You may or may not know how significant the Zinfandel varietal is in Amador County, but with this month being Zinfandel month for Scott Harvey Wines, Scott took some time to elaborate on the various plantings and noteworthy events of this grape in our region. Enjoy Scott’s account of the history of how Zinfandel came to be celebrated in this part of California, and how he became involved in working with the grape.
Zinfandel first came to Amador County during the California Gold Rush. Gold was found in the Sierra Foothills in 1848, and soon the California Gold Rush of 1849 was attracting large numbers of people from all around the world to the Sierra Nevada and what would later become Amador County. These gold miners brought a thirst with them, and soon some of them began to plant vineyards on their mining claims. Incredibly, our Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel is a vineyard that still produces wine from this period.
The vineyard was planted on the Upton gold mining claim and was developed by Mahala Upton, a widow with six children. Not only is this vineyard still making wonderful wine, but many of her descendants are still farming in the Shenandoah Valley of Amador County today.
From 1920 until the end of 1933, Prohibition took its toll on Amador County’s commercial winery production with only one winery surviving. The rest of the grape growers, including my grandfather, moved to selling grapes to the home winemaking market. They sold grapes to what we called “Jobbers”. These were people that bought grapes in wooden grape boxes and sent them east on railroad cars to the markets in Chicago and New York. In fact, some of the great wine family names you know of today started out this way. The Gallo brothers, Ernest and Julio Gallo, were both born in Amador County. Robert
Mondavi, originally from an Italian mining community from the iron ranges of Minnesota, was sent to California to secure grapes during Prohibition.
Grape acreage in Amador County increased during Prohibition because the terroir in this county produces grapes at higher sugar levels while maintaining great acidity. Since home winemakers don’t use SO2 (sulfur dioxide), the naturally higher alcohol levels from the Amador Zinfandel would make the wine last longer, or as the home winemakers put it, “the wine was less likely to go sour.”
During and after Prohibition, Zinfandel growers of Amador county continued to sell their grapes to home winemakers. However, things were soon to change because of a Sacramento college teacher by the name of Charles Myers.
As an accomplished home winemaker in the early 1960s, Charles was lamenting to one of his classes about the high cost of grapes in Napa Valley. A student-directed him to her cousins in Shenandoah Valley who grew Prohibition-era Zinfandel vineyards, and the rest is history. The high quality of Charles’ Amador county Deaver Vineyard Zinfandels got people like Sacramento wine merchant, Darrel Corti, and Napa Valley’s Trinchero family to invest in Amador County Zinfandel and promote it. From there, Corti convinced a man named Cary Gott to build a substantial winery in 1973. In 1974, I went to work for Cary Gott at Montevina Winery as an apprentice. Ever since I have been making and promoting Zinfandel from Amador County, going on 46 years now.
Cheers to Zinfandel month and this incredible grape we’re proud to produce for you each year. If you’re local, stop in and try our classic Amador County wines - we’re open daily from 11am-5pm!
- Scott Harvey, Winemaker
Brian Overhauser, Estate Chef
I love the saying, “a magnum bottle of wine is the perfect size for two people if one of them isn’t drinking.” While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, it’s true that magnum bottles are excellent choices for enjoying wine as a group. As the holiday season is full of group dinners, parties, and get-togethers, it’s the perfect time to dive into the wonderful world of wine magnums.
Though it seems like a leap to upgrade from the standard 750ml bottle, it really isn’t. At 1.5 liters, a magnum is the equivalent of two standard wine bottles. Given each standard bottle contains five glasses of wine, it isn’t extravagant to suggest a magnum for a table of four dinner guests – that only works out to two and a half glasses of wine per person. There are so many flavor benefits as well.
So, don’t hesitate to put some older vintage, large format bottles on your holiday table this year! Our 2012 Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel 1.5L bottle, produced in the Old World style, has a beautiful balance of fruit, French oak, structural tannins, and medium alcohol. This makes for a perfect option to pair with all of the typical Thanksgiving fixings.
