The roots of old Zinfandel grapevines run deep in this northeastern region of California, with winemaking here dating back to the Gold Rush days of the 1850s. Now, an explosion of wineries, wine tours, tasting rooms, and restaurants specializing in wine country cuisine has added a jolt of grape-fueled energy to the Sierra foothills, where more than 100 wineries now produce a wide range of varietals, most notably Zinfandel, but also an intriguing variety of other varietals.
To sample the new boom, head to tiny Plymouth for surprisingly trendy tasting rooms and sleek restaurants like Taste—a magnet for savvy foodies.
The region’s Shenandoah Valley, which straddles Amador and El Dorado counties, is another great place to experience the influx of new mixed with the old. Follow oak-shaded country roads past weathered barns and fences, then drive around a corner to come face to face with urban-edge chic at Andis Winery. Still, there remains a down-home sensibility in this neck of California, with most Gold Country wineries being family-owned, with the winemaker also being the one who pours you wine in the tasting room.