Learn by Tasting: Exploring Old Vine Wines in Amador County

Are you a fan of old vine wines? If so, get ready to explore a wine and region that are worth knowing about for their exceptional quality and value. In this episode of Learn by Tasting, Wine Folly takes you on a blind tasting journey through Amador County, a region with a rich history in California wine. Home to many old vineyards planted with Italian-inspired grapes like Barbera and Vermentino, Amador County is known for its Zinfandel, one of America’s favorite grapes. Join the tasting as they uncover the unique characteristics of the 2016 EASTON Amador County Zinfandel, a tribute to the heritage and revival of old vines. Learn about the age of old vines, explore the wine’s color and aroma, and dive into its structure and flavor profile. Discover why Amador County is a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts and immerse yourself in the fascinating world of wine.

As the tasting continues, Wine Folly reveals that the Zinfandel they are sampling is from the 2016 vintage, produced by EASTON, a winery that values classic style, balance, and dryness in their wines. Located in Amador County, about two hours east of San Francisco, this region offers stunning fall colors and picturesque landscapes. Bill Easton himself invites you to experience the beauty of Amador County and taste their exceptional Zinfandel firsthand. So, if you’re curious about the world of wine and want to explore more captivating episodes, make sure to subscribe to Wine Folly’s channel and become a member of the Wine Folly club. Cheers to learning through tasting, and may your wine adventures continue to bring joy and discovery.


Welcome to the world of Amador County wines, where the rich history and the art of winemaking converge. In this article, we will take you on a journey through the stunning region of Amador County, renowned for its exceptional old vine wines. We will delve into the significance of old vines in producing high-quality wines and explore the unique characteristics that make these wines truly extraordinary. Get ready to discover the captivating stories, flavors, and landscapes of Amador County’s winemaking heritage.

Exploring Old Vine Wines

To understand the allure of Amador County wines, it is essential to grasp the concept of old vines. Old vines are cherished for their ability to produce wines of remarkable complexity, depth, and character. While there is no standard definition for “old vine,” it generally refers to vines that are at least 35 years old. These vines have had the time to mature, develop deep root systems, and establish a unique connection with the terroir.

Several factors contribute to the quality of old vine wines. Firstly, the deep roots of these vines allow them to access nutrients, water, and minerals deep within the soil, resulting in more intense and nuanced flavors. Additionally, as old vines produce fewer grapes, the focus and energy of the plant are concentrated on the remaining fruit, resulting in more concentrated flavors. Furthermore, old vines are often more resistant to diseases and pests, reducing the need for chemical intervention and creating a more sustainable and environmentally conscious approach to winemaking.

Old vine wines exhibit common characteristics that set them apart from other wines. These include intense flavors, balanced acidity, elegant tannins, and a sense of harmony and complexity. They often display exceptional aging potential, allowing them to evolve and develop new dimensions of flavor over time. Old vine wines are truly a testament to the craftsmanship of winemakers and the unique expression of the terroir they come from.

Learn by Tasting: Exploring Old Vine Wines in Amador County

Amador County: A Wine Region to Discover

Located in the Sierra Foothills, east of Napa and Sonoma, Amador County has a storied history in Californian winemaking. It was in the late 1800s, just after the gold rush, that the region saw its first vineyards planted. The pioneers of Amador County recognized the potential of the land for winemaking and set the stage for a rich winemaking tradition that continues to this day.

Amador County holds particular significance for Zinfandel, one of America’s favorite grape varieties before Prohibition. The region is home to numerous old vineyards, some of which date back over a century. These old vines, planted with Italian-inspired grapes like Barbera and Vermentino, produce wines that evoke a sense of nostalgia and pay homage to the heritage of winemaking.

One of the distinguishing features of Amador County is its unique terroir. The region’s high-elevation vineyards, nestled in the Sierra Foothills, benefit from cooler nights that allow the grapes to rejuvenate and develop vibrant flavors. The mountainous landscape and volcanic and granitic soils add complexity to the wines, creating a truly distinctive taste profile.

Old Vineyards in Amador County

Amador County boasts a rich tapestry of old vineyards, each with its own story and contribution to the region’s winemaking heritage. These vineyards serve as a testament to the resilience and dedication of the winemakers who have nurtured them for generations.

Italian-inspired grapes have found a home in Amador County’s old vineyards. Barbera, a juicy red grape, thrives in the region’s Mediterranean-like climate, producing wines with bright acidity and luscious fruit flavors. Vermentino, a green herbal white grape, adds a refreshing and vibrant element to Amador County’s wine offerings.

However, it is Zinfandel that takes center stage in Amador County’s winemaking history. The region was the first to cultivate Zinfandel in California, and it remains an iconic grape for the region. Zinfandel from old vines, with its concentrated fruit and unique combination of ripeness and freshness, has become synonymous with the winemaking excellence of Amador County.

