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
We couldn’t resist the opportunity to embrace Earth Day and do a deep-dive into our spectacular vineyards. They are, after all, what gives our grapes the characteristics that shine in our wines - each wonderfully unique in their own right.
While Scott Harvey Wines is based in Amador County, we source some of our grapes from a few other highly sought after vineyards around Northern California. Because we’re in the midst of spring, it’s the perfect opportunity to hone in on some of this season’s favorites. Let’s start off close to home with our Rosé vineyards.
Hailing from our very own Amador County where Scott has been making wine for over 45 years, our Rosé of Barbera is long-time Scott and Jana Harvey fan-favorite.
Shenandoah Valley is an American viticultural area (AVA) in the heart of California's once-thriving gold-mining country. Although Zinfandel reigns supreme here (check out our red wines!), the region also produces high-quality Italian favorites like Sangiovese and Barbera.
This Barbera vineyard used for our Rosé of Barbera sits on a hilltop overlooking the entire Shenandoah Valley. These flavorful Barbera grapes are harvested early to produce this light, crisp, and dry Rosé. It is produced in the “Halbtrocken Kabinett”
style, which is the lightest style of Riesling done half-dry (or slightly sweet). Scott loved producing this style of wine while he went to winemaking school and worked in Germany many years ago.
In Amador, hot, sunny days turn to cool evenings bringing breezes that blow down from the Sierra Nevada. This drop in temperature allows the grapes time to close down their ripening processes overnight, retaining the acidity required to create balanced wines. The refreshing breezes are also essential for ventilating the vineyards and keeping fungal diseases at bay.
The most noteworthy soils in Amador are of iron-rich decomposed granite. They’re often laced with sandy clay loam, enabling them to retain water and stay hydrated despite the county’s limited rainfall. These are ideal conditions for cultivating high-quality grapes as the vines are forced to grow deep, strong root systems.
Moving farther out west toward well-known Napa Valley, we then take a right and head north toward Lake County. Lake County is home to our Sauvignon Blanc vineyards, and one of the most interesting aspects of this county is that ancient volcanoes have provided much of its terroir. Ridges and hills throughout the county have been formed by ancient lava flows, and vineyards are planted on hillsides with a variety of different slopes to take advantage of the prevailing weather patterns.
We source the grapes for our Sauvignon Blanc from the Olden vineyard, which is located on the northern shore of Clear Lake. The vineyards are located against a large pear orchard and these sandy, alluvial soils drain well to produce our wonderfully flavorful Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is made to be fresh and crisp to preserve the wines ability to tell the story of the vineyard it comes from, and the varietal character.
Gravel, sand, and even pockets of heat-retaining obsidian can be found in the areas near Clear Lake, while the lack of water in the ground leads to small berries with great concentration of flavor.
Lake County lies in the rain shadow of the Mayacama mountains, and the region is generally warm and dry. The Olden vineyard experiences afternoon breezes which help to cool the grapes and extend the growing season. These warm days are followed by colder nights, ensuring berries have a slower ripening period during which they can develop varietal character without sacrificing acidity.
Our final stop is northwest of Lake County at the northern limit of California's quality wine-growing regions.
Scott’s favorite white wine to make is our Old Vine Riesling, and Mendocino County was the perfect place to venture to for these grapes. Nelson Ranch, where these grapes are sourced from, is the perfect vineyard for our Riesling because of the area’s cooler climate. This climate allows the grapes to ripen slowly to preserve that beautiful, well-rounded varietal character.
The Mendocino region is divided into two distinct climatic zones by the Mendocino Range, one of several mountain ranges which make up the Pacific Coast Ranges. Unusually for California, some vineyards lean toward the inland areas rather than the coast. Inland, it is significantly warmer and drier and vines are sheltered from the cooling effects of the Pacific Ocean.
We consider each of our wines to be a reflection of the complex terroir and growing conditions of the AVAs they come from. It’s always incredible to see how these factors affect the characteristics of wines, and how these can change so drastically from year to year. While Mother Nature can certainly be unpredictable at times, we’re especially thankful for these vineyards and everything they endure to provide us our grapes each year. We hope you have the opportunity to step outside and enjoy this beautiful planet today - Happy Earth Day!
