Behind the Cellar Door

Mustard in the Vineyards in Amador

Amador County’s Annual Wine Event Returns in 2021

Springtime in the Sierra Foothills wineries is a beautiful sight! Picture green lush grasses on the hills, wildflowers blooming, yellow mustard flowering, and grapevines waking up after a winter slumber. It is the time of year where Behind the Cellar Door welcomes wine enthusiasts from Northern California and Nevada regularly to this highly anticipated three-day event, which occurred the weekend of March 26-28, 2021.

Mustard in the Vineyards in Amador

Wine History in the Sierra Foothills

The history of wine in the Sierra Foothills and Amador County dates back to the 1800’s when prospectors were looking for gold and settlers were planting roots in the foothills. Many were from Europe and their love of wine didn’t change with the geography. Some of the oldest vines in California were planted by these early settlers. There is currently over 3,700 acres of vineyards planted, with over 55 wineries. While Zinfandel is the predominant grape of the area, winemakers and growers also produce a wide variety of other wines and grapes. Some of these include reds like Barbera, Syrah, Sangiovese, Grenache, and Petite Sirah; with whites such as Viognier, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Roussanne.

Behind the Cellar Door Amador glass

The capability to have the event is an encouraging sign for the year with the restrictions opening up and people returning to their favorite wineries and tasting rooms. One way the Amador Vintners Association (AVA) was able to invite wine lovers to experience their annual event, was to partner with CellarPass, a guest management solution for the hospitality and wine industries. It allows for a cap on the amount of people in one location for tastings, so all protocols are able to be met, as stated by the State of California at the time of the event. Guests are still able to navigate their own selected itineraries that are chosen in advance.

This year, Behind the Cellar Door 2021 hosted 1,200 participants, spread out over 37 wineries. Guests were able to meet winemakers, enjoyed carefully paired food bites with the wines, tasted barrel samples, and appreciated interactive educational experiences. Each participating winery offered something unique and memorable.

Some of the highlights from the Behind the Cellar Door weekend include these winery stops:

La Mesa Winery
La Mesa Winery

La Mesa Winery

A new winery to Amador, La Mesa, held their grand opening last year. The elevated vineyard views from the patio offer an ever-changing perspective of the newly planted vines. With a focus on a lighter and French style of winemaking, they feature Amador’s only Gamay currently. The Thai-inspired food pairings such as meatballs, mini egg rolls with spring vegetables, and chicken larb bites were specifically chosen to pair with the wines.


Next, we had to stop here. Steiner Road is home to many of the beloved wineries in the area. Rombauer, a highly-desired winery, paired a delightful food pairing box upon arrival with local restaurant, Taste. Bites included a ginger-infused Sierra Nevada Chévre cheese topped with apricot and chive, a Meyer lemon confit, and group favorite Taste steak sandwich made with a braised beef rillette.

Iron Hub Winery

Iron Hub Winery is always entertaining with lively and energetic descriptions of the wine presented by Elise. The snow-capped views Sierra Nevada mountains combined with the vineyards right beside the patio make for one of Amador’s most beautiful settings. Their hand-crafted small batch wines are carefully made with precision and care. It is no wonder why their award-winning wines are a foothill favorite.

Food from Behind the Cellar Door at Wilderotter Winery

Wilderotter Vineyard

Finally, a great winery to start or end your day with, with a close location to Plymouth is Wilderotter Vineyard. Their experience came with an artisan cheese plate that elevates the tasting. This is available when you stop in any time they are open for a tasting for $9 currently. Sit outside and you can relax with the vineyard views. Jay and Maggie Wilderotter purchased the land in 1990 and started their dream of owning a winery. With a wide selection of wines available to taste and purchase, you are guaranteed to find one you want to take home to enjoy later.

Events are Back!

In addition to Behind the Cellar Door, we are looking forward to experiencing other wine events in the area this year. Some to note are El Dorado’s Passport to Adventure in April and Placer Wine Trail’s Spring VIP Weekend in May. Wine regions are looking forward to welcoming wine lovers back through new or modified events. So take advantage and all in love with a new winery or wine varietal close to home!

La Mesa Winery in Amador
Red chairs in the vineyards at Wilderotter Winery during Behind the Cellar Door

Additional Links and Info:

Behind the Cellar Door
Amador Vintners Association

Want to learn about Zinfandel grapes?

Did you know September is Wine Month in California?

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