Gold Country Wine Drive No. 1

Pour Me Another, Gold Country Map

A Map of Gold Country, (c)David S. Locicero, 2011

Many people I speak with about Gold Country wines are unaware that there are wineries in Amador and El Dorado counties.  Some don’t even have a clear idea of where Gold Country is.  So, I thought I would do a series of posts with recommended drives through various parts of Gold Country, with suggestions about where to stop.   Based on my experience, at a comfortable pace of driving and tasting, you can comfortably stop in at 4 or 5 wineries in a day trip.

Always have a designated driver.  Don’t drink and drive.

This is my first recommended Gold Country Wine Drive.  It is written for those headed to Gold Country from the San Francisco Bay Area.  Head toward Sacramento on Highway 80.  When you get to Sacramento, stay in the left lanes and take Highway 50 toward South Lake Tahoe.  For this first drive, exit at Latrobe Road, and turn right onto Latrobe at the bottom of the exit ramp.

Pour Me Another, Sutter Creek Area

Map of Sutter Creek Group of Wineries, (c)David S. Locicero, 2011

Follow Latrobe Road for about 16 miles to Sera Fina Cellars (Number 5 on the map).  Sera Fina Cellars will be on the left hand side of the road.  Stop in here for your first tasting.

From Sera Fina Cellars, turn left back onto Latrobe and follow it to the “T” intersection with Highway 16.  Turn left onto 16.  Drive for about 2-1/2 miles to the intersection with Highway 49.  Turn right onto Highway 49.  Drive for almost 3 miles to the turn off for Amador City and Sutter Creek.  It is a left turn onto Old Highway 49.

The first little town is Amador City.  I like to drive on to the second town, which is Sutter Creek.  In Sutter Creek, find a place to park and stroll around town.  Have some lunch at Thomi’s or Susan’s Place.  Then go directly to the Scott Harvey tasting room for some wine tasting.  Scott Harvey is not featured in my book as they are not a member of the Amador County Wine Makers association.  They buy their fruit from various regions in California.  The tasting room is bright and friendly, and the wines are quite good.

When you’re done at Scott Harvey’s, continue on Old Highway 49 going in the same direction you were headed when you drove in.  Follow the old 49 to the new Highway 49, turn left and drive about 1/2 miles to the intersection with Ridge Road.  Turn left onto Ridge Road.  Drive up Ridge Road about a mile.  Stop in at either Avio Vineyard & Winery (number 1 on the map) or Sierra Ridge Vineyards & Winery (number 6 on the map).

After 4 wineries, it may be time to head back to SF or to your hotel or B&B.  But if you’re still up for a tasting, I would suggest stopping at Drytown Cellars (number 3 on the map) or Convergence (number 2 on the map) on your way out.  To get there from Avio and/or Sierra Ridge, turn left onto Ridge and follow it back to Highway 49.  Turn right onto 49 and drive back up to Highway 16.  On the way, after the turn off you originally took to go into Sutter Creek, you’ll pass Drytown Cellars on the right hand side.

To get to Convergence, follow 49 back to 16, and turn left.  There will be a left hand turn onto Highway 124.  Follow 124 for not quite ½ mile.  Convergence will be on the left hand side.

You can get back to El Dorado Hills by back tracking down 16 to Latrobe Road, and driving the roughly 18 miles back to town.  If you’re staying in Plymouth, you’ll make the right hand turn onto Old Sacramento Road, about 1-1/2 miles after getting onto Latrobe.

This is a good day trip and if you leave the Bay Area by 9 or 9:30am, you could stop in El Dorado Hills for an early dinner before the drive back, or if you’re “on a mission” you could be back in the Bay Area for a late dinner.  If you are headed back to the Bay Area, I encourage you to stop for dinner in El Dorado Hills.  The Town Center has a bunch of good places to eat at many price points.

As always, have a designated driver.  Don’t drink and drive.  Remember to bring along some bottled water so you can stay hydrated and do stop for lunch.  If you take some time for antiquing in Sutter Creek or make a stop to explore Amador City you may want to either cut out either Avio and Sierra Ridge, or Dry Town Cellars and Convergence.  Or some mix of those.   But, don’t be disappointed.  You’ll be able to come back and taste at the places you’ve had to pass by on a future trip!


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About dslocicero

David is an author and architect living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He writes about wine, food and travel. His first book is Pour Me Another: An Opinionated Guide to Gold Country Wines, now one of the highest rated books about California Wines.