f you travel 42 miles east of Sacramento, you’ll find Amador County tucked into the Sierra Nevada foothills. You may know this region as the heart of the gold rush, but it also houses the Shenandoah Valley which was once the main viticultural area in California. In the mid-1800s, at the time of the Gold Rush, the population exploded in the region. Subsequently, wineries popped up all over the valley. Prohibition hit in the early 1930s and devastated the industry. However, some vineyards survived and today, Amador County boasts the oldest documented zinfandel vineyard in the state, with planted vines dating back to 1869.
This vineyard, known as Old Grandpere and also as Vineyard 1869, is still producing beautiful wines that are sought out by wine enthusiasts. Dry-farmed for over 150 years, these gnarly, thick, twisted vines have had to dig deep over their lifetime to find water. This is one of the reasons these vines have survived in such impressive fashion. When rain is lacking, these vines can still manage.
Part of the charm of ancient vines, like these, is that they tend to produce wines with more concentrated flavors. As the vineyard ages, production declines, offering up only a fraction of the yield generated by younger neighbors. Lower yields mean more of the plant’s resources, nutrients and energy are focused into smaller quantities of fruit. From this vineyard, specifically, the resulting wines are spicy and show aroma and taste characteristics that teeter between ripe raspberry and blackberry brightened by a juicy backbone. Just a handful of wineries in the region have access to this vineyard’s extraordinary fruit.
On Friday, Jan. 15, one of those wineries, Scott Harvey Wines, will be hosting a virtual event showcasing wines from this historic plot of land with a vertical tasting (a tasting featuring multiple vintages of the same wine) called the Vineyard 1869 Vertical Experience. Leading the tasting will be Scott Harvey, the legendary Amador County winemaker, winery owner and master storyteller.
There is no charge to register for the online event and participants are invited to purchase wine directly from the winery so they can taste along. This is a unique opportunity to experience wines from one of California’s most historically significant and noteworthy vineyards. For more information, please visit Scott Harvey Wines.