Terra d’Oro Winery

About

For more than 150 years, fortune seekers have been lured to California’s rugged Sierra Foothills. Though they once came for the gold, these days they come for the wine—Terra d’Oro, to be more specific. Handcrafted from some of Amador County’s most historic vineyards, Terra d’Oro wines are rich indeed, full of the character and intensity that perfectly captures the essence of this "Land of Gold."

Location Description

Terra d’Oro is two miles up Shenandoah School Road on the right side.

Additional Information

  • Meeting / Conference Facilities:
  • Caves:
  • Wedding Facilities:
  • Picnic Facilities:
  • Dog Friendly:
  • Winery Tours:
  • Wine Tasting:
  • Art or Architecture:
  • Organic / Biodynamic:
  • Awards:
  • Wine Club:
  • Lodging / Bed & Breakfast:

History

Both gold and grapes arrived in Amador County at almost exactly the same time. Fortune-seekers flocked here during the 1850s, attracted by the discovery of the famous “Mother Lode”. Many of these prospectors chose to plant vineyards instead, first to satisfy the thirst of thousands of miners and later to make a living after the mines began to run dry. By the 1890s, the foothill region had over 100 wineries (more than any other region in California).

By 1920 most of the gold mines had closed and Prohibition laws compelled wineries to shut their doors. This region was revived in 1970, when a young winemaker named Cary Gott and his father-in-law, Walter Field, established Montevina Winery. As the first new post-Prohibition winery in the Sierra Foothills, Montevina helped to return both Amador County and Zinfandel to the attention of fine wine aficionados everywhere and to remake the Sierra Nevada foothills as one of the best wine regions around.

Practices & Techniques

Sustainable agriculture integrates three goals: environmental health, economic profitability and social and economic equity. Reducing the need for pesticides, for example, helps achieve the first two. A little ingenuity can replace a lot of nasty chemicals. That’s why the “weeds” between vine rows are actually carefully selected and seeded cover crops like clover, oats, peas and vetch. These leguminous plants help fix nitrogen from the air to “fertilize” the soil and grow tall enough in the spring to attract good bugs that feed on bad bugs harmful to newly budded vines. We’ve also built owl boxes to encourage these nocturnal hunters to stick around and keep down the critter population.

The Land:

Amador County has been the home to superior Zinfandel for over a century. Zinfandel came to Amador County in the wagons of Italian immigrants during the California Gold Rush. The Mother Lode was rich with gold and teeming with thirsty pioneers. After the boom, Amador’s population numbers collapsed like an old mine shaft and many of Amador’s Zinfandel vineyards were replaced with prune and walnut orchards. Luckily, there was enough demand for Zinfandel that some of the original vineyards remain today.

Farming:

Today, Terra d’Oro winery utilizes sustainable farming practices and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in much of our 400 acres of vineyards. The vines are rooted in shallow topsoil above rocky granite hardpan on a series of gentle slopes between 1,300 and 1,600 feet in elevation. Hot summer days and cool nights ensure that our grapes achieve full ripeness and maximum concentration of flavors. For over three decades, Terra d’Oro has been a pioneer in the development of superior Zinfandel.

Approach:

More recently the winery has played a pivotal role in the exploration of cloning, with small blocks of vineyards planted to ten different Zinfandel clones. Our efforts have led to a partnership the University of California Extention program, as well as the Amador County Vitner’s Association, and the combined research is yielding new and unprecedented results in the world of Zinfandel…Zinfandel is our focus and our passion.

Estate Vineyards / AVA

We are blessed with the ability to farm three distinct vineyards: Home and the historical Deaver Vineyard. Each parcel has its own unique characteristics and yields such wonderfully different styles of Zinfandel. We are also very fortunate that all our vineyards are in close proximity to our winery which helps during the harvest. The name Terra d’Oro means “Land of Gold”…which pretty much sums it up.

Home Vineyard:

Planted in 1977---3.68 Acres---100% Sustainable

Vineyard Notes: The Vineyard, in its entirety, was grafted over to Zinfandel in 1994 on the susceptible rootstock AxR. It is the only Zin vineyard owned that is bilateral cordon trained and used for red wine production. The vineyard is surrounded by mature Valley Oaks with deep roots that monopolize the water supply, thus making it necessary to harvest the outer vines first and continue in a doughnut pattern.

Clonal Information: The vineyard is planted in what is called the “Heritage” clone, which produces fruit with very unique characteristics. Unlike traditional Zinfandel, these clusters are very loose with round berries, allowing the grapes to ripen in a much more uniform manner. The Heritage clone also produces wines with exceptionally soft, lush structure that is more characteristic of a Sonoma Valley Zinfandel than an Amador County wine.

Soil Notes: Receiving a pronounced southwest sun exposure, the soil is unique for Amador County. It is much more alluvial in nature than our other vineyards. It lacks the signature red hue that is traditionally a result of large iron components, typical of Amador soil.

Deaver Vineyard:

Planted in 1881----Approximately 23 Acres

Vineyard Notes: The Deaver Vineyard has a horseshoe-shaped ridge that runs though the vineyard, with a swale in the middle of that horseshow. That swale produces a crop that is harvested separately due to the soil depth yielding different complexities in the fruit. The wines are al head trained which has been most effective with Zinfandel because it gives the fruit excellent sun exposure.

Clonal Information: This vineyard is one of the original plantings in Amador County and the vines have served as the parent cuttings for a majority of other vineyards in the region. The Deaver acreage is iconic when discussing Amador Zinfandel, as it continues to produce rich fruit with amazing concentration, character and Shenandoah spice.

Soil Notes: The soil on the ridge of this field is very shallow and rocky, with lots of clay in it and a large iron component, which is a characteristic of many Shenandoah Valley vineyards.

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Hours

Terra d’Oro Winery is open daily from 10:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. for tasting, retail sales and general delight.

Address

20680 Shenandoah School Road
Plymouth, California 95669
United States

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