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A Beer & Wine Lover's Guide to the Region

07/25/2017 12:37PM ● Published by Sharon Penny

Photo ©hiddenhallow - stock.adobe.com.

With a bounty of breweries and wineries in our backyard, we thought it’d be beneficial to put together an entire guide of our favorites. Read on to learn about the passionate people behind the pours, discover where the best tasting rooms in town are, find local restaurants cooking up beer- and wine-spiked dishes, and more. 


MEET THE MAKERS

The act of making beer and wine is an act of community—a way of bringing people together. We asked local makers, and masters of their craft, to tell us their stories—stories that are bound to give you, the humble consumer, an appreciation of the heart, soul and commitment that goes into every harvest, every brew and every pour. 


Marco Cappelli

Miraflores Winery

2120 Four Springs Trail, Placerville, 530-647-8505

Marco Cappelli has been a winemaker since 1987, and his life story is as vibrant as the wines he produces. The son of Italian-born parents, Cappelli grew up in Monterey and Carmel. After some casual college mead-making led to an introductory wine class at UC Davis, he caught the winemaking bug the following year and worked a harvest at Napa’s Louis Martini Winery. Recalls Cappelli, “The experience convinced me that making wine would be my life’s work.” After obtaining a degree in fermentation science at UC Davis, he spent 20 months in Italy at Chianti Classico and France at Sauternes, before returning to California where he came under the mentorship of the “dean of American winemakers,” the renowned André Tchelistcheff. “André was my mentor and not only guided me through those formative early years but also shaped my overall view of wine and the industry—something I’m still grateful for many years later,” he says. One of Cappelli’s earliest realizations became one of the most long-lasting. Says Cappelli, “It took me many years to understand how modest the winemaker’s role really is in making fine wine. The most important part of the process is ensuring that the vineyards are well-maintained and the fruit is picked at the right maturity. All we really do in the winery is preserve the fruit in the form of wine—the basic quality and character of the wine is already established before the grapes arrive at the winery.  I am reminded of this every vintage.” Cappelli has been with Miraflores since 2014, after 17 years at Napa Valley’s Swanson Vineyards, and his wealth of experience has not lessened the humility with which he approaches winemaking. “There’s nothing especially different or innovative about the way I make wine; in fact, I probably use fewer ‘tricks of the trade’ than most winemakers. Miraflores has a remarkable location and a unique terroir; we try to put less of ourselves in the wine and make more of an effort to showcase the natural character of the fruit.” 


Q&A

Favorite varietal: White Rhône blends

Favorite wine and food pairing: Short ribs braised in chicken stock and Tawny port with a pinch of star anise paired with an old Mission Angelica

Top 3 local wines to taste now: Toogood Estate Zinfandel,

Elevation Ten Tempranillo, Illuminare Cabernet Franc

What you like most about local wine: Local wines are so compatible with food; they’re balanced and have great varietal focus


TASTING ROOM ROUNDUP

Best One-Stop Shop

With multiple tasting rooms all in one place, you can point your Uber driver to any one of these and cavort freely.

 

 

Amador 360 Winery Collective
18590 State Hwy 49, Plymouth
209-245-6600, amador360.com


Camino Wine Tasting Plaza
3500 Carson Road, Camino
530-644-4018, finzinwines.com/maps.html


Old Sugar Mill
35265 Willow Avenue, Clarksburg
916-744-1615, oldsugarmill.com


The Underground Tasting Room
900 2nd Street, Sacramento
916-444-2349, theundergroundtastingroom.com


Best for Live Music 

While you’re sipping, delight another one of your senses with great live music at these local spots.


