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Discover a classic Gold Country town on the edge of an outstanding wine region

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While the historic towns along Highway 49 are synonymous with gold, Plymouth is more about reds and whites. The gateway to the Shenandoah Valley in the Amador County wine country, this tiny town of fewer than 1,000 residents is a terrific destination for wine lovers as well as anyone looking for a Gold Country escape.

Plymouth Wine Scene 

Plymouth’s gold mining history began in 1870, but decades before that discovery, farmers started growing wine grapes in the area. In fact, Plymouth is home to the county’s oldest plantings of Zinfandel grapes. The Amador 360 Winery Collective tasting room is a great introduction to the region. Here, all under one roof, you’ll find a big selection of boutique and hard-to-find wines from leading Amador County vintners. The collective’s owners, Brian Miller and Deirdre Mueller, can also help introduce you to the area’s rich wine scene.

The region’s varied soils and daily temperature swings of around 30–35 degrees create ideal conditions for balanced and complex wines. So in addition to its famed Zinfandels, the Shenandoah Valley has gained renown for such varietals as Barbera, Aglianico, and Sangiovese.

History and striking contemporary architecture come together at Andis Wines, home to a rare find: wines produced from old-vine grapes grown in the country’s oldest documented Zinfandel vineyard. Like Andis, Iron Hub Winery is notable for its tasting room’s modern design, which looks out to the Sierra Nevada. It’s one of eight wineries on the Start on Steiner wine trail, the first of its kind in Amador County.

Helwig Winery, which produces a popular concert series, is also known for estate-produced olive oils and outstanding Rosés. The strikingly modern buildings form the letter “H,” and you can pair burgers, including vegetarian options, from the winery’s kitchen with Helwig’s premium wines. Karmère Vineyards and Winery is in a more traditional French chateau–style structure. The outdoor pavilion is an ideal place to sip the winery’s renowned Zinfandel, Syrah, and Barbera—and the medieval-inspired portraits on the labels are positively striking. More rustic in atmosphere is Jeff Runquist Wines, where the balanced, single-vineyard red varietals earned the operation 2021 Winery of the Year honors in the prestigious Dan Berger’s International Wine and Cider Competition.

Agricultural Adventures in Plymouth

In July, the Amador County Fair takes place at Plymouth’s Amador County Fairgrounds. It’s a classic event, just what you would expect in a county with such strong agricultural traditions. Come for the livestock exhibition, a rodeo queen contest, and horse shows, as well as a demolition derby, concerts, and folklorico dance performances.

Not only do grapes love the area, so do flowers. Head over to the Amador Flower Farm, which raises a remarkable 1,200 varieties of day lilies on its 14 acres. For a taste of Plymouth’s summer bounty, visit the Plymouth Farmers’ Market (August through September), and shop for local olive oils, flowers, and the freshest of fruits and vegetables.

Where to Eat in Plymouth

With an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients in its New American specialties, Taste Restaurant and Wine Bar strikes the perfect balance between fine dining and Plymouth’s relaxed atmosphere. Not surprisingly, the wine list is terrific, with a big selection of Amador County wines. Another worthy stop, the Plymouth Hotel, isn’t actually a hotel—although it once was. This restaurant in a historic building is a place to gather with friends for craft cocktails and thin-crust, woodfired pizzas, as well as delicious lumpia and street tacos.

Every small town needs a great breakfast joint and in Plymouth, Marlene & Glen’s Diner is where locals come for such country classics as chicken-fried steak and biscuits and gravy.

There’s also a beer scene in and around Plymouth. Just down the road in Drytown, the Tin Roof Wine Café carries a nice selection of local craft beers to go along with its cheese boards, flatbreads, and other light eats. And at the Amador Brewing Company’s Plymouth taproom, you’ll find a selection that ranges from innovative takes on IPAs to a Belgian wheat ale infused with lime and chipotle chile.

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