One of Scott’s goals has always been to make food-friendly wines that are approachable, easy to drink, and shareable amongst friends. If this doesn’t perfectly describe St. Patrick’s Day tradition - we don’t know what does!
In the spirit of this festive holiday, we’ve picked three of our beautiful wines to pair with three traditional St. Patrick’s Day recipes. Enjoy!
What some may not know about corned beef is that it originated during the days when refrigeration didn’t exist, and foods were likely pickled or cured to preserve them. Corned beef, which is traditionally made from the brisket cut, is either pickled or cured using a super-seasoned brine or dry rub, then braised for a few hours to get deliciously tender. Irish American immigrants would splurge on flavorful corned beef which they then accompanied with their famed potatoes and the most affordable vegetable at the time, cabbage. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit about corned beef is that corn, or even peppercorn, isn’t actually an ingredient. “Corned” refers to the large salt crystals that were traditionally used during the preservation process.
With that quick history lesson behind us, let’s talk wine! There are several different directions one could go, but our top pick is a classic Zinfandel. Zin is ideal for pairing with meat and typically has a variety of spice notes that complement the savory spice of the horseradish leaving your tastebuds watering! Our 2014 Mountain Selection Zinfandel is an extremely food-friendly, medium-bodied Zinfandel with a rich mouthfeel. Its rounded complexity provides a long, lingering finish that will leave you wanting more (more wine, and corned beef)!
Shepherd’s Pie has always been a beloved dish for its comforting, filling, stick-to-your-ribs quality. In the U.S. it’s typically known as a rich, beef-based stew with a thick layer of crispy, warm mashed potatoes on top. Back in the 1700s, though, folks in England, Scotland, and Ireland used lamb as the base of the pie. Why? Because Shepherd’s look after sheep! Seems too easy, right? Well, that’s the story! However, regardless of what protein you pick, you’re sure to enjoy this Irish classic.
With a dish such as this, you need a savory wine that’s up to snuff. Syrah is a perfect pick because it typically has peppery, meaty characteristics and those naturally savory flavors you want to complement this hearty meal.
Our 2016 J&S Reserve Syrah - which won double gold at the 2019 S.F. Chronicle Wine Competition - is the perfect pairing. Our Syrah is aged in French oak barrels to develop a well-rounded wine with firmly structured tannins. Aromas of raspberry, pepper, clove, cherry, and sweet, light oak introduce bright, spicy flavors with those firm tannins that carry through the long finish.
All mashed potato fans are bound to love this dish! Colcannon is a traditional Irish and Scottish dish (there’s even a song about it!). The two main ingredients are creamy mashed potatoes and either kale or cabbage, which are typically flavored with butter, milk, and mild seasonings. Other popular additions include green onion or cooked, crumbled bacon.
Arguably the most difficult dish of the bunch to pair with wine, colcannon requires a wine with high acid. The decadence of the butter and cream should be balanced with the wine’s fresh, crisp acidity to help cut through the creamy weightiness of the dish by refreshing your palate between spoonfuls.
Our 2017 Jana Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect complement to colcannon because of its crisp, vegetal flavor profile. This wine is high in acid and full of herbaceous notes, with hints of lemon blossoms, melon, and flavors of fresh lemon bars and pink grapefruit that explode on the palate. It’s a balanced, enjoyable wine that pairs well with food while not overpowering it.
While many people associate traditional Irish foods with beer, wine is an equally acceptable and exciting contender because there are so many fantastic wine pairings to accompany the complexities of each dish. Have a St. Patrick’s Day favorite we didn’t mention? Check out our family of wines here - we have the perfect food-friendly wine for any Irish recipe!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the Scott Harvey Wines family to yours - slàinte!
We’re foodies over here at Scott Harvey Winery, and lucky for us, many of our Wine Club Members share that sentiment! One thing we love about wine is its delectable ability to pair with food. Winemaker Scott Harvey and Estate Chef Brian Overhauser love working together to unlock fantastic food and wine combinations for all to enjoy. Whether they are bites at our monthly 3&3 Wine and Food Pairing events or hearty dishes you can cook at home, like braised wagyu beef short rib or sous vide Alaskan halibut, we love bringing people together at the table. We love that our Club Members appreciate a great pairing when they see one, so we make sure they’re always stocked up with winemaker notes and perfectly paired recipes!