Mollie Haycock, Assistant Winemaker
I like to start holiday meals and parties with sparkling wine, such as our Jana Blanc de Blanc. It may seem predictable, but it’s such a festive way to begin any event. To me, sparkling pairs well with so many things - especially lighter appetizers. Holiday meals for us tend to be filled with heavy foods and lots of flavors, so starting with something light is a nice balance.
We usually start with a cheese and charcuterie board with dried fruits, jams, mustards, and local honey. Sparkling pairs great with anything you might include in a platter, and each of the items enhances something different in the wine. The natural acidity in the Jana Blanc de Blanc pairs beautifully with both soft, creamy cheese and bold, hard cheese.
Clinton Harders, Tasting Room Lead, Sutter Creek
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season can be expressed by a simple word: fondue. My family does our big turkey meal around lunchtime on Thanksgiving day. By the time the day ends, everyone can go for something to eat, but no one really wants to cook again. So, the day before Thanksgiving, I prepare a large batch of fondue and have it ready to heat for Thanksgiving evening.
With a touch of a button and a little time, we’re ready to dip everything from sausage to apples in the cheesy goodness! And, a very important ingredient in traditional fondue is a white wine. The 2018 Jana Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for this. It only requires one-third of a cup, and that leaves the rest for drinking!
Christmas Eve is all about chocolate fondue. With lots of tasty morsels to dip in chocolate, we pair this with a splash of 2011 Forte Port as a nightcap after a day of wrapping way too many presents!
However you enjoy your favorite Scott Harvey wines, we hope you have a beautiful holiday season with good health, laughter, and lots of delicious wine and food offerings! Cheers!
There are many common misconceptions about wine that often become unquestioned beliefs. We’re getting to the bottom of five of these fallacies once and for all and addressing some of the most common myths we’ve heard in our 40+ years in the wine industry.
The myth: White wine should be served ice cold
The truth: You may have heard the idea that red wine should be served at room temperature while white wine should be served ice cold. In reality, you'll achieve the best results if both red and white wines are served in between nearly ice cold and room temperature.
If white wine is served too cold, you won't be able to taste the nuances in its flavor. If red wine is served too close to room temperature, it could taste flat. So, when it doubt, chill your wine but ensure it’s not too cold. The proper serving temperatures are 49-55°F for white wine and 62-68°F for red wine.
The myth: Sweet wines are for beginners, not educated palates
The truth: Some of the greatest wines in the world are sweet. Sauternes, Ice Wines, Trockenbeerenauslese (a German wine classification for a rich, full-bodied style of sweet dessert wine) are sweet, but are also immensely flavorful and very age-worthy.
For example, our Angel Eis Ice Wine is a beautiful example of this style of wine. Grown in Mendocino County, this 36-year-old Riesling vineyard produces small yields of flavorful grapes of this varietal. To create this wine, frozen grapes were pressed and fermented slowly for two months. This well-balanced dessert wine with hints of peaches, pears, and apricots boasts a long, lingering finish that’s a beautiful sunny day sipper, or pairs perfectly with blue cheese and your favorite crostini.
The myth: All wines worth cellaring are red
The truth: Older wines deliver a different spectrum of flavors from what you would taste in a young wine. Tannins keep wine fresh, which is why red wines that age well tend to contain greater amounts of tannins.
However, the sugar found in white wines helps to preserve the wine and prevent deterioration. Therefore, the sweeter the white wine, the better it will age which is why dessert wines (such as our Angel Eis mentioned above), a Riesling, such as our Jana Riesling, vintage Champagne, Sauternes, and even some dry white wines are just as age-worthy as reds.
In addition to high tannins and sweetness, white wines with a higher acidity level are more likely to last longer because low pH levels prevent any chemical changes that would otherwise break down the wine.
The myth: White wine does not contain sulfites
The truth: One of the most common things we hear in the tasting room is that an individual only drinks white wine because they’re allergic to sulfites. In reality, white wines actually contain more added sulfur dioxide than reds. Sulfites occur naturally during the fermentation process, so all wines — red, white, and rosé — contain some level of sulfites.
