbera to a double-gold-award-winning shiraz-and-syrah blend aged for one year in French and American oak. They complement these robust offerings with their small-batch sparkling wine and their sangiovese, which tastes of slightly spicy raspberries and strawberries with a hint of basil, thyme, and sage. They sell their vintages by the bottle, but the shop’s wine club delivers bottles to aficionados three times a year, letting them try out new vintages or spend more frustrating evenings trying to squeeze a model ship inside them.
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.
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.
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.