On our recent trip with visiting family to Amador’s Wine Country we discovered another winery that is the perfect escape from the city. Helwig Winery is located right in Plymouth, CA and about a 30-45 drive from Sacramento. Our favorite time of year to visit this region is during spring when it isn’t too hot and views of rolling hillsides and flowers are everywhere.
Helwig Winery is a new, state-of-the-art winery located in the heart of picturesque Shenandoah Valley. The tasting room and other winery buildings offer unique modern architecture and a relaxed country vibe that instantly transports you to somewhere other than wherever you came from that day. Outside patios with incredible spanning vista views are available for picnicing and taking a bottle of wine to savor.
Almost every other tasting group at Helwig the day we went included babies and young children. It was nice to see families taking in wine country in a tot-friendly environment. The winery offers multiple tasting experiences including cave tours and concerts are hosted at the winery pavillion throughout the summer months. The winery asks that tots under the age of 14 not join their parents in the tasting room or on cave tours. Since the winery does host events and weddings, calling ahead to make sure the picnic area is available is advised.
Viognier, Zinfandel and Syrah are some of the most widely acclaimed wines from Helwig and we took home a bottle of library Syrah to have with grilled hamburgers and spinach strawberry salad that evening.
Helwig Winery is located at 11555 Shenandoah Rd., Plymouth , CA and is open seven days a week from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm. Advance reservations are required for Cave Tours and Tasting groups of 6 or more. Parking is a large paved lot and restrooms are available along with covered picnic areas.
Last weekend I spent the whole weekend doing a photography project for the El Dorado Winery Association and got to drive around the backroads of El Dorado County capturing the fun surrounding this yearly event. There are over 50 wineries in the El Dorado AVA with over 2,000 acres of vines planted. The El Dorado AVA was established in 1983 Established in 1983 and includes those portions of El Dorado County located between 1,200 and 3,500 feet in elevation and 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 2,600,000-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. Getting to represent this wine region that is located so close to our home was such a fun adventure!
El Dorado wine country isn’t easy to find unless you know where you are going and that’s part of what keeps this region quieter than other wine growing areas of California. Wineries are mostly family-owned and have a warm welcoming approach to selling wine directly to the consumer instead of through the sales pipelines of larger wine operations. Expect small crowds and sometimes to be the only visitors are more hidden wineries in the area.
The wines here have intense flavors and deep colors due to the mountain vineyards on steep hillsides with warm summer days and cool night air. It’s an environment that gives wines luscious fruit, an alluring balance, gentle tannins, and body and depth that is different than wines from other regions. My favorite wines from El Dorado Wineries are the full-bodied Chardonnays and deep intense reds like Cabernet and Zinfandel.
One of the characteristics that we like about El Dorado wineries is that there are many wineries thet are child-friendly and encourage picnicking, hiking and spending time with the entire family. Since we live so close to the wineries they make a fun weekend destination that we don’t have to leave the kids behind to experience. Visitor guides are available on the El Dorado Winery Association website along with a list of the wineries in the El Dorado AVA.
El Nino has definitely come to visit our part of California this month. After a balmy February we have been getting daily drenchings of much needed rain. Our weekend plans got cancelled because of the incoming storm so we are getting some inside projects done instead like getting our spring plants for our garden and starting some summer seeds in our kitchen window.
For anyone that was planning on attending the Farm Fresh to you Capay Farm Tour this weekend like we were. It is cancelled. Another event is scheduled for next month.
Here are some other recipes we are trying and ideas we are obsessing over this weekend
Getting ready for our Spring Break trip to San Francisco and finding all the activities for the crew of kids we are traveling with
Obsessing over where and how we can find ourselves a vacation cabin worthy of Cabin Porn
Picture is from our trip to Skinner Vineyards & Winery last month. Their wood burning fireplace outside is the best place to sip wine and visit with friends. Look for our review of tot-friendly winery trips later this month.