Speaking of great wine and food pairings, we understand wine can be very subjective and that no two palates are alike. Some of our members prefer red wines – especially our big, bold Zins, Syrahs, and Barberas. Others may prefer white wine or Jana’s bubbles, or they’re fans of all of the above and everything in between! With that in mind, we always want to ensure there’s something for everyone. We love sharing a variety of wines with you each year through the customized club options, and that you get as excited for new and old favorites as we do!
Two tasting rooms means double the fun when our Wine Club Members come to visit! We love being able to catch up and share stories with familiar faces while pouring a new release. When our members pop in for their complimentary member tasting or Wine Club pick-up at our Downtown historic Sutter Creek tasting room or our winery in Plymouth, it’s like welcoming old friends in the door. Whether their visit is a quick trip or they stay for an afternoon and bring a picnic, we see it as a great opportunity to get to know each member and bond over our favorite Scott Harvey wines!
Last but far from least, we’re fortunate to host a wide variety of exclusive events and parties throughout the year that bring folks together from all walks of life. Whether it’s a Club Member who comes every year or a guest of a member who is tasting Scott Harvey wines for the first time, every time we come together it feels like a family affair!
We know there are endless Wine Clubs to join out there in the wine world, but we’re extremely grateful to our Club Members for choosing us to support and believe in. To our Wine Club Members who continue to value our mission and enjoy the fruit of our labor year after year - we love you!
If you’re interested in learning more about our Wine Club benefits and joining the Scott Harvey community, click here!
Pinot Noir can be tricky to pair with seafood because it is delicate, but it can also surprise and delight in many facets. Chef Brian developed a deep love of Pinot Noir from his time spent in Burgundy where he was exposed to many fish preparations served with Pinot. Since Pinot Noir is relatively low in tannins, it gives it a good chance to enhance many seafood dishes. The 2012 Jana is one of those Pinot Noirs that has ample acidity and a freshness in its fruit profile allowing it to stand up and sing with this rich and round preparation of Scallops.
Sauté the shallots in a heavy bottom 2-quart saucepan and cook until translucent then add the peppers, tomatoes and clam juice. Cook on medium for 5 minutes, or until it’s reduced by ⅓, then add the cream. With an immersion blender, purée the sauce until combined and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Place the sauce back into the pan and reduce another 5 minutes or until reduced by ½. Salt and pepper to taste.
Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Place with the butter in a heavy zipper lock or vacuum seal bag and seal the bag using the water immersion technique or a vacuum sealer on the moist setting. Place the bag in the water bath set to 180 degrees and set the timer for 6 minutes.
Warm four large, shallow pasta bowls and distribute the sauce evenly between them. Place the poached scallops in the center of the plate and add a pinch of the micro arugula on top of the scallop. Drizzle a little EVOO around the scallops and serve with the 2012 Jana Winery Pinot Noir, Napa Valley.
Andis Wines, Scott Harvey Wines, and Vino Noceto will host a weekend of events to celebrate the 150-year Anniversary of the Original Grandpère Vineyard (OGP), also known as Vineyard 1869. Over the course of two days, guests to Amador County will have a chance to taste, sip, and explore the Zinfandel vineyard heralded as the oldest documented Zinfandel Vineyard in America.
Guests with a Tour and Passport Tasting ticket will have a chance to walk amongst the ancient vines themselves – Saturday with winemaker Rusty Folena of Vino Noceto and Sunday, with past proprietor & winemaker, Scott Harvey. Tours will meet at the vineyard at 10 a.m., weather permitting. The tasting passport and tour package is $65 per person ($45 for Wine Club Members). Reservations are required, as space is limited to 24 people.
Each winery will be offering current and library vintage tastings of their OGP/Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel, paired with small bites. The passport ticket is $45 per person ($35 for Wine Club Members) and it will grant you access to all three locations, plus a 15% discount on 3 or more bottles of “OGP” Zinfandel purchases for the weekend.
