The Fairplay Wineries are located in the southern most part of the El Dorado wine region below Camino. You can get there by leaving highway 50 at Camino or Placerville and taking a drive on some beautiful country roads. Fairplay actually borders on the neighboring wine area of Amador. Fairplay has more wineries than any other sub-region of the El Dorado Wine Region. You can skip from one winery to another and enjoy the tremendous scenery. Picnic areas are available at nearly every winery. Click here for the Fairplay website. Click here for a detailed map from the Fairplay website. Click here for a larger map from the El Dorado Winery Association website so you can get your bearings.
Bechard Vineyard & Winery is located in the town of Somerset overlooking the Cosumnes River at a 2400 foot elevation . This is truly a boutique winery that specializes in high quality small lots. The owners have focused mainly on Rhone and Rioja style wines and grape varieties. The vineyard plantings began in 2002 and it is impressive to taste the quality of wines already being produced. Their Rioja style Tempranillo is dry and fruity with a long finish and just a touch of oak. Their Petite Sirah is robust and dry with great varietal character. I also highly recommend the Sierra Fino blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Petite Sirah. Wonderful and modestly priced! They have moved their tasting room to the winery location at 4244 Rooster Court in Somerset. Open Fri - Sun 11 to 5. (530) 626-0624. Click here for website.
Cantiga Wineworks has enjoyed increasing popularity since they began producing wines with their unique style and approach. Cantiga is a family run winery with husband and wife Rich and Christine Rorden at the helm. Their clear mission to "recapture the art of making wine that benefits from long periods of cellaring" and to "craft a food-friendly style, thus reclaiming wine's rightful place on the dinner table." They prefer to make their wines without malo-lactic fermentation which helps meet their goals of a food friendly and long aging wine. Cantiga produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Semillon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Barbera, Grenache, and Syrah. Their estate Semillon is outstanding with plenty of fruit and varietal aroma. The estate Grenache-Syrah captures the best of both varieties. Located at 5980 Meyers Ln. in Somerset. Open Fri thru Sun, 11 to 5 with a beautiful picnic area. Click here for the website. (530-621-1696)
Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards makes award winning wines and they have a lot of fun doing it. There is always something going on at Charles Mitchell. A popular event is the Lobster and Endless Pizza Night every Friday night. They fire up a brick oven and create gourmet pizza along with Caesar salad and plenty of wine. You just have to order the lobster in advance for something really special. They are also widely known for their bottle-your-own-wine events where you bottle your wine at a discount. Charles Mitchell also offers barrel futures at big discounts by the case and will even sell the whole barrel. They make a wide variety of good wines. One of my favorites are the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend which is fruity and has the wonderful finish of the Semillon. Another is the Bella Rosa Tuscan blend which is a real bargain. Located at 8221 Stoney Creek Rd. in Fair Play. Open Tues thru Sun, 11 to 5. Click here for the website. (530-620-3467)
Colibri Ridge Winery & Vineyard joined the Fairplay winery family in 2001. They are located on a ridge with sweeping views of the mountains and valleys. The tasting room is in the winery among the oak barrels where the wine making art takes place making tasting a special experience for me. Colibri has wasted no time in winning awards for their wines at the prestigious Amador, El Dorado, and Orange County fairs. On a recent tasting visit I enjoyed the 2006 Primitivo (Gold in Orange County) and found it had good tannin, sound structure, strong varietal aroma. The 2006 Barbera (Gold in Amador County) was also very good, expressing intense aroma of cherries and berries. They also create a 2006 Tempranillo (Silver El Dorado County) which was good, showing a sound structure that should age well. They also offer a variety of Bordeaux and Rhone estate wines. Located at 6100 Gray Rock Rd. Fairplay. Open Fri Sat Sun 11 to 5pm. Website (530-620-7255)
Iverson Vineyards & Winery tasting room is located on 32 acres of vineyards that produce under 3000 cases of outstanding wine each year. You won't find their wines in grocery stores in the area. They are sold at the tasting room, through the wine club, and at a few selected restaurants in the Sierra Foothill area. Iverson produces a number of outstanding wines among which is a Primitivo made from 100% estate grown grapes that represents the best of what an El Dorado Region Primitivo should be; bold, fruity, and complex. The Sauvignon Blanc is also a winner and the Grenache Rose' is simply wonderful for sipping on their beautiful deck behind the tasting room. One of my favorites is their refreshing White Sparkling Wine. Located at 8061 Perry Creek Rd. in Fairplay. (530-620-7474) Friday - Sunday 11 to 5. Click here for website
Perry Creek Winery is the home of Zinman, the winery's widely recognized dancing character that appears on bottles of Zinfandel. Their large tasting room is housed in a beautiful Spanish style building that overlooks an expansive picnic and event area. This is a great place to stop and have a nice lunch of your own choosing from their deli case. The winery produces an extensive selection of wines with a particular focus on Zinfandel and Rhone varietals, although there are other outstanding offerings as well. On my last visit I tasted a very good Barbera and the Zinman Rose is a nice entry into the emerging Rose wines of the region. Perry Creek is also producing a Port style wine with true Portuguese grape varieties as well as a Moscato Dessert Wine. Located at 7400 Perry Creek Rd. Open 7 days 11 to 5 (530-620-5175) Website
Shadow Ranch Vineyard is located on an old Gold Rush era homestead built in 1888. Founded in 2006, the tasting facility and barn retain a very rustic charm. Shadow Ranch supports the concept of sustainable farming and their vineyards are soon to be certified as organic. Their winery is actually solar powered. The Shadow Ranch vineyards are planted iSauvignon Blanc, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, and Grenach. They also purchase additional grapes from some of the best growers in the region like Duarte-Georgetown and Mellowood. The Sauvignon Blanc is their only white wine and is a really sophisticated version of this grape. It is fruity, complex, not too dry, and very well balanced. All around a winner. The Tempranillo has great varietal character, a long finish with just a touch of oak, and is very well rounded. Located at 7050 Fairplay Rd. in Somerset. Open 11am to 5pm Mon thru Sun. Click Here for the website. (530-620-2785)
Single Leaf Vineyards & Winery began in 1981 with the purchase of existing Zinfandel vineyards and continued with plantings of Barbera, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petite Sirah. The winery opened with estate grown wines in 1992 and has been making outstanding wines ever since. The winery hosts a beautiful terrace with picnic tables and a breathtaking view. I
have always enjoyed all of the wines from Single Leaf. Their Chardonnay is fruity, but dry, in the El Dorado style that makes it very drinkable. The Signature Red is simply a steal for the price and has lots of up-front character with a long finish. It is a great blend of Zinfandel, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pammie's Cuvee is another favorite of mine and is a rich blend of mainly Zinfandel with some Malbec, Cab, and Merlot. Located at 7480 Fairplay Rd. in Somerset. Open Wed thru Sun 11am to 5pm. Click here for the website. (530-663-5323)
Windwalker Vineyard & Winery is over thirty years old which makes it one of the older wineries in this young area. For me, it seems like it has always been here making good wines and they always seem to have something interesting to taste. They have a long history of awards to show for their efforts and their wines measure up to their reputation. On a recent visit, I tasted a Grenache Dry Rose' that was just wonderful for those hot days in this area. It is pleasing to see real Rose' emerging in our region. Their Barbera was also excellent and I was especially impressed with their Petit Verdot which is usually a blending wine. This one stands on its own very well. Located at 7360 Perry Creek Rd. in Fairplay. Open 7 days 11 to 5. 530-620-4054 Click here for website.