Red Red Wine, Stay Close To Me

Read about our wine experiences in beautiful Amador County


…aka…I ain’t drunk, I’m just drinkin’

USA Music Tour 2015 Day 4

Plymouth California Monday 24 August

Another hot sunny day in California, around 90 degrees F (32 degrees C).  Coming from an elongated Antipodean winter, this is heaven.

Today is all about wine – grape growing, maturation, bottling, selling and finally! drinking.

But before that, check out Jim’s stunning hummingbird shots, taken just near the house, first thing that morning.


Photo by Jim Jacob


Photo by Jim Jacob

David and trusty doggie Maddie took us on a walking tour of his vineyard.  Most of the grapes here are Zinfandel with a smaller section of Barbera.  In Australian terms, these varietals are closer to Cabernet Sauvignon than pretty much anything else we see Down Under.

It’s harvesting time here.  The vines are bursting and, with some picking already done, the bulk of it happens in three days times, sadly after we leave.  Not all grapes are picked though, as those on the secondary branches are seldom used due to their inferior quality.  This Friday there’ll be about a dozen pickers, fork lift and small tractors with trays, with everything recorded as they go – quite an operation.  It all needs to be synchronised as the pickers work hard in the hot sun and don’t want to be delayed waiting for the trays to catch up – they get paid by the grape weight as well, so they don’t want to have to slow down or stop.  All in all, there’s a 15 ton harvest expected.

On our way back up to the house, we walked beside the next door neighbour’s alpaca farm (with a couple of llamas as well).

It was time for some winery visits.  First stop was Toscanos on Shenandoah Road.

As you may gather, it is heavily Tuscan in influence.  Lunch was available and we ordered some humble fare and were advised to start tasting at the other end of the Italianate path, past the Cyprus trees and statues and into the beautiful wine tasting room.


Toscanos tasting room Photo by Jim Jacob

Coordinating the wine tasting with lunch at the shaded outdoor eating area seemed a bit like too much logistical effort on this idyllic day, so Jim and I opted for a single glass of white Barbera – light and floral.


Lunch at Toscanos – Photo by Jim Jacob

After an enjoyable interlude, we ventured up the hill to Helwig, perched atop a hill with 360 degree views.


The view from Helwig winery – Photo by Jim Jacob

We dispensed with the white wine option and tasted our way through the reds.  I acquired a bottle of the 2012 Barbera and had a look at the nearby amphitheatre where (Jefferson) Airplane/Starship had played just a few days before.  Back the way we came, down the hill to Amador Cellars, where Bronwyn and David’s friends Larry and Linda greeted us.  This is a smaller and more intimate place, more of a family owned and managed operation and it was good to be back here after a couple of years.  What followed was a chat, a taste or two and a lot of viticulture knowledge gained before we bade our farewells.


Amador Cellars – Photo by Jim Jacob


Photo by Jim Jacob

A quick turnaround back at the Fields’ house and a delicious meal at Taste in the heart of Plymouth village closed the book on a perfect day in Amador County.

Tomorrow, it’s retail therapy.


Read about our wine experiences in beautiful Amador County


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Author: Rob Dickens

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