The Original Grandpère Vineyard dates back to the 1860s and was named 2016 Vineyard of the Year by the California State Fair. Still in production today, only four wineries are privileged enough to receive fruit from this vineyard, three in Amador County - Andis Wines, Scott Harvey Wines, and Vino Noceto – with the fourth being Macchia in Lodi.
The identity of the original planters is not officially known, although genealogical research has narrowed it down to the Upton family: either to John D. and Mary T. Upton, the original settlers, or their daughter Martha Upton and her spouse George Rouff, who were married in May 1866. An 1869 land deed shows grapevines planted on the 10-acre site, located in the Shenandoah Valley about five miles northeast of the town of Plymouth.
Click here to purchase tickets to this celebratory weekend! Wine Club ticket pricing available.
I have not missed a harvest since 1974, this being my 45th harvest. I’m wondering how many more I have in me? Especially after this 2018 harvest. Some harvests come and go quickly and are over before you know it. This was not one of those. It was one of those long drawn out harvests that just seemed to go on and on… Fortunately, the long drawn out ones tend to produce the best most flavorful and extractive wines. Harvests like 1974, 1979, 1986, 1991, 1997, 2016 and now 2018.
Harvest started for us on September 6 with Muscat Canelli off our estate vineyard. The grapes are in frozen storage waiting to be pulled out to produce Ice Wine. So, technically harvest is still not over until we process the Muscat Canelli Eis Wine.
We finished harvesting grapes on November 6 and 7 with both the Portuguese varieties for our Forte and Concord for the Tickle Me Pink.
As in most late harvest years, the yields were a little above average in size. We had a wonderful spring with a good healthy flowering for all varieties except the Tempranillo. Our neighbors in Amador County had the same complaint about their Tempranillo.
The growing season was dry and with periods of cool weather and some long hot spells. The hot spells were early enough in the growing season that they did not negatively affect the grapes with excessive sun burning. Harvest began later than normal and went on and on with no rain until early October. I say the best Zinfandels in Amador are made after the first rain. So, it was welcome. After the rain, it dried out quickly with a North wind, so we escaped any molding in the Zinfandel.
Resulting wines are full and extractive with good acidity and lots of regional and varietal character. Wines that were similar to the great 1991 wines I produced at Santino/Renwood.
Scott’s 2015 Mountain Selection Barbera merges beautifully with the richness of this impressive bird dish. The youthful structure of the 2015 vintage transforms your palate and prepares you for the next wonderful bite without skipping a beat.
To make the poussin: Bone each bird to produce two servings per poussin. Begin by cutting down along the breastbone, scraping along the bone to keep the meat intact. Disjoint the wing and continue boning along the wishbone. Turn the bird over and cut along the backbone, carving out the meat from the bone. Disjoint the thigh and continue to remove an entire half of bird with the skin intact. Cut off the wing at the first joint leaving only the shoulder bone attached. Scrape meat off this remaining wing bone to remove the bone, leaving the meat and skin attached to half the bird. Remove the thigh bone, leaving the meat attached to the poussin half. Cut around the knob end of the leg, releasing the skin and tendons. Press the leg meat and skin firmly toward the thigh so that 1-1/2 to 2 inches of leg bone is exposed. Cut the knob off the end of the leg bone and salt and pepper liberally. Repeat with the second half of the poussin.
Next, press the poussin half fold-side-down on a flat surface so the leg bone sticks straight up and the chicken forms a pear shape. Place the leg with the bone up in the baking pan and brush with melted butter. Bake 30 – 40 minutes, or until the juices run clear.
While the bird is cooking sauté the mushrooms in butter for approximately 5 minutes.
Take the birds out and remove from pan and drain off the fat. Deglaze with the wine and reduce to a syrup then add the stock and reduce to ½.
Using a large, warm, shallow pasta bowl, place the purée in the center then take the mushrooms and place on top of the purée. Take the reduced stock and ladle over mushrooms then place the roasted poussin on top in the center and garnish with the rosemary placed into the leg cavity. For an extra effect, light the rosemary just before taking the plate to your guest.
