Established in 1983, the American Viticultural Area in Northern California known as El Dorado includes those portions of El Dorado County located between 1,200 and 3,500 feet in elevation, bounded on the north by the middle fork of the American River and on the south by the south fork of the Cosumnes River.
El Dorado is a sub-appellation of the 2.6-million-acre Sierra Foothills AVA – one of the largest appellations in California – which includes portions of the counties of Yuba, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras, Tuolomne and Mariposa.
The El Dorado appellation is unique due to its high elevation and complex topography. Its mountain vineyards are perched at elevations high above the valley, where cooling breezes off the Sierra Nevada and the mountainous topography create a diversity of microclimates and growing conditions not found in other regions or in valley settings.
These microclimates provide ideal locations for growing a wide variety of grapes identified with the world’s most acclaimed wine regions, including Bordeaux, the Rhone, Germany, Italy and Spain. El Dorado grows approximately 50 different varieties of grapes, ranging from Gewurztraminer, which does best in the higher and cooler portions of the county, to Zinfandel and Barbera, which ripen perfectly in warmer climates.
El Dorado is cooled by elevation rather than by the fog that is common to the coastal regions. This means the grapes receive more direct sunlight, thus ripening fully without retaining excess herbaceous characters or acidity that is out of balance with the fruit flavors. El Dorado’s relatively cool temperatures also allow the grapes a long “hang time” for uniform ripening.
In conjunction with the climate, there are three basic soil types determining the characteristics of the region: fine-grained volcanic rock, decomposed granite and fine-grained shale. Varying in elevation and topography, each soil offers good drainage and the nutrients needed to encourage vines that produce rich, deeply flavored grapes.
The unique combination of climate, soil and topography found in the El Dorado appellation produces wines of distinction, depth and density with a maturity unmatched in other regions.