Elizabeth-Rose Madalou is one of three certified Advanced Sommeliers in the Sacramento area, which means a lot to her as someone raised in California's capital city. After years of working in restaurants around Sacramento, she opened her own company with husband Chef Deneb Williams and is now co-owner and beverage director of three restaurants and wine bars in the area—the lively neighborhood joint Woodlake Tavern, fast-casual spot Uptown Pizza Kitchen, and the newest, an Italian seafood restaurant and wine bar, Allora. "I am so very proud of Sacramento and how we are growing and truly finding our culture," Madalou says. She offers these five wine destinations to visit while in the growing city.
"Craig Haarmeyer is a local wine-making hero, truly showing—in his words—'Sacramento terroir.' He makes everything from Mataro (Mourvedre), Chenin Blanc, Riesling, and Syrah,” Madalou says. “The wines are absolutely delicious and are available at Sacramento restaurants and retailers such as Empress Tavern, The Waterboy, and Corti Bros. There is a long list of restaurants and retailers on their website, which also includes [three-Michelin-star restaurants] Single Thread Farms and Atelier Crenn—which, by the way, is a huge deal as those are some of the most prized restaurants in the world."
"The Grand is located at 1600 L Street in the heart of downtown. It is a cozy bar that predominantly celebrates French wines, but you can certainly find a bit of everything there,” she says. “It is a corner lot space with ample views of the hustle and bustle of the growing city. It is certainly a fun list with plenty to try, or you can grab a German beer or classic cocktail."
"If you aren’t from Sacramento, you may not know this jewel on J Street,” Madalou says. “The cuisine is Spanish tapas and world cuisine and the wine list surely celebrates Spanish wine. It’s full of surprises and plentiful options, and you can definitely find some serious gems at beyond fair pricing. This is a sommelier hangout because of the balance between approachable and recognizable wines to esoteric selections for the biggest of nerds. A true gem!"
"I am very proud of what we have been able to do at Allora with our menu and wine list,” she says. “The menu is a modern twist on Italian techniques and flavors and the wine list focuses on Italian, Greek, and other countries of the Mediterranean and eastern Europe. I also celebrate 'new world' expressions of Italian varieties, local Primitivo from the foothills or Barbera from Amador. We have over 300 selections of both international grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, to autochthonous varieties like Nebbiolo and Garganega. We have won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and have many sommeliers on staff working in the dining room every night. Located in East Sacramento, we are off the beaten path for those who don’t want the crowds of the downtown commuters."
"This winery is all about Cal-Ital wines!” Madalou says. “Sacramento and its environs resembles the climate of Italy in many ways, and a skilled grower can nurture some incredible fruit. They source from predominantly the Sierra Foothills. While the fruit is not sourced from Sacramento proper, the wines are made locally. Power and structure define the wines of Due Vigne. Their tasting room is located in the historic Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg."