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Chateau Davell is one of the newest tasting rooms to open up here in Placerville. It is located in a quaint cottage at the outskirts of town, and well worth the stop!

Chateau Davell

The winery is owned and operated by Eric Hays, the winemaker, and his wife Emily and mother Davell, who is the namesake of the winery. They all run the winery with the help of little cutie pie Charlotte, who has been known to come dancing into my office looking for a pretzel or two!

I must say that I had the honor of working with Eric in the wine business for a number of years, and I discovered his passion for wine that I have seen in few. The first wine of Eric’s that I sampled was his Cabernet Franc, and that was back three or four years ago. I recognized his talent then, and even more so today!

Barb, Wayne, Ethel and I were on our way back from the other wineries and on our way home. We found ourselves on Carson Road, and I suggested that we stop by to see Eric and his family. We pulled into their parking lot and found ourselves being blown away by the icy wind that had kicked up due to an impending storm. We were greeted on the deck by Eric who warmed us with a sampling his in process “Zander” Zinfandel out of a barrel.

Winemaker Eric Hays

This new wine already shows potential of being a phenomenal wine!

The next wine I tried was the Marguerite. This lovely Rhone blend is comprised of Syrah blended with Grenache. The wine has notes of sweet plum, blueberry and the right balance of oak. This is one of my favorite wines that Eric makes.

My new favorite wine, which is a relatively new release is the Dolores Pinot Noir. The grapes hail from Mendocino, 2010, and have the sweet flavor of French Oak. This lively fruity wine would be incredible paired with poultry or even pork. The flavors of the wine that come forth are of raspberry, a hint of strawberry, and a touch of clove, which makes me think that maybe this would be excellent paired with my rotisserie ham!

The tasting room is very quaint,

Chateau Davell tasting room

and displays some incredible food finds, as well as a lovely display of jewelry made by Davell. The other thing of note, aside from the wine, is the talent that Eric possesses in his art work. His labels all feature his artwork, as do the walls of the tasting room. On the Dolores, the art is a wonderful depiction of his grandmother in repose on a summer picnic in the hills!

So, if you find yourself making a trip to the Sierra Foothills, stop by the eastern end of Placerville to visit with Eric, Emily and Davell! Look them up at: http://www.chateaudavell.com

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So now we go on to the third winery we visited: Miraflores in Placerville. Come with me, Ethel, Barb and Wayne as we visit this winery!

Again, as with our adventure to the other wineries, the road was winding and scenic.

We see alpacas on the way

When we came upon the alpaca farm, which had to have had about 50 of these beautiful creatures, Barb asked if we should stop. I told the group that if we did, I would have to buy something, which led to stories from both Barb and Ethel about what they bought because they stopped! From what I heard, it would be well worth the stop…and we continued on.

We found Miraflores, and drove up the narrow road to the winery. The road is a little rough to the winery, so if you make the trip, take your time. As we approached the winery we found ourselves below the tasting room.

Coming upon Miraflores Winery

Miraflores is one of the small producers in El Dorado County. But the place is grand as are their wines! We headed into the tasting room, which is a new building for them. The previous building held their tanks and barrels. Once in the tasting room we realized that they were really busy!

We sidled up to the tasting room bar. Having been to this winery before, I was on the hunt for the Pinot Grigio, which I had bought on my last visit. I was looking forward to this wine, and was told that unfortunately the wine was no longer available, which taught me a lesson, and one that I will share with you. If you find a wine that you really love, buy it, and buy more than one bottle, otherwise if you go looking for it on your next visit, you might not be able to get it! Even thought I was disappointed, I do look forward to their next release of this wine!

They have an impressive flight of wines. A flight, is the listing of wines that you will be able to try in their tasting room. I stepped back from the bar with a taste of their 2009 Barbera. I marveled at the grandeur of their tasting room.

Inside the Miraflores Tasting Room

Standing back from the crowd, I let the flavors of the Barbera roll around my mouth. This is typically an acidic wine that goes well with any food that has acid, like a dish that includes tomato sauce. Their Barbera was lively and crisp and would definitely hold up to a tomato based dish.

The next wine that I tried was the 2007 Zinfandel, which was rated by Wine Enthusiast Magazine with a score of 92! And this was a most impressive wine! I generally try wines and make my own determination as to whether I like the wine or not. I rarely rely on ratings from reviewers and magazines as what I may like another person may not, so “judge for yourself” is my motto!

I strolled outside to their back patio. The wind was whipping up and I wished that I had worn a jacket. I looked at the beautiful stonework, and what captured my eye was the centerpiece of the area:

Back patio at Miraflores

As I rolled the wine over my tongue, the flavors exploded, and I was picturing what I could pair this wine with. Roast beef and vegetables came to mind! But I could also see this wine with a lovely roast duck too! I headed back in to the tasting room. Barb and Wayne were trying other wines, and Ethel found a wonderful goat cheese with a pesto sauce that was available for all to try.

My last pick was the Principe dessert wine. Here is where I found a piece of heaven on earth! This lovely dessert wine is a port style wine. I closed my eyes and was picturing in my mind how well that this wine would pair with a rich chocolate mousse cake! The grapes used for this wine are a Touriga Nacional and a Tinto Cao. This wine was loaded with smooth plum flavors, and rich chocolate notes! This wine had to come home with me!

Before leaving I ventured to take some photos of their vineyards that not only surround the winery, but flow up the hills rising above them.

Miraflores' vineyards

Behind the pines are more vineyards

Next, we head on over to the tasting room of a very new winery in the Placerville area: Chateau Davell!

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Today’s trip is to Skinner Winery located in Fairplay.  This winery has a history that begins in the 1800’s.  James Skinner, an engineer from Glasgow, came to California in 1842 seeking his fortune.  He mined for gold for a while and as the gold rush was dying down, he discovered that there were other ways to seek his fortune.  He began by acquiring a bit of land and planting grape vines.  Today the Skinner family still maintains vineyards and a beautiful winery.

The way to Skinner Winery takes you through some glorious regions.  Here and there you can find old hay barns

An old hay barn

and hillsides dotted with houses.  Grape vines are grown everywhere!

A house at the edge of a vineyard

As we head on up to the winery we discover that the winery will be using goats to help clear out the unwanted greenery that pops up after the rains. The goats were most curious, and this one I call “The Nose.”

The Nose

Our first sight of the winery was of the building that houses their wine making operation.

The Skinner Winery Facility

Going a bit further up the hillside we come to their new tasting room. Now this structure has character as do their wines!

 

Skinner Tasting Room

Not only does the old style of the tasting room draw your attention, but it is the view that is spectacular!

Looking out off the deck at Skinner

We venture into the tasting room and are greeted by Jeff Renfro who immediately pours us some wine.

Jeff Renfro our tasting room guide

We start off our tasting experience with the white wines. Barb and Wayne fell in love with both the white wines: The first called 7 Generations, which is a blend of 5 different grapes. The predominant being Roussanne, followed by Marsanne. The wine was similar in style to a Chardonnay, with slight oak notes and a clean finish. The next white that is poured for us is 100% Roussanne. The wine was a bit cloudy, but that certainly did not detract from the smoky oak, and lovely light fruit.

Inside the Skinner tasting room

Barb and Wayne went on to other wines and I sampled the Rose. This wine is a lovely combination of Grenache and Mourvedre. The wine is light and lively! But my favorite of the day is the wine called Eighteen Sixty One. This red blend is comprised of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah. This wine is bold and explodes in your mouth with wonderful rich berry flavors reminiscent of a Southern Rhone wine! Just lovely!

If you are planning to picnic, bring your lunch, buy a bottle of wine, and enjoy the view.  Seating is comfortable, and they have a magnificent patio with a fireplace.

The patio at Skinner where they host events

Check out the panoramic view.  If you click on the photo you will see it a bit better.  This photo is made up of 5 photos stitched together.

I headed back up the stairs from the patio and found my friends waiting to go on to the next place.

Wayne, Barb and Ethel give a greeting from Skinner

Next we will be stopping by Miraflores Winery to sample their fare!

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Come and join me, Wayne, Barb and Ethel on our trip to the Sierra Foothills wineries. We went to four in one day but as each winery is so different I thought that I would devote a blog for each one. We start out on our way to Story Winery located in Amador County and just north of the town of Plymouth.

The rolling hillsides are just amazing and it makes the drive an adventure as around every corner there is something to see.

On the road to the wineries

Little valleys are hidden in the hills and when you come upon them they are picturesque and really give you the flavor of the Foothills.

Vineyards as far as the eyes can see

Story is known for producing some amazing Zinfandel wines, and they actually have vines that are more than a century old.

Old Vines at Story

We headed into their production area for some barrel tasting. We tried three different Zinfandel wines two from 2011, and one from 2010. We started off with the Picnic Hill Zinfandel, which had lovely fruit, a note of pepper and oak. The next Zinfandel that we tried was the Quartz Zinfandel. This wine also had notes of pepper but hidden in the background rose petals appear and come forward. The finish on this wine lingered and was truly amazing! Then we tried the last of the three, Alitia Zinfandel. This one was my favorite. The complex flavors of this young wine was packed with fruit, most notable to me was a hint of Apricot.

The tank room at Story Winery

We bought some futures and then headed towards the tasting room.

A sign points the way to the tasting room

On our way we found ourselves under a tree that was humming with the activity of honey bees.

Honey bees were humming in the trees

In the tasting room I fell in love with a sparkling wine that Story produces. It is a cuvee, which, for those who are unfamiliar with this term, means a blend. It is a lovely blush colored wine with a hint of raspberry. Stepping outside and looking off of the deck affords this view of some of the vineyards at Story.

Story vineyards

These vines have yet to be pruned back, but will be shortly.

We leave Story with a parting photo of my traveling companions.

Ethel, Barb and Wayne in the Vineyards

We will be heading out to the next winery, this one in El Dorado County. Come back later to visit Skinner Winery with us!

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I woke up this morning feeling better than I have in the last couple of days. I step outside with a hot cup of java and listen to the sounds of the morning. The geese squabble at the lake, the cows are baying to be fed, frogs in the ponds are singing their song, and it seems that one of our neighbors just acquired a rooster. A very loud rooster indeed!

Something to crow about

There is something calming about the sounds here in the Foothills…And I start to think about my day ahead.

On the slate for today, I will be visiting four wineries here in the Foothills, so stay tuned!

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