Four stops in the Shenandoah Valley

The Navigator and I enjoy taking a day trip to Amador Wine Country. It’s home to over 45 wineries, producing classic zinfandels from ancient vines dating back to 1863. Certainly zinfandels are No. 1 but Italian, Spanish and Rhone varietals are not far behind.

Of the 45 wineries, 30 are located in Shenandoah Valley, which is our regular destination. We pass wineries on the way but it’s usually too early to stop. After visiting our favorites in Shenandoah Valley and then a late lunch at Taste restaurant in Plymouth, it’s too late to stop on the way home. The Navigator suggested we go a bit later and visit those missed tasting rooms and then have a late lunch. That’s why she’s the Navigator, and of course, that’s what we did. Here are four “must stop” tasting rooms to try on your next trip to Amador County.

Tanis Vineyards: Turn left on Willow Creek Road off of Highway 124 and look for an interesting home/winery combo on your right. This small 1,000-case winery makes an excellent sparkling rose, a terrific 2013 merlot and a full bodied 2012 Cabernet franc. Open Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and mid-week by appointment. See

Convergence Vineyards: Get back on Highway124, head north for a few miles and look for the colorful flags on your right. Husband-and-wife winemakers Stephen and Jamie Concannon produce great reds (a killer tempranillo). This column is not big enough to list all the double gold or gold medals won in state and local wine competitions. They’re open Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

24 Brix Wines: This winery harvests grapes at the natural sugar level of 24 brix which they feel is the optimal ripeness. The wines they feature are all 90-plus point winners in the San Francisco International and San Francisco Chronicle Competitions. The tasting room/winery is located on your left as you enter Plymouth on Highway 49. They are open Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Prospect Cellars: In Plymouth, turn left on Main Street and stop at 9506, on your left. Seven wines are on the tasting menu with excellent light provisions (food). The Cooper Ranch Barbera, the Gold Digger Red Blend and the Zinfandel Pay Dirt, all from the 2016 vintage, were my favorites. Prospect is open Thursday-Monday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and they’re only one block away from Taste. Yes!

What’s on our table

This week it’s the 2015 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge. It’s a blend of 50 percent syrah, 40 percent grenache and 10 percent mourvedre. The wine is widely distributed, aged two years and a great value at $15. A light chill made it perfect for the July 4 barbecue. Cheers!

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