Rolling hills, rustic charm, and world-class wineries await you in Northern California!
If you haven’t already, enter our Wine Country getaway contest to win a three-night/four-day trip for four in Amador County Wine Country.
Once home to Gold Rush prospectors, Amador County is back on the map, this time for its award-winning wines and friendly hospitality.
Winemaking isn’t new to Amador County. Vines were planted in the mid-1800s to satiate the many Europeans that were seeking riches in the area. The volcanic and sandy loam soils are extremely well-suited for creating flavorful and luscious wines. While Prohibition resulted in abandoned vineyard plots, some sites survived due to the resilience of the vines and today are producing spectacular old vine reserve Zinfandel.
In addition to Zinfandel, the local wineries have been successful in producing varieties with Italian, Spanish, and Rhône origins such as Barbera, Aglianico, Tempranillo, Viognier, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre.
The team at Scott Harvey Wines, along with our partners Baja Limo, Taste Restaurant & Wine Bar and FlyWithWine, looks forward to welcoming our sweepstakes winner. Together, we’ve cultivated a handful of VIP food and wine experiences to make your trip a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
The winner and guests will be hosted by winemakers and owners Scott and Jana Harvey at the Scott Harvey Winery in Plymouth... Scott grew up in the Sierra Foothills region and has been involved in winemaking for over 40 years. In 2005, he and his wife Jana–also a wine industry veteran–began making wine under their own labels. They now run two tasting rooms, one in downtown Sutter Creek and the other at their winery in Shenandoah Valley, welcoming thousands of guests for tastings, pairings, tours, and events.
The winner will enjoy a long weekend with accommodations in the winery’s estates guest house. We’ll delight them with a guided vineyard tour with Winemaker Scott Harvey, as well as a private dinner with Scott and Jana Harvey. Good company requires great food, and Estate Chef Brian Overhauser will deliver just that. Additionally, Chef Brian will prepare a VIP Food & Wine Pairing experience to showcase our food-friendly, Old World style wines. A special offer to purchase Scott Harvey Wines at the discounted Wine Club member pricing will allow guests to take home memories to be shared long after their trip.
The weekend will continue with a guided winery tour through Amador County’s sun-drenched hills.
Ride in style with Baja Limo, the premier luxury transport service of the Bay Area and Northern California Wine Country. Courtesy of Baja Limo, the group will receive a $250 gift card allowing them to splurge along the way!
Taste Restaurant & Wine Bar, the most flavorful, local favorite, will treat the winner and their guests to a decadent lunch with the freshest, seasonal ingredients.
FlyWithWine will help the winner continue to create fond memories by supplying a gorgeous, durable 12-bottle VinGardeValise® wine suitcase to transport their award-winning Amador wines home to share with family and friends.
With over 40 wineries and tasting rooms and a plethora of wine varietals to taste, we know you will have a unique and unforgettable adventure in Amador County!
Take a moment to enter online: Wine Country getaway. And don’t forget to share with your friends and family!
We hope to welcome you to Amador County Wine Country soon!
Seasonal changes are a breath of fresh air. Here in Northern California wine country, we ease into the cool, fall weather much later than our Midwest and East Coast friends. But whether it’s still a dry 80 degrees or a balmy 60, Sauvignon Blanc makes for a deliciously drinkable wine all year long – especially when paired with end-of-season tomatoes! Enjoy this delectable dish created by Estate Chef Brian Overhauser. Cheers!
This wine-friendly appetizer is nicely balanced by the crisp refreshment of Jana’s 2017 Sauvignon Blanc from Lake County. It provides appropriate fruit and acidity for this rather clean and fresh salad.
Cut the tomatoes as thin as possible to get 24 pieces and layout in a single layer on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
Salt and pepper each peace and then drizzle some EVOO as well. Now, take the cheese and distribute on top of every other tomato. Distribute the garlic evenly on top of all the slices.
Now, stack one at a time to get 4 stacks with six pieces each containing two slices of Mozzarella
Transfer the very cold plate and top with micro basil and enjoy with a bottle of 2017 Jana Sauvignon Blanc on a warm, late summer day or by the firepit on an early fall evening.
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