That being said, the amount of sulfites in any bottle of wine is actually quite small. In fact, more sulfites exist in common foods like eggs, raisins, cured meats and cheese, and even ketchup. So, if you don’t have any major sensitivities to these items, you’ll likely be able to consume all of our wines just fine!
Myth: Screw-top wines are inferior to corked wines
The truth: In many years leading up to the present day, screw cap wines were a symbol of a cheaper bottle of wine. But, times are changing and these days, winemakers (including Scott) have come around to the benefits of these once-scorned metal closures. Why, you ask? While cork may be traditional, it can come with its share of headaches including a risk of contamination with trichloroanisole (TCA), also known as cork taint, which is a chemical compound that can leave the wine with a damp, musty smell or mask its flavors all together.
We hope we’ve helped to ease your mind by debunking these wine myths, and leave you feeling more confident with your wine knowledge so you can share with your friends!
For the last two days while in the apex of harvest PG&E elected to cut power to the whole Shenandoah Valley and Fiddletown wine appellations of Amador County. They also cut power to Napa Valley and Sonoma as well. We produce wine at three different wineries that are located in Amador County, Napa Valley, and Clarksburg. They say it is due to high wind danger. I’m not sure about the rest of the wine-growing regions in northern California, but in Amador County, there has been no wind event to speak of. I would think that PG&E would have the ability to turn on and off different areas depending on the danger in each.
This will cost our winery in revenue and potential wine quality and will probably cost the Northern California wine industry millions of dollars.
There needs to be some better answers to this problem than just shutting off the power to all of northern California’s wine regions. Otherwise, I can see the lawsuits flying at PG&E at a time they can hardly afford any more lawsuits. The other answer is to put in a permanent high-powered generator for such occasions. Probably at a cost of $20,000 or more.
CEO and Winemaker
Each of our wine labels was carefully and thoughtfully designed, but there are four in particular that stand out amongst the bunch. From their unique stories to equally noteworthy labels, our Tickle Me Pink Rosé, One Last Kiss Red Blend, InZinerator Zinfandel, and Angel Eis Ice Wine have especially fun histories. These are four colorful stories you won't want to miss!
Tickle Me Pink Rosé
The story of this fan-favorite is rather short and sweet, but very serendipitous. We saw the picture in a gallery in Jerome, Arizona, and Scott was not only instantly attached to it but he loved how fun and different it was.
When a shareholder came up with the name for our new Rosé, we knew we had the perfect label for it. We contacted the artist and purchased the rights - the rest is history!
Just like our Rosé, one of our shareholders came up with the name of this wine. Our nephew, Michael, is a graphic designer and we gave him the task of designing something with a superhero theme.
We originally had three different labels of superheroes to choose from, but retailers weren’t quite ready for the comic book-look so we tamed it to the unmistakable “Z”. Fun fact: the state of North Carolina actually outlawed the label because they thought we were trying to sell wine to children!
We were ultimately looking to appeal to millennials, but this wine quickly became a favorite of Scott Harvey fans of all ages.
Angel Eis Ice Wine
Our nephew, Michael, once again had a hand in creating the design for this bottle. He was also the inspiration behind the name because when he sent us his various design ideas, he would provide a title for each one. This particular draft he named “Angel Ice” and we thought the name was perfect.
The first couple of vintages were named Angel Ice, but the Tax and Trade Bureau didn’t approve this name because it wasn’t a true Ice Wine. Scott then changed “Ice” to the German word, “eis”, and it was approved.
The beautiful blue/green color of the bottle is one Scott has always used for his dessert wines, so he kept true to that trend with this wine as well.
One Last Kiss Red Blend
We originally wanted to call this wine “Kiss” but because the band Kiss already has rights to it (fun fact: the band actually sent us a letter about it!), we were ultimately unable to use this moniker.
Scott then wanted to call it “One More Kiss”, but Jana thought “One Last Kiss” was more romantic. Many people felt it sounded a bit sad as being the “Last Kiss”, so we recently updated it to “Just One Last Kiss” so it didn’t sound so final.
The label design was inspired by a group of women that visited us every year from Arizona. When they came one year, Scott planned to have poster boards set up with red lipsticks and had everyone kiss the board. Even their bus driver got into it! Their lips are what you see on this label.
