Over the years we've tried to visit all of the wineries in El Dorado County so we could become familiar with the distinct characteristics of the region and the quality of the wines here. I've grown especially fond of El Dorado's Barberas.
The primary difference you'll find in the wine tasting experience in El Dorado vs. Napa and Sonoma is the family connection to the wine. You'll discover many small mom-and-pop wineries in the area where you can taste wine without a tasting fee and where the owners and/or winemaker are the ones pouring you the wine you taste in your glass. It felt like Sonoma or the Russian River Valley did when I first started seriously tasting wine back in the early 1990s. And we also discovered that there is great wine here that is a great value in comparison to other more famous wine tasting regions in California or even Oregon and Washington.
One thing that's missing in El Dorado is a big choice between excellent restaurants and food establishments (there definitely is no Oxbow Market). You might want to get a catered picnic to bring with you.
Here are reviews of some of our favorites in El Dorado County.
David Girard Vineyardsfrom Diana S. at Yelp
Never disappointed here! Shout out to Rod, the tasting room manager, who makes you feel like "you've arrived!"
The exclusive gated entrance where one has to pull up and say their name through an intercom makes me feel so posh! Love it!!
The best wines in all of apple hill are actually just a hop, skip, and jump over to D&G. I highly recommend becoming a member because you'll love their reds and whites (rare in Amador and Apple Hill) As you may know our region specializes in barbera and zins they also hold regular spectacular events. One event we attended included star gazing with an astronomy professor and another was a buffet & live band on their gorgeous terrace overlooking the vineyards Reserve cheese board plates for your guests in advance for maximum experience.
from Marcel M. at Trip Advisor
The owners of Eden Vale Inn, where we stayed in Placerville, recommended this winery and set us up an 11 a.m. appointment. Eden Vale also gave us a "Wine Club for a Day "pass" so that should we elect to buy some wines, we would get the member price. Nice.
We arrived on time and were greeted by our host, Rod. The wine room where we met Rod is just beautiful and our wine tasting area was all set out in grand style. They even had a sign on the table greeting us with our names on the sign. There was a very good video going on so that you could see the owner, the winemaker, and the place.
We tasted 6 wines (5 reds and 1 white). Rod also let us try another white that was not on the tasting. We bought a couple of bottles to consume at the Eden Vale, and also bought some bottles to ship back home when the temperature cools down in our home city.
Rod was absolutely delightful. We had so much fun tasting the wines while talking to him about Houston, our home city where he grew up, too. He had just been there recently to visit his mom and sister who live in a nearby city and was amazed at the change he saw as he drove from the airport to the suburb where they live. It is always fun to talk to someone on vacation somewhere else who knows your city (both from the past and present) as well as you do.
Gwinllan Estatesfrom Connie A at Trip Advisor
Hosted by Owner!! This is a special underground place with some very good wines and a fun owner! Gordon, the owner, was our host so we had a fun time sipping a number of great red and white wines while learning many things about the area, vineyards and the nice wines. A memorable experience we won’t forget and that will make each of the numerous bottles we shipped home even more special!
from Charlene W. to Yelp
The winery land and cave is beautiful. They have a picnic and eating area on top of a hill overlooking the gorgeous grapevines. The sunsets are magnificent. The wine is exceptional. The events are amazing - delicious food - cooked by the winery owners and pals. Their "bubbly" is the best. Love their reds. The owners, Chris and Gordon Pack, their son, the vintner, are warm and friendly people. It can't get any better!
MV Wineryfrom Jimmers B. at Yelp
A neighboring favorite winery of ours suggested a stop at MV. We took them up on it and didn't regret it for a second. We joined wine club and enjoyed everything on the tasting menu as well as a few of the others that the owners poured for us.
One thing that we completely appreciate about this winery is that they HOLD their wines until they're ready to drink and not pump them out at the speed of sound to collect $$$$ from the unknowing. Imagine that! Everything red that we had was from 2013. Can't say that about some of the other, big producers in either El Dorado or Amador. You won't be drinking 2017 Zins here! Very nice job. The Cab and Malbec went home with us. We're very glad that we found you.
Jodarfrom Carlos on Google Stopped by on way to Tahoe for wifeys birthday. The reviews are spot on...scenery and wines were awesome. Susan was a gracious host and I am not a wine person as my wife is but the ports here were best Ive had outside Lisbon. Wife loved the zins and cabs so much we joined the club.
from Mariah S. on Yelp
One of our pit stops on our Apple Hill wine tasting day. The wines were all delectable and they had some yummy snacks to pair with them. The pourer was very kind and willing to spend a little bit of time explaining things to us, which is always nice. We will be back!
Skinner Vineyardsfrom Elena at Facebook
This is a spectacular new tasting room with wonderful wines as well as the most friendly owners!!! We will be back soon. I highly recommend this beautiful spot for your special events or just a day out:)
from Sarah H. at Yelp
Gorgeous, dog friendly, stunning views, and great wine. What more can you want. You want to bring your own snacks or a picnic? They're cool with that! Want to sit for hours watching the huge blue sky roll by with your 125lb dog at your side? They're cool with THAT. The wines are delicious and they were super accommodating about my preference for white wines in the afternoon, their service was attentive and informative, and the location can't be beat.
We stayed at the walking-distance 7-Up Guest Ranch, and can't wait to go back to both!