 

Cante Ao Vinho
5250 Front Street, Rocklin
530-632-8058, canteaovinho.com


Dono dal Cielo Vineyard
6100 Wise Road, Newcastle
530-888-0101, donodalcielo.com

 

Helwig Vineyards and Winery
11555 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth
209-245-5200, helwigwinery.com


Naggiar Vineyards and Winery
18125 Rosemary Lane, Grass Valley
530-268-9059, naggiarvineyards.com


Mastroserio Winery
7351 Fairplay Road, Somerset
530-417-4321, mastroseriowinery.com




 Jeff Meyers

Terra d’Oro

20680 Shenandoah School Road, Plymouth, 209-245-6942

Jeff Meyers’ path to winemaking was a short, straight line of pure happenstance. At a UC Davis football game, during a conversation with a teammate on the sideline, Meyers learned that UC Davis offered enology (winemaking) as a major. (His hastily declared major at that time was bacteriology.) Intrigued, Meyers took an introductory course the following quarter and, as Meyers recalls, “Two weeks into the class I transferred into enology and never looked back. It was the best decision I ever made.” After graduating first in his class, he took a job two months later at Montevina, which became Terra d’Oro. Starting out, Meyers recalls that the biggest challenge was the difference between theory and practice. “I left school knowing more about why you would filter wine but not how to actually do it. I also think there can be a very romantic misconception about winemaking, [as] winemaking, particularly at the entry level, is hard, dirty work. You’re hot, tired, sweaty and sticky all the time. You have to love it.” Thirty-five years later, Meyers’ love of winemaking has deepened with age. What’s the draw? “Harvest,” he says. “There’s nothing like harvest. It’s a ton of work and it’s long, hard and pressure-packed, but I love it. There’s something cathartic about it. You shed your skin and start anew each year. Every harvest holds that promise to every winemaker to be the very best one ever...it’s the very essence of winemaking.”


Q&A

Favorite varietal: Chardonnay from Chablis; Sangiovese grown in Montalcino, Italy, is a close second—unless I’m feeling flush—then first-growth Bordeaux that’s at least 15 years old (ideally shared with a group of friends who love and appreciate fine wine)

Favorite wine and food pairing: Zinfandel and medium-rare Amador County spring lamb chops with some rosemary; although wild boar ragout over pappardelle and Zinfandel is damn good too

Top 3 local wines to taste now: [Anything from] Renwood Winery, Sobon Estate and Borjon Winery

What you like most about local wine: It’s made by my friends


TASTING ROOM ROUNDUP

Pet Friendly 

Don’t leave them home: Bring your fur babies along for the ride! Pets are welcome at these spots.


Andis Wines
11000 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth
209-245-6177, andiswines.com


Boeger Winery
1709 Carson Road, Placerville
530-622-8094, boegerwinery.com


Casque Wines Tasting Room
9280 Horseshoe Bar Road, Loomis
916-652-2250, casquewines.com


Crystal Basin Cellars
3550 Carson Road, Camino
530-647-1767, crystalbasin.com


D’Artagnan Vineyards
813 Sutter Street, Suite A, Folsom
916-597-0158, dartagnanvineyards.com


 Everhart Cellars
5821 CA State Highway 49, Pilot Hill

530-885-9463, hart2hartvineyards.com


Sera Fina Cellars
17000 Latrobe Road, Plymouth
209-245-4300, serafinacellars.com


Via Romano Vineyards
3400 Carson Court, Placerville
530-269-9463, vrv.vin


Viña Castellano
4590 Bell Road, Auburn
530-889-2855, vinacastellano.com



Kid Friendly 

These wineries and breweries welcome kids, so you can make your next trip a family day out.


Berryessa Brewing Company
27260 Hwy 128, Winters
530-795-3526, berryessabrewingco.com


Holly’s Hill Vineyards
3680 Leisure Lane, Placerville
530-344-0227, hollyshill.com


Jack Russell Farm Brewery
2380 Larsen Drive, Camino
530-647-9420, jackrussellbrewery.com


Knee Deep Brewing
Company Tap Room

13395 New Airport Road, Suite H, Auburn
530-797-4677, kneedeepbrewing.com


Rancho Roble Vineyards
340 Fleming Road, Lincoln
916-645-2075, ranchoroble.com


Eric Hays

Chateau Davell Boutique Winery

3550 Carson Road, Suite E, Camino, 530-644-2016

The story of Chateau Davell Boutique Winery is a story of love and perseverance. Owner Eric Hays grew up in Sacramento. After years of managing restaurants and country clubs, the late nights started to wear him thin and Hays began considering a career change. Says Hays, “One of my guests at a supper club in Placerville told me they were looking for help at one of the larger wineries in El Dorado County. I started in the tasting room and shortly picked up some days in the cellar.” He was hooked. “I quickly learned that I loved this business,” he says, admitting there’s still a learning curve. “Although I have a bachelor’s degree in the arts from Sacramento State, I never took any chemistry classes, so I’m still catching up to this day.” Ultimately, however, love (of wine) conquers all. Aided by the hard work of his wife and business manager, Emily, and his mother, Davell (after whom the winery is named), the business opened in 2009. Their approach to winemaking is unique. “Our goal is to create natural wines void of any dyes or unnecessary chemicals. We don’t filter or fine. Our intent is not to make the same wine every year, but to make a good wine that shows the vintage and expresses the true varietal character. If a wine is a little lighter in color or a little cloudy, that’s OK. We farm organic, so all of our estate wines are organic, and we try to source organic fruit when available,” he shares. Hays now realizes that his dream has only increased his love for winemaking. “One of the things I really enjoy about my job is the diversity of responsibilities—from vineyard to cellar and the tasting room. My favorite is working in the vineyard. I love the connection to Mother Earth.” And his advice for aspiring winemakers? “Only do it if you love it.”


Q&A

Favorite varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon

Favorite Wine and Food pairing: Wild mushrooms with duck confit and Pinot Noir

Top 3 local wines to taste now: Narrow Gate Dunamis-Rhône Blend, Bumgarner Cabernet Sauvignon, Cedarville Syrah 

What you like most about local wine: El Dorado County has a tremendous variation of terroir that allows us to grow a huge variety of different grapes


TASTING ROOM ROUNDUP

Soak in the Views

Next to food, the best pairing with wine or beer is a gorgeous view. Soak it all in at one of these locales.


Amador Brewing Company
9659 Main Street, Plymouth
209-507-1900, amadorbrewing.com


Avio Vineyards
14520 Ridge Road, Sutter Creek
209-267-1515, aviowine.com


Gold Hill Vineyard and Brewery
5660 Vineyard Lane, Placerville
530-626-6522, goldhillvineyard.com


 Holly’s Hill Vineyards
3680 Leisure Lane, Placerville
530-344-0227, hollyshill.com


Lewis Grace Winery
2701 Carson Road, Placerville
530-642-8424, gracepatriotwines.com


Mount Aukum Winery
6781 Tower Road, Somerset
530-620-1675, mountaukum.com


Rancho Roble Vineyards
340 Fleming Road, Lincoln
916-645-2075, ranchoroble.com


Sentivo Vineyards and Winery
7460 Fairplay Road, Somerset
916-936-3306, sentivovineyards.com


Story Winery
10525 Bell Road, Plymouth
209-245-6208, storywinery.com




Dawn Martella

Karmère Vineyards and Winery

11970 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth, 209-245-5000

As a country girl growing up in Grass Valley, Dawn Martella always wanted to be a winemaker. Fate intervened in the most unlikely of places: While taking a college welding class. Martella recalls, “The instructor gave me a bottle of wine from his vineyard. Since I already had a crush on him, at that point the sky opened and a beam of light illuminated him. I think there were angels singing in the background, too.” The instructor became her husband; as a viticulture and plant science teacher, he helped spark her journey. After working on small productions, she initially turned down Karmère owner Marilyn Hoopes’ offer to become winemaker because of the sheer size, but a pep talk from her husband convinced her to reconsider. “And I’m glad I did,” says Martella. “I just love being here and doing what I do.” Martella is now approaching her 11th harvest at Karmère, and is deeply passionate about all aspects of winemaking. Every winemaker does things a little differently; Martella says she likes to focus on varietal character. “I want to taste those elements that make Barbera, Grenache, Zinfandel, etc., taste the way they are.  When I walk through the vineyard, I taste the whole cluster, because it tells me what the wine wants to be.” Of all the aspects of winemaking, walking the vineyard prior to harvest is her favorite. Says Martella, “There’s a welcoming peace to the vineyard that draws me, and I’m always at my happiest touching the vines and watching their progress. Someone once quoted ‘how can one be an atheist in the vineyard, when you find yourself in the presence of the Divine?’”