Learn by Tasting: Exploring Old Vine Wines in Amador County

Tasting and Analyzing Old Vine Wines

Tasting old vine wines is an experience that allows you to appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry involved in their creation. To fully grasp the nuances and complexities of these wines, it is important to follow a step-by-step process that engages all your senses.

Begin by examining the wine’s color. Old vine wines often display a medium garnet color, indicative of their maturity and depth. Take note of the legs or tears that form on the sides of the glass, which can provide insight into the wine’s viscosity and alcohol content.

Next, bring the glass to your nose and inhale deeply. Old vine wines reveal a multitude of aromas, ranging from raspberry tart and dried fall leaves to black tea and black currant. The presence of aged aromas, such as dried leaves and vanilla from oak aging, adds complexity and depth to the wine.

Now it’s time to analyze the wine’s structure. As you take a sip, pay attention to its body, acidity, and tannins. Old vine wines are often full-bodied, with a powerful palate of dark fruits. The combination of ripe yet structured tannins showcases the craftsmanship of the winemaker, and the elevated alcohol content is in line with the particular variety of the grape.

Considering all these factors, it becomes clear that the wine in your glass is likely a Zinfandel from Amador County. Only Zinfandel, especially from old vines, can offer such a unique balance of ripeness, freshness, and concentrated fruit. Its ability to thrive in Amador County’s mountain vineyards is a testament to the region’s winemaking potential.

The Easton Amador County Zinfandel

Among the renowned wines of Amador County, the 2016 Easton Amador County Zinfandel holds a special place. Produced by Easton Winery, which is part of Terar Rouge Winery, this Zinfandel is a tribute to the heritage and revival of old vines.

Easton Winery, located in Amador County, focuses on creating wines in the classic style that are balanced, dry, and imbued with spicy flavors. The 2016 vintage of the Easton Amador County Zinfandel is drinking particularly well right now, showcasing the meticulous craftsmanship of the winemaker.

Upon tasting this Zinfandel, expect to be greeted by powerful and mature flavors. The wine displays a medium garnet color and reveals intense aromas of raspberry tart, dried fall leaves, black tea, black currant, and a hint of vanilla. Its full-bodied structure, fresh acidity, and powerful palette of dark fruits exemplify the exceptional quality of Amador County’s old vine Zinfandels.

Learn by Tasting: Exploring Old Vine Wines in Amador County

Visiting Amador County for Wine Enthusiasts

For wine enthusiasts who crave an immersive experience, a visit to Amador County is a must. The region offers a wealth of attractions and activities that cater to wine lovers and provide a deeper understanding of the winemaking process.

Explore the picturesque landscapes and geographical features that define Amador County. With its higher elevation and mountain vineyards, the region offers breathtaking views and a unique microclimate that contributes to the distinctive flavors of the wines. You’ll have the opportunity to witness the fall colors that adorn the hillsides and truly appreciate the beauty of this winemaking destination.

Guided tours and tastings in Amador County wineries offer a comprehensive and educational insight into the winemaking process. Connect with passionate winemakers, learn about their techniques and philosophies, and taste the exceptional wines they produce. These experiences provide a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship involved in creating each bottle and allow you to discover hidden gems within the region.

Furthermore, exploring the unique terroir of Amador County is essential to understanding the flavors and characteristics of the wines. Take the time to visit the volcanic and granitic red soils that contribute to the complexity of the wines. Walk through the vineyards and feel the connection between the land and the vines, an essential element in the creation of high-quality wines.

Join the Wine Folly Club

For those who want to further their exploration of old vine wines and expand their wine knowledge, joining the Wine Folly Club is an opportunity not to be missed. Becoming a member opens the door to a world of exclusive wines and educational content that will deepen your appreciation for the art of winemaking.

As a member of the Wine Folly Club, you will gain access to hand-picked wines that are carefully selected to showcase the diversity and excellence of the wine world. These wines, including exceptional old vine wines, will allow you to expand your palate and discover hidden gems from various regions.

In addition to exclusive wines, the Wine Folly Club offers a wealth of educational resources. Dive into the world of wine through informative articles, videos, and tutorials that cover everything from tasting techniques to winemaking processes. Expand your knowledge and become a true connoisseur.


In conclusion, Amador County stands as a testament to the power of old vine wines and the captivating world of winemaking. The history and heritage of this region, combined with its unique terroir, create an environment that fosters the production of exceptional wines.

By exploring Amador County’s old vineyards and tasting the exquisite wines they produce, you will embark on a sensory journey filled with complexity, richness, and history. Whether you are a seasoned wine enthusiast or a curious novice, Amador County offers an opportunity to appreciate the unique flavors and stories behind each bottle.

So, raise your glass and join us in celebrating the remarkable old vine wines of Amador County. May your explorations bring you joy, knowledge, and a deeper appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship that make these wines truly exceptional. Cheers to the flavors of the past and the wonders of the present!