Naming and creating the design of our labels is easily one of the most fun parts of the process, but it’s also equally important to ensure they stand out amongst the countless other options out there in the wine world. We hope we’ve inspired you to share these stories with friends and family the next time you’re sipping on any of your Scott Harvey favorites!
- Jana Harvey
Harvest is upon us! It’s the time of year when your favorite Scott Harvey varietals are being plucked from their vines and crafted into the wines you know and love. This will be Scott’s 46th harvest (we still can’t believe it!) and he hasn’t missed one since 1974.
The exact steps in the harvesting process will vary in time, technique, and technology based on the grape, but, for the most part, each harvest includes the same basic vine-to-wine steps. Curious how this process works? We’re doing a deep-dive into how your Scott Harvey favorites are made.
The grapes have now been through veraison, and it’s time to pick! This year’s vintage will produce some big differences from region to region within our state. Having started with a wet winter, we’ve had plenty of moisture in the ground to develop and grow a healthy crop.
Grapes that flowered early, like in the Central and Napa valleys, are ideal in size and have had a successful growing season. Areas that budded late, such as the high elevation regions in Amador County or Lake County, were caught flowering in unfavorable conditions (such as rain or hail)and many of the flowers did not germinate. This gives us what we call “shot berry”, which means these vineyards will produce less than normal. However, the good news is that the resulting wine tends to be more flavorful and extractive.
When it’s time to pick, the grapes are either cut from the vine by hand or picked by machine, depending on the winery. We prefer the grapes to be hand-harvested at night – when they are picked at a temperature that is too warm, the crushing process develops unwanted bitter components and phenolics in the wine. If we receive grapes picked under hot conditions during the day, they are placed in our air-conditioned winery overnight and crushed the next day when they’re cold. Hand harvesting is more labor-intensive, but can offer superior results. At this point in the process, the grapes are still intact with their stems. These will all be removed in the next step.
No matter how or when the grapes were picked, they all get crushed in some fashion at this step. The de-stemmer, which is a piece of winemaking machinery that does exactly what it says - removes the stems from the clusters and lightly crushes the grapes.
For white wines, once crushed, the white grapes are transferred straight into a press. All of the grapes are pressed to extract the juice and leave behind the grape skins. The pure juice is then transferred into tanks where sediment settles to the bottom of the tank. After a settling period, the juice is then “racked”, which means it’s filtered out of the settling tank into another to ensure all the sediment is gone before fermentation starts.
Similarly, with red wines, the grapes are de-stemmed and lightly crushed. The difference is that these grapes, along with their skins, go straight into a vat to start fermentation on their skins. This is what imparts the red color into red wine; otherwise, red grapes would simply be some form of Rosé wine.
The sooner the clusters are de-stemmed, the less tannic the wine will be. Some winemakers want little-to-no influence of stems, while others feel that some or all stems in the fermentation fill out the wine’s texture and flavor.
Simply put, fermentation is where the sugar converts into alcohol. To break it down this stage mainly includes:
As a Winemaker, Scott has many choices at this step but it ultimately depends on the kind of wine he wants to create. Flavors in wine can become more intense due to several of these winemaking choices:
- Aging for several years vs. several months
- Aging in stainless steel vs. oak
- Aging in new oak vs. ‘neutral’ or used barrels
- Aging in American oak barrels vs. French oak barrels
- Aging in various levels of ‘toasted’ barrels (i.e. charred by fire)
When wines are young we taste their primary flavors, like grassiness in Sauvignon Blanc or citrus in Riesling. We may also notice some secondary notes associated with winemaking techniques, like the vanilla flavor from an oak barrel or buttery nuances from malolactic fermentation.
When wines age, we start getting into tertiary notes or flavors that come from development. This could mean young, bold hints of fresh fruit that become gradually more subdued and reminiscent of dried fruit. Other flavors, previously hidden by bold primary notes, come to the forefront such as honey, herbal notes, hay, mushroom, stone, and earth. While the proportion of alcohol, acids, and sugars stay the same, the flavors continue to change over time – which is so fun to watch!