Q&A

 

Favorite varietal: Probably one of those great Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs

Favorite wine and food pairing: Oysters from Hog Island and a nice flinty Sancerre

Top 3 local wines to taste now: Amador Cellars Montepulciano, any Sangiovese by Vino Noceto, Lavender Ridge or Skinner Grenache Blanc

What you like most about local wine: The expression each winemaker brings…so much variety!


TASTING ROOM ROUNDUP

Games Galore

From cornhole to giant Jenga, you’re bound to find something to challenge your compromised hand-eye coordination here! 


Andis Wines
11000 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth
209-245-6177, andiswines.com


American River Brewing Company
11151 Trade Center Drive, Suite 104, Rancho Cordova
916-635-2537, americanriverbrewingcompany.com


EDH Brewing Company
875 Embarcadero Drive, El Dorado Hills 916-939-6827, edhbrewing.com


Julietta Winery
51221 Clarksburg Road, Clarksburg
916-744-9090, juliettawinery.com


Stoney Creek Inn and Vineyard
8320 Stoney Creek Road, Somerset
916-342-7287


Saluti Cellars
7505 Grizzly Flat Road, Somerset
530-626-0800, saluticellars.com


Terre Rouge and Easton Wines
10801 Dickson Road, Plymouth
209-245-4277, terrerougewines.com



Joe Shebl

Renwood Winery

12225 Steiner Road, Plymouth, 209-245-6979

For Joe Shebl, the journey to director of winemaking and general manager at Renwood Winery was less a straight line and more like a full circle. Explains Shebl, “In 1999, I saw an ad for a cellar worker position at Renwood. I sent my resume in and showed up in a suit and tie for the interview. The winemaker at the time basically hired me on the spot. It was a lot of hard work and commitment, but I instantly fell in love with the job. I have held every position at Renwood—from entry-level cellar rat to working in the lab—and finally made it to assistant winemaker in 2002. Then in 2009, I left to pursue other projects. I returned in 2013 as director of winemaking and general manager.” And Shebl couldn’t be happier. “I love the fact that my first job out of school started here and my journey has brought me back.” Love for Renwood and his winemaking team, and the winemaking process, were all part and parcel of why Shebl couldn’t stay away. Says Shebl, “My job here is amazing in so many ways. Making and sharing wines that bring people enjoyment is by far at the top. I love being outside in the vineyards and working with the land to create wines that people fall in love with. Most importantly, however, are all the amazing people I meet and work with...We have a killer team.” And that team is the key to Renwood’s success. “Without my team, we cannot bring the wine to life. We have a group of guys and girls who truly care and are committed to what we’re trying to do with our wines.” If they care as much as their team leader, then there’s no end to the success that Renwood can continue to achieve.


Q&A

Favorite VARIETAL: Zinfandel-Barbera blends

Favorite wine and food pairing: Filet with Renwood 2014 Petite Sirah

Top 3 local wines to taste now: Renwood Grandmére, Fiddletown Old Vine Zinfandel, Borjon Barbera Reposado

What you like most about local wine: I believe Amador is one of the most underrated regions in the world, but is becoming more and more popular, so it’s fun to share what this amazing wine-growing region is doing


TAKE FLIGHT

Can’t decide which beer or wine to order? Try multiple small pours before committing to one at any of the spots below. 


