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The Impact of Terroir in El Dorado Wine Country

The elevated terroir of the El Dorado Wine Region is located in the Sierra Foothills. Most of the 1400 acres of vineyards are planted between 2000 and 3000 feet above sea level. The majority of these vines are split up amongst small, family owners.

The topsoil is thin and is laden with granite deposits. It has very little organic material and is therefore very unfertile. This soil profile is typical in AVAs located in the Sierra Foothills. At higher altitudes, the soils are very acidic and primarily volcanic. These characteristics lead to stressed vines with low, flavorful output.

Breezes from the Sierra Nevada Mountains cool higher elevations of the AVA considerably, leading to more acid and less tannins. Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Barbera and Petite Sirah the most widely planted red varietals at these higher elevations.

El Dorado County Zinfandels to be lighter-bodied than those from the lower Amador County (Fiddletown and Shenandoah Valley AVAs). Clos La Chance makes a very good example of this style of Zin.

El Dorado Cabernet Franc does very well as a single varietal wine- relatively rare in California. Syrah, Barbera and Petite Sirah are very complex and have markedly high acidity which is to my personal liking. Gewurztraminer and Riesling have also turned heads in this part of the region. They make beautifully delicate wines.

The Impact of Terroir in El Dorado Wine Country

The Fair Play AVA is located entirely within El Dorado and has the highest average elevation of any wine producing region in California. Chenin Blanc, Petite Syrah, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and Cabernet Sauvignon are grown at lower elevations of the parent AVA.