Shenandoah Valley of CaliforniaCharles Spinetta Winery and Wildlife Art Gallery
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Few red lights, but there is much red wine
Zinfandels bring recognition to Amador County
By Peter Tira, Stockton Record, May 20, 2003

There are three stoplights in all of Amador County, and that fact alone goes a long way in describing the character of the county's wine region. The epicenter is located in the Shenandoah Valley, in the town of Plymouth. The region is served by quiet, two-lane roads that slice through verdant rolling foothills dotted with oaks, orchards, vineyards and wildflowers.
Looking Down!
Award-winning, hearty and increasingly popular red Zinfandels have brought the area distinction and recognition, though the fertile soil produces some 20 varieties. Amador County carefully guards and cultivates the rural, agricultural feel of its wine region even as it continues to expand. You can hear wild turkeys gobbling in the hills, have a picnic on pristine grounds overlooking the pristine Consumnes River valley and taste mostly without charge.
Wild Turkeys!
Norman Leaper lives in San Francisco and has been visiting these foothill wineries for years. ''We hate how crowded and hectic Sonoma and Napa have become,'' he said after a recent stop at Shenandoah Vineyards with his wife and two visiting friends from Atlanta. ''Some world-class wines are being produced in this area, so it's kind of fun to come up here and enjoy them.''

Amador County's history as a winemaking region dates to the gold rush, when Italian immigrants, lured by the prospect of a better life, flocked to the area to work and found the soil and temperate climate -- above the fog line but below the snow line -- good for growing grapes.

Prohibition wiped out the estimated 100 or so wineries existing before then, and the county's wine region lay dormant until a new generation of winemakers and entrepreneurs revived it in the 1970s.

Many of the wineries are small family operations that offer an opportunity for tasters to interact with the owners.

''Up here, you have a 95 percent chance of meeting an owner,'' said Mike Spinetta, the 27-year-old son of Charles Spinetta, founder of the Charles Spinetta Winery. ''And if you come up here twice, you'd probably meet the owner of each place.''

Spinetta is one such family affair with Charles Spinetta and his sons staffing the wine bar and chatting with tasters while his wife,
Laura, handles the artwork. The winery doubles as a wildlife art gallery.

The Amador County Wine Festival takes place June 28 at the county fairgrounds in Plymouth. It runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with wine tasting, dancing, silent auction and a tri-tip dinner. Mike Spinetta, for one, says it isn't something wine lovers should miss. ''It's the best event up here for wine,'' he said. ''It's one of the best festivals in the state.''
Advance tickets for the Amador County Wine Festival are available for $40. Tickets are available at the door for $50. The pre-sale deadline is June 24. More information is available at the Amador County Wine Grape Growers' Association web site or by calling 245-4910. ACWGGA image
Amador County
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Charles Spinetta Winery, Spinetta Family Vineyards, Zinetta, and the CSW Logo are registered trademarks of Charles J. Spinetta. Unless otherwise specified, all images and copy contained within the charlesspinettawinery.com domain are Copyright 1984-2015 Charles J. Spinetta. All rights reserved. Charles Spinetta Winery and Wildlife Art Gallery 12557 Steiner Road, Plymouth, California 95669, USA, telephone: (209) 245-3384, facsimile: (209) 245-3386