Califonia Bountiful

Region strikes gold with grapes

Amador Country wineries offer delicious vintages and gracious hospitality.

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Amador County is among California's oldest premium winegrape-growing regions, dating to the early days of the Gold Rush in the 1850s. History tells us that many of the prospectors were European immigrants whose love of wine inspired them to plant grapevines in their new home.

Some of these old vines survived and today produce the robust zinfandels for which the region has long been celebrated.

Most Amador County wineries are small, family-owned and -operated businesses known for their gracious hospitality. They offer visitors an intimate view of wine country often unavailable in the more heavily trafficked regions. One of those families is the Spinetta family.

The Spinettas grow several types of grapes at the Charles Spinetta Winery in Plymouth, with the bulk of the wine being shipped to other wineries. They do make about 5,000 cases of their own and sell most of it via their tasting room and mail order business. Visitors can sample wines at the tasting room, which is part of a more than 3,000-square-foot cedar and redwood wildlife art gallery featuring works by local and nationally known artists.

With a seven-generation-long history of farming in the county, the Spinetta family doesn't look to stop anytime soon.

"We are continuing a legacy," Jim Spinetta said. "It is something my predecessors have done. It gives you more of an incentive, because you need to continue that heritage for future generations, including my children."

For more information about the Charles Spinetta Winery, visit

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