When Scott feels the wine has reached its full expression in aging, it’s time to bottle the wine for consumption. We tend to age our wines for 18 to 23 months in once or twice used French oak barrels with medium toast. Once the aging process is complete, we make them available to you!
It’s important to remember, though, that wine is a living thing and changes with time in the bottle. Depending on the wine, it can take years to decades for the molecular structure to change. That being said, 99% of the world’s wine does not need cellaring andare actually at their peak the day they are released.
Whether you decide to enjoy your Scott Harvey wines the day you purchase or a few months or years down the line, there’s no doubt they will be wonderfully expressive, well-balanced, and enjoyable no matter the occasion. Curious about the varietals we craft, or want to pick up some of your favorites? Take a look at our wine portfolio!
From phenomenal memoirs and comedic fiction novels to compelling murder mysteries, if you find fascination in all aspects of wine and food like we do, we have the best summer reads to keep you entertained through the sweltering weather. Sit back and relax with a glass of your preferred Scott Harvey Wine and immerse yourself in one of our five favorite summer reads for wine lovers.
1. The Winemaker by Richard G. Peterson
Winner of the “2016 Best in The World” wine book by Gourmand, Richard Peterson’s memoir is an inside look into the development of the California wine industry from family-owned wineries to the corporate world of winemaking. A key player in the wine industry, Richard was pivotal in the success of many top wineries in Napa. In 1996, our very own Scott Harvey met the renowned Winemaker at Folie à Deux when Scott was recruited as Partner, Winemaker & President for the newly purchased winery. Combining forces, Scott and Richard developed award-winning wines for Folie à Deux.
Richard also invented several wine techniques still in use today, including the “no topping, bung-and-roll” red wine barrel aging practice. He’s also the original designer of the steel barrel pallet, which allows wine barrels to be handled mechanically. This novel will give you greater insight and appreciation into the history of the California wine industry and how it’s developed into one of the best wine industries of the world.
2. Bottled Poetry by James T. Lapsley
California's Napa Valley is one of the world's premier wine regions today, but this has not always been true. James Lapsley's entertaining history explains how a collective vision of excellence among winemakers and a keen sense of promotion transformed the region and its wines following the repeal of Prohibition. Focusing primarily on the formative years of Napa's fine winemaking, 1934 to 1967, Lapsley then concludes with a chapter on the wine boom of the 1970s, placing it in a social context and explaining the role of Napa vineyards in the beverage's growing popularity.
Names familiar to wine drinkers can be noted throughout these pages—Beaulieu, Beringer, Charles Krug, Louis Martini, Inglenook—and the colorful stories behind the names give this book a personal dimension. These strong-willed, competitive winemakers found ways to work cooperatively, both in sharing knowledge and technology. The result was an unprecedented improvement in wine quality that brought with it a new reputation for the Napa Valley. This book along with Richard G. Peterson’s book, mentioned above, gives you a good feeling for the post-prohibition wine industry.
3. The Secrets of My Life (Vintner, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy) by Peter M.F. Sichel
Another phenomenal memoir is Peter M.F. Sichel’s The Secrets of My Life. Peter dives into how he survived and escaped Nazi Germany to fight against the Axis and became the first head of what would become the CIA.
After his time at the CIA, he took over the family wine business and put the ancient Margaux property, Chateau d'Angludet, on the Bordeaux wine map. He later took the Blue Nun wine brand to the top of the sales tree in the 1980s. With such a diverse and remarkable life story, his unique autobiography keeps us hooked!
4. Corkscrew by Peter Stafford-Bow
If you’re looking for a fun - albeit provocative - book involving wine, this one is for you. You’ll learn about obscure wine varietals while following the hilariously improbable, but occasionally true tale of Felix, a professional wine buyer.
