Sierra Foothills Wineries: Tasting in One Weekend

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Between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Foothills provide gorgeous weather and ideal conditions for grape growing. A series of wineries take advantage of this Northern California gem and provide a tasting experience that is singular to the region. Ranging from European-style refinement to Gold Country coziness, the wineries of the Sierra Foothills offer spectacular views, intimate interactions, and value.

Day 1

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Wineries /

David Girard Vineyards

Roughly 35 lush acres surround David Girard Vineyards, making this upscale Gold Country winery a luxurious choice to sample all the bounty of the Sierra Foothills. Views from the thoughtfully modern tasting room are divine, where cascading mountains meet row upon row of grapevines. The tasting room is injected with a Tuscan atmosphere, a pleasant change from many of the more rustic wineries in the area.

Insider Tip

In order to deliver a more personalized experience to each visitor, David Girard Vineyards recently began requiring appointments for tastings, but a simple phone call is all that’s needed to set you up.

Directions

From Placerville, take US-50 W and take exit 46 for Coloma Street. Turn left onto Gold Hill Road, turn right onto Cold Springs Road, and the winery will be on your right.

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Wineries /

Grace Patriot Wines

Grace Patriot Wines offers a variety of experiences, from tours of the red barn, where the wine is made, to the elegant tasting room where it’s enjoyed. If you haven’t experienced the kaleidoscope of colored foliage sparkling throughout the year among the Sierra Foothills, tour the grounds at Grace Patriot Wines and be amazed by nature’s paintbrush. The informed staff will guide your tasting through the vineyard’s surprising diversity of varieties, all for a very reasonable tasting fee.

Insider Tip

Visit during weekend evenings in the summer for breathtaking sunsets and live music.

Directions

From David Girard Vineyards, turn left onto Cold Springs Road and turn left onto Placerville Drive. Turn left onto CA-49 N/Spring Street, turn right onto US-50 E/El Dorado Freeway, and take exit 48 for Schnell School Road. Turn left onto Schnell School Road, turn right onto Carson Road, and the winery will be on the left.

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Wineries /

Lava Cap Winery

Lava Cap Winery is an idyllic picnicking spot tucked into a sunny corner of the Sierra Foothills, and they often have live music during weekends, as well as hot food on some occasions, like Mother’s Day. The winery was named after the volcanic soil on which it is built, which is particularly fertile and adds nuanced flavors to Lava Cap Winery’s fine wines. The rich and woody tasting room is built with massive windows that peer into Lava Cap Winery’s winemaking facility.

Insider Tip

It is free to celebrate this geological marvel—tastings are complimentary.

Directions

From Grace Patriot Wines, head west on Carson Road, turn right onto Union Ridge Rd, and turn right onto Hassler Road. Turn left at the first cross street onto Fruitridge Road and the winery will be on the right.

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Day 2

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Wineries /

Crystal Basin Cellars

You could easily spend a whole afternoon at Crystal Basin Cellars, which includes not just a tasting room but a bistro serving New American-style cuisine crafted from ingredients local to the area. Both the food and the wines are reasonably priced, and Crystal Basin Cellars often hosts concerts during the summer. The tasting room is well-lit, down-to-earth, and adjoined by an entire park.

Insider Tip

Check this winery’s calendar, which often includes several events per month including clambakes, crab feeds, and cigar days.

Directions

From Placerville, take US-50 E/El Dorado Freeway. Turn left onto Sierra Blanca Road, turn right onto Carson Road, and the winery will be on your right.

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Wineries /

Madrona Vineyards

As one of the larger wineries in the Sierra Foothills, the sprawling tasting room and grounds at Madroña Vineyards provide more luxury and romance than many of the neighboring wineries. A rotating list of 10 wines are available for tasting, and are all complimentary. The wood-paneled tasting room is simply decorated and enveloped by redwoods, although there are still plenty of amazing views from the winery’s perch, 3,000 feet above the countryside.

Insider Tip

Madroña Vineyards creates 27 different types of varieties, so it’s a fine place to educate yourself about more obscure types of wine.

Directions

From Beemers Winery, head west on Barkley Road and turn right onto Carson Road. Turn right onto US-50 W and turn left onto Camino Heights Drive. Turn left onto Vista Tierra Drive, turn right onto Camino Hills Drive, and the winery will be on your right.

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