On Saturday Alan and I drove up to Amador Valley to pick up two cases of Zinfandel futures from Story Winery and to visit a couple of other places while we were up there. The weather was supposed to be temps in the high 50s with some clouds. Hah! From the time we left until we got to Story, the highest temp we saw was 48 degrees. Oh, and it was misty for the entire drive. While we were at Story the skies opened up for a bit and it was sunny for about 25 minutes, but then the sun darted behind the clouds and it was cold and gray once again. By the time we got home to Oakland it was actually raining quite heavily.
In addition to Story, we visited Wilderotter Vineyard and Cooper Winery & Vineyards, two places we hadn't been but I'd read good things about. We really enjoyed our experience at Wilderotter as the man pouring our wine was very knowledgeable and very personable. He also lived in Oakland for 35 years before moving up there, so I think the fact that we were veritable neighbors might have helped. The wines were incredibly balanced and because of the region and climate not what you'd get in Napa or Sonoma. Because we'd picked up two cases just a few minutes earlier we only bought a couple of bottles, but will likely make sure to get more in the future.
After Wilderotter we visited Cooper, which had an absolutely beautiful location set far off the main road in farmland (unfortunately I failed to get any pictures for some reason). We liked the wines well enough and the tasting room is gorgeous - it'd make a great location for a group tasting (which we saw in progress while we were there). There we also picked up a couple of bottles before heading back home. Before we could get to the highway though, we encountered a herd of sheep being led back to their pen. I told you we were in farmland!
If you're thinking about visiting the area, I strongly recommend you stop off at these three wineries as you'll get exposure to not only the Zinfandel the area is known for, but a lot of the less common Spanish and French varietals as well.
While we spent four hours on the road for what amounted to a three hour trip, it was still great to get out of the house and out of town to spend some time together.