Orphan Felix Hart is expelled from school, cast onto the British high street, and forced to make his way in the cut-throat world of wine retailing. He soon forges a promising career as his adventures take him to the vineyards of Italy, South Africa, Bulgaria, and Kent. However, his path to the top is littered with obstacles. Office politics, unhinged managers, and the British Board of Wine & Liquor prove to be his largest challenges. But, when Felix negotiates the world's biggest Asti Spumante deal, he bites off more than he can chew and is plunged into a terrifying world of the mafia, smuggling, and ruthless multinationals. This slightly risqué, satirical novel set in the world of wine and big business has been deemed “part thriller, part self-help manual, and part drinking companion.” This isn’t your average wine book, but well worth a read if you enjoy this genre.
5. Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside by Martin Walker
Bruno, Chief of Police is the first installment in Martin Walker’s internationally acclaimed murder mystery series. The series follows a young bachelor and Police Chief in a small town in the Dordogne region of Bordeaux, France. The series perfectly balances wonderful sensory descriptions of the town, gourmet foods, and wines with the intricacies of daily life as a policeman.
Bruno is a former soldier who has embraces the pleasures and slower way of country life. When the murder of an elderly North African who fought in the French army changes the rhythm of this lifestyle, Bruno must balance his beloved routines—living in his restored shepherd’s cottage, shopping at the local market, drinking wine, strolling the countryside—with a politically delicate investigation. “This novel is as tasty as a slice of Bruno’s local foie gras, topped with a glass of his homemade vin de noix,” says David Ignatius, author of Body of Lies. We couldn’t agree more!
No matter the genre you prefer, make sure you’re stocked up on your favorite Scott Harvey wine to sip while you read! We have a wine for every style of story. Cheers!
One of the great things about wine is its versatility. There are countless varietals to choose from, all easily enjoyable in a range of settings. And since we thoroughly enjoy the outdoors here at Scott Harvey Wines, particularly during the summer months, we’re sharing our favorite ways to sip on your favorite wines all season long. So whether you’re more of a “beach bum”, prefer a day on the river or a weekend in the mountains, our wide variety of wines are the perfect complement to any day trip or vacation you plan this summer. Want to see why? Read on!
1. The Beach
Our Amador County winery might not be particularly close to the shore, but it’s one of our favorite places to visit! Amador County can be sweltering during the summer months, and there’s nothing like a beautiful day at the beach to get a breath of fresh ocean air.
While lighter whites and Rosés like our 2018 Jana Sauvignon Blanc or Tickle Me Pink are perfect for hot beach days, sometimes it gets a little breezy and chilly (at least at our Northern California beaches!).
Because of that, we love to bring along our 2016 J&S Reserve Syrah. Aromas of raspberry, pepper, and cherry and bright, spicy flavors make this a feel-good wine to walk along the beach with loved ones.
2. The River
Moving more inland but still savoring the water, a favorite pastime of ours is going to the river to relax, enjoy a meal, and cool of by canoeing or floating down. The comradery of spending time with friends and family is one of the most heartwarming parts of summer, and you can’t beat our Barberas to continue the fun in the sun!
Our 2018 Rosé of Barbera is dry in style and packed with a well-rounded mouthfeel, while our 2016 J&S Reserve Barbera is a fruit-forward wine that boasts rich, full flavors that express both the varietal and the Amador County terroir. Both wines have the potential to pair beautifully with any picnic you pack. Or, simply sip on them while you soak up the sun!
3. The Mountains
Our final favorite location to enjoy Scott’s wines is in a mountain setting, and we love our 2016 Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel anytime we head to the hills. With flavors of blackberry, fig, and violets and hints of coffee with bright currants on the nose, the old vine complexity of this wine is unmistakable and absolutely delicious.
Whether you’re sipping it in the still of the afternoon amongst the trees, on a boat on the lake, or in a group around the dinner table or a campfire, we love how this wine has the power to bring people together in even the most remote settings.
We love this idea so much, in fact, that for the second year in a row we’re thrilled to host our Wine Club Weekend Glamping Trip! If you’re a wine club member, join us as we escape the city lights and leave the noise at home. Let the beautiful scenery of the Sierra Buttes be the backdrop of a beautiful weekend with friends.
