The big “Behind the Cellar Door” Amador County wine tasting event took place on the first weekend of March 2013 this year with multiple levels of success. Individual wineries fulfilled their goals of introducing the results of their hard work to new faces and familiar returning friends. The thousands of fans who come out each year vary in age, origins, and intention but the number one purpose is to enjoy a weekend in the foothills that are abundant with viewable landscapes, vineyards, excellent wine, and dozens of reputable as well as award winning wineries.
Wine tasting is always available in Amador County whether complimentary, for a small tasting fee, or as part of another event. The Amador Vintners Association is proud to head a group of 36 regional wineries that have worked hard to develop their land, their image, and, of course, their product. “Behind the Cellar Door” allows participants to check into any or all of the member wineries and not only sample the wines but also meet owners and family, winemakers, chefs, and staff including great numbers of volunteers who come out to help during these events. There is no shortage of wine and charm to enhance it.
Those who stopped in at Convergence Vineyards were treated to beautiful rolling hills and a taste of the Irish for the “Passport to the World” theme as well as being greeted by dedicated owners, Steve and Jamie Concannon. The wine was divine but the enthusiasm and sparkle in the eye exhibited by the Concannons as they told their winemaking history gave the taste an extra favorable note. Steve could be found with scrapbook in hand, explaining their twelve years of acquisition, development, and hard work that created the currently standing Convergence vineyard and excellent product while Jamie ladled out an Irish baked potato soup.
Participants traveling along Steiner Road in Plymouth would find Dillian Wines among the collective of Steiner Road wineries. Here they would also encounter one of the most talkative, lovely ladies exuding charm and pride in the region and the winery. Volunteer Gloria Gayle Brewer was full of both interesting information as well as contagious enthusiasm. Details about the many generations of land ownership, vineyard establishment, local friendships, and of course the wines were abundant in Gloria’s answers to questions. Anyone unwilling to smile after encountering Ms. Brewer's genuine personality simply had to be a Grinch. Barrel tasting was also being offered by the owner who was equally full of smiles and charm.
Dillian Wines also treated visitors to some of the best homemade ravioli in the county. The Vinciguerra Ravioli Company was set up on the patio and provided fresh and delicious samples. Pasta lovers will surely want to look up Vinciguerra which is located at 225 Sutter Street in Jackson, CA. And those who wanted to enjoy a more varied near-feast accompanying a lengthy listing of wine tasting made sure to drive a bit out of the cluster groups and visit Drytown Cellars on Hwy 49.
Drytown deserves the winning award for best spread of food to accompany the featured wines. While other wineries may have been food-wine pairing intricately specific, Drytown Cellars was generous with cheese trays, crackers, and vegetable trays but did not stop there and offered lamb kabobs, grilled asparagus and chicken, and grass fed beef meatballs provided by Sutter Creek Cattle Company and even more. Fifteen, yes fifteen, wines were available for the event tasting from Sauvignon Blanc to Barbera and dessert Port. Drytown worked from sun up to down to welcome the rush of guests and make them comfortable as well as familiarized with their product. Drytown could also be considered eligible for an award of cost to taste ratio with their sophisticated, excellent wines typically priced under $20. Dog lovers would also give them a thumbs up and enjoy the company of the unobtrusive guests who were well mannered and cute as a hound can get.
The great number of Amador wineries combined with their dedicated approach and varied personalities and tastes makes “Behind the Cellar Door” a must-do for true wine aficionados. The region is flowing with tried and tested abundance and elevates the wine-making status of California to greater heights. The next event that includes all 36 Amador Vintners Association wineries will take place in fall with the annual “Big Crush” and should seriously be considered by those who have overlooked the foothill wine country and its extensive list of past and recurring award winning wines as well as personality, beauty and charm.