BEER

36 Handles, 1010 White Rock Road, El Dorado Hills, 916-941-3606, 36handles.com


Bricks Eats and Drinks, 482 Main Street, Placerville, 530-303-3480, bricksonmainstreet.com


Folsom Tap House, 25005 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 140, Folsom, 916-292-5711, folsomtaphouse.com

 

Grist Beer Hall, 310 Palladio Parkway, Suite 713, Folsom, 916-693-6480, gristbeerhall.com


Hop House, 4364 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 128, El Dorado Hills, 916-358-3977, hophouseedh.com


Placerville Brewing Company, 155 Placerville Drive, Placerville, 530-295-9166, placervillebrewingco.com


Placerville Public House, 414 Main Street, Placerville, 530-303-3792, placervillepublichouse.com


WINE

The Wine Smith, 346 Main Street, Placerville, 530-622-0516, thewinesmith.com


Flightz, 3907 Park Drive, Suite 110, El Dorado Hills, 916-805-5128, flightzwinepub.com


Gold Vine Grill and Wine Bar, 6028 Grizzly Flat Road, Somerset, 530-626-4042, goldvinegrill.com


Prohibition Wine Lounge, 2776 East Bidwell Street, Suite 500, Folsom, 916-235-9371, prohibitionwinelounge.com



 Mike Mraz

Mraz Brewing Company

2222 Francisco Drive, Suite 510, El Dorado Hills, 916-934-0744

Mike Mraz is a down to earth kinda guy. Actually, “down to dirt” might be more accurate. A keen devotee of all things wheeled, Mraz recalls, “My childhood was pretty much riding motorcycles and playing in the dirt.” Aside from being the owner and brewmaster of Mraz Brewing, not much has changed; Mraz is a passionate hiker, motorcycle rider and mountain biker, and just recently completed his first Ironman in Santa Rosa. But whether he’s indoors brewing beer or playing outside, at the end of the day, he’s a competitor. Four years ago, in June 2014 (a mere 13 months after Mraz Brewing’s grand opening), Mraz won two gold medals at the California State Fair for their Window of Opportunity Belgian Tripel and The Cardinal (a Flanders-style red ale). At the time, it seemed like overnight success, but Mraz was no stranger to competition. He moved to El Dorado Hills from Vacaville 11 years ago and started homebrewing a year later. Says Mraz, “I started homebrewing because I’ve always liked craft beer and the experimentation that goes along with it.” Experiment he did, and just two years into it, Mraz was named “California Homebrewer of the Year” in 2008 and 2009. The Maltose Falcons, the oldest homebrew club in America, bestowed Mraz with coveted awards as well. With such a flair for homebrewing, it was a foregone conclusion that Mraz should open his own brewery, and in 2013, Mraz Brewing was born. If you think all that winning might give Mraz a big head (unintended beer pun; you’re welcome), think again. Mraz says with a laugh, “I opened the place and hired myself. Nobody else wanted the position.” 


 Q&A

Favorite style of beer: Belgian Golden Strong or Saison

Favorite beer and food pairing: Mraz Window of Opportunity (Belgian Tripel) with a charcuterie and cheese plate

Top 3 local beers to taste now: Mraz The Cardinal, Mraz Infernus, Berryessa Double Tap

What you like most about local beer: The diversity and freshness; plus, it’s always nice to know the people who make it and give them my support


TASTING ROOM ROUNDUP

No Tasting Fee

Just a smile and the pleasure of your company are required to taste the delicious offerings at these wineries


Bogle Vineyards
37783 County Road 144, Clarksburg
916-744-1139, boglewinery.com


Cooper Vineyards
21365 Shenandoah School Road, Plymouth
209-245-6181, cooperwines.com


Frasinetti Winery and Restaurant
7395 Frasinetti Road, Sacramento
916-383-2444, frasinetti.com


Perry Creek Winery
7400 Perry Creek Road, Somerset
530-620-5175, perrycreek.com


Terra d’Oro
20680 Shenandoah School Road, Plymouth
209-245-6942, terradorowinery.com



Teresa Pstuty

Crooked Lane Brewing Company

536 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn, 530-878-5232

Crooked Lane Brewing Company’s brewmaster Teresa Pstuty blinds us with science on the regular; she holds a bachelor of science in chemistry and spent 10 years in the biotech industry as a field service engineer before entering the world of beer, and her science background still informs her brewing technique today. “In the brewery, I take an analytical approach,” says Pstuty. “I measure everything as the brew day progresses so I can maintain consistency.” And for Pstuty, consistency is key. “I believe the more measurements you can take in the process, the better you will be able to identify problems if they occur,” she says. The scientific approach is working—Crooked Lane recently won Best of Show and a double gold medal at the El Dorado County Fair, a silver medal for their Gnarly Goat and gold for the Wobblor Doppelbock at the California State Fair, and silver and bronze medals at the LA International Beer Competition. Not bad for opening just last August! It helps that Crooked Lane is a family (and friends) affair; Pstuty’s husband, Adrian, is co-owner, neighbor Paul Schilling handles the marketing, and close friend Kirt Braun handles sales. For Pstuty, establishing their roots in the Auburn community and providing a gathering space for locals feels just as much like success as the well-deserved accolades. As for the elephant in the room—the notion of Pstuty being a female brewmaster in a male-dominated industry—the reality is more positive (and inclusive). Says Pstuty, “Women are such a big part of the craft brewery explosion. We’ve become a big part of the customer base, and central players in the success of the industry. As co-owner, I had an advantage to assume the position of brewmaster, but I’ve been delighted at the way I’ve been received and the great treatment I’ve had in just about all my interactions in the beer community at large. Craft beer is no longer the domain of bearded men.”


Q&A

Favorite style of beer: I love any well-made beer, but West Coast IPAs are closest to my heart

Favorite beer and food pairing: Spicy Thai with IPA

Top 3 local beers to taste now: The Monk’s Cellar London Porter on nitro, Ol’ Republic Hell Beer, Crooked Lane Roaky Mandarin IPA 

What you like most about local beer: Its freshness, and the fact that you can talk to the people who make it


BOOZY BITES

Eat your alcohol with these culinary creations from local restaurants that are made using beer or wine.

Adult Beer Float from Wally’s Pizza Bar, 4079 Cameron Park Drive, Cameron Park, 530-677-5205, wallyspizzabar.com


Beer-Battered Potato Fries from The Independent, 629 Main Street, Placerville, 530-344-7645, independentplacerville.com


Sherry-Infused Lobster Bisque from Heyday Café, 325 Main Street, Placerville, 530-626-9700, heydaycafe.com


Coq au Vin (Chicken Braised in Red Wine) from Allez!, 4242 Fowler Lane, Suite 101, Diamond Springs, allezeldorado.com


Pollo Picatta (Chicken Breast Sautéed in White Wine with Mushrooms, Lemon and Capers) from Papa Gianni’s Ristorante, 3450 Palmer Drive, Suite 1, Cameron Park, 530-672-2333, papagiannis.net


Seafood Linguini (Clams, Sea Scallops, Prawns, Mussels, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Red Onions, Capers and Fresh Lemon in a White Wine Butter Sauce with Fresh Linguini) from Smith Flat House, 2021 Smith Flat Road, Suite F, Placerville, 530-621-1003, smithflathouse.com


Steak Cabernet Pot Pie from Z Pie, 3182 Center Street, Placerville, 530-621-2626 


Article by Sharon Penny
Amador 360 Winery Collective courtesy of Amador 360 Winery Collective. Old Sugar Mill photo by Justin Buettner. Cante Ao Vinho photo by Ginger Tivey. Lewis Grace Winery photo by Trevor Grace. Holly’s Hill Vineyards photo by Gary Zsigo. Andis Winery photo by Dante Fontana. Sera Fina Cellars photo courtesy of Sera Fina Cellars. Bogle Vineyard photo courtesy of Bogle Vineyard.Meet the Makers and Boozy Bites photos by Dante Fontana.




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