From Friday, August 23rd at 2pm through Sunday, August 25th, “glamp” in style with incredible wine and food pairings at the Lakes Basin Recreation Area at the Gold Lake Beach Resort. Pack your suitcase and hiking shoes and leave the rest to us! Enjoy group hikes during the day and wine and food pairings at night prepared by our Estate Chef, Brian Overhauser.
For more information, click here, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at (209) 267-0122 and ask for Melissa.
Whether you prefer the beach, are more of a casual river dweller or enjoy the serenity of the mountains, our wines are ready to go whenever and wherever you are. Happy summer, Scott Harvey fans!
Are you in need of a vacation? Or, a “staycation” for those that are local? For some people, Amador County would be considered “off the beaten path”. While many don’t know the extensive and fascinating history behind the county, for us, it’s home. In the time we’ve had the privilege of living in Amador we’ve stumbled across many things we love to enjoy as a couple, or with friends and family when they visit. With that, we’ve put together our top five favorite Amador County hidden gems we hope you can someday enjoy.
1. The Amador City Loop
We begin our day in the city of Amador where we love starting our day at Andrae's Bakery for coffee and a sweet or savory breakfast snack. Once we have our coffee fix, we venture up the main road along the creek for a pleasant walk along the brook. After our stroll, we return downtown via Stringbean Alley which is a comfortable, flat concrete walking path. On your way back into the main part of town, you pass the Sutter Creek Gold Mine which is a fascinating piece of history.
You read that right - Volcano! But, it’s not an active one, or even a volcano for that matter. Volcano is actually a town in Amador County. Settled in 1849, the town is named for its setting in a bowl-shaped valley which early miners thought was caused by a volcano. The early morning fog rising from the valley floor only reinforced that belief. If you take a stroll around town, you’ll feel as though you’ve transported into a different era. If you visit the old grocery store, you’ll find items that you haven’t seen in years, if ever. There’s also a charming community theater that was established in 1854 and is continued through the efforts of the Volcano Theater Company. Watching a play at the 50-seat Cobblestone theater is an absolute treat. Finally, you can curb your appetite with a savory lunch or dinner at the Union Inn + Pub.
3. Black Chasm Cavern
This is a place we always love to take new visitors. While Black Chasm Cavern was likely known by the local Miwok people who inhabited this area long before the Gold Rush, the first documented exploration of these caverns occurred in 1854 when a group of explorers braved the unknown to discover the phenomenal beauty that exists below the surface. Simple tours were held at the Black Chasm in those early days, barely penetrating the cavern system that we know today. The tours we venture on nowadays are always interesting and entertaining, and usually given by a member of the family that owns it. We find it fun to use your imagination with the shapes of the stalagmites and stalactites, while in the main part of the cavern opens up for a splendid experience overall.
4. Hikes at Carson Pass
Carson Pass is a mountain pass on the crest of the central Sierra Nevada in the El Dorado National Forest. The historic pass was a point on the Carson Trail during the Gold Rush and was used for American Civil War shipping to California until the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. In addition to the extensive history, the hikes at Carson Pass boast some of the most gorgeous wildflowers we’ve seen in California. These trails are best around mid-summer after the snow melts, and this year should be even more beautiful with all of the rain we had over the winter! Carson Pass is a great place to partake in a variety of activities, from day hikes and backpacking to practicing your photography skills.
5. Lake Tabeaud
We don’t see a lot of water in Amador County except for the many creeks, which is why it’s such a pleasure to walk around Lake Tabeaud. This lake is a great place for walkers, joggers, canoers, kayakers, and those who like to fish. This setting is also an ideal quiet place for picnicking and bird-watching. You can enjoy a walk or fishing on the banks in this peaceful setting with shade from the surrounding oaks. While there are no motor boats, swimming, or overnight camping allowed, these trails are open year-round. We love to take a walk around this lake in an easy-to-moderate 2.5-mile loop.
While it’s easy to search “top places to visit” online for any given place, we hope this local’s perspective of Amador County will take you a bit further out of your comfort zone and into our world here at Scott Harvey Wines.
If you choose to visit or partake in any of these activities, we hope you also find some time to stop by one of our two tasting room locations in either Plymouth or Sutter Creek to round off your Amador County experience!
- Scott & Jana
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