Sierra Foothills: El Dorado county and Fair Play AVA

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About
El Dorado county’s vineyards are much higher than those of Amador county, starting close to 1,500 ft and ranging up above 3,600 ft/1,160 m. Predictably, conditions are cooler, and the choice of varieties leans toward Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Riesling, with Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel. Representative, established wineries include Sierra Vista, Boeger, Lava Cap, Holly’s Hill, and Madroña. Cedarville Vineyards’ Zinfandels and Grenaches can be superb. The subdistrict Fair Play AVA is south of the El Dorado vineyards, which cluster around Placerville (known as Hangtown during the Gold Rush), about halfway to Amador county, but not along the aptly named main road, Highway 49. Thus Fair Play is a mildly isolated destination. But the gaggle of small wineries in Fair Play has a justly deserved reputation for good times and for good value wines. So a steady stream of visitors regularly make the trek.