Hidden in the rolling Sierra foothills are some of the best wine grapes you’ll find anywhere.
Rancho Cordova is nestled between Sacramento and the rolling hills of Amador and El Dorado counties, making it the perfect base camp for a California wine tasting weekend.
The foothills of the Sierra Nevada, at 1,500 - 3,000 feet, are at the prime elevation for grape growing. The shallow, mountainous soils produce moderate yields and high-quality grapes. Over the years, this unique combination of climate and culture have drawn winemakers and grape growers from all over the world.
The most popular wine coming out of this region is the legendary Zinfandels of California’s Gold Country, which consistently gain national and even international attention. The full-bodied Syrahs, creamy Viogniers, smoky Tempranillos, and rich, jammy Barberas are just some of the other acclaimed complex wines this region produces.
If you're planning a weekend wine tasting trip to the area, you can stay in Rancho Cordova and explore our amazing local wine regions nearby. Here's our recommendation for a two-day weekend wine getaway:
When you arrive in Rancho Cordova and get settled at your hotel, start with a trip to Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley, which is less than 30 minutes away and is famous for its Zinfandel, as well as other varietals.
To get to Amador County from Rancho Cordova, you can also head east on California-16, which will bring you to a cluster of wineries and tasting rooms. Helwig, a winery in Plymouth, is one of several wineries in the area that offer outdoor seating in their beautiful Pavilion.
Head down into the wine cave to cool off and tour the aging barrels of wine. Bring your own food for an on-site picnic or wander down to Taste, a premier dining establishment in the town of Plymouth where you'll find fresh, local, flavorful fare to sample. The historic Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek is another good dining option for a late lunch or early dinner before you head back to Rancho Cordova.
On your second day of wine tasting, head to neighboring El Dorado County, which offers plenty of wineries with tasting rooms and award-winning producers. From Rancho Cordova, hop on Highway 50 to reach some of El Dorado County's best wineries. In El Dorado County, we recommend a stop at Lava Cap and tasting the reserve flight at Boeger Winery too!
During spring and summer, many visitors will go for a whitewater rafting trip on the nearby South Fork of the American River, the namesake of Lava Cap’s popular American River Red Cabernet Sauvignon Blend. After a rafting trip, you can then relax and tour the surrounding tasting rooms.
For dinner, stop off in downtown Placerville for a hearty meal at Bricks, a classy but casual local favorite that serves updated American fare.
Pro Tip: Want to take some memories home with you? If you are traveling by air, the standard weight limit for suitcases is 50 lbs, so depending on how you pack you can add about 6 bottles of wine in your checked suitcase. Many wineries will also offering shipping.
To learn more about our local wines before your visit, pick up Barbara Keck’s book Wineries of the Sierra Foothills, an insightful read about the region.