The Oldest Winegrowing Region
American Viticulture studies reveal that the cultivation of grapes in America dates back to the 17th century, by the Dutch farmers. Some of the oldest and most premium vineyards in North America are situated in California. The California wine trade industry flourished in the Gold Rush regions of the Sierra Foothills. One of the oldest vineyards of America is situated in Amador County, near Plymouth. The Sierra Foothills wine harvesting and producing region stretches from Mariposa County to El Dorado, with Calaveras, Amador and Tuolomne counties in between. It extends from Mariposa to Placerville and the vineyards are situated roughly at an altitude between 2,500 and 3,000 feet.
The Sierra Foothills wine province developed along the similar lines of the more popular Napa Valley and Sonoma County vineyards. The El Dorado County vineyards were planted mainly for the Petite Sirah, Mission, Zinfandel and similar Italian varieties. These varieties are still some of the finest premium wines of the Sierra Foothills. Due to the high elevation of this particular region, the lack of ocean influences and the cooling fog is largely compensated. An added advantage is that this region receives an abundance of sunshine throughout the growing season, which is important for the clear fruity flavor and the vegetal and herbal hints.
Wine cultivation in the Sierra Foothills was affected in the early half of the 20th century because of the decline in population and due to the imposed prohibition. The region only started to progress in the trade, in the late 70s. Reports reveal that some parts of the Sierra Foothills possess similar climatic conditions as that of St Helena and Oakville, in the Napa Valley. However, the past few decades has seen the Sierra Foothills make a glorious comeback. Certain soils and microclimates within the region have contributed towards improved winemaking. It claims to have surpassed all previous expectations and achievements.
From south to the north, the Sierra Foothills province includes Mariposa, Calaveras, Tuolomne, Amador, El Dorado and all the Nevada Counties. This region is home to an extremely pleasant and beautiful springtime and a particularly dry and warm summer. The low-lying areas are mainly situated in the Oak belt and Chapparal, while the higher elevations are located in the pine belt. This belt flaunts a very pleasant weather even during summer.
Wineries in the southern part of the foothills are traditional and charming. They are perfect for those who wish to indulge in local wines, with the family in tow. The southern wineries generally focus on making traditional varieties of wine, like the Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The Maldavino vineyards in the Calaveras County serve some of the most reputed wines made from the legendary Mission grapes.
A wide range of quality wines are born at the Sierra Foothills and finding exceptional value is quite easy, even among the finest of all premium wines. This is largely because most of the Sierra wineries are small, family businesses that sell to an established consumer base or sometimes via the wine tasting rooms. Other larger wine producing industries have taken a backseat, although several large Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries have been catering big time, for many years now.
About the Author: Kris Koonar
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