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Amador County: The Heart of the Mother Lode

Amador County: The Heart of the Mother Lode

By Mackenzie Hutson
May 21, 2019

The only county in California named after a California native, Amador County is famous for its rolling hills, Gold Rush history, and expansive wine-growing regions. Located along the Sierra Nevada mountain range and bordered by the Cosumnes and Mokelumne Rivers, Amador County has a variety of elevations that range from 250 feet to nearly 9,000 feet, offering ideal climates for both skiing and growing wine grapes.

Amador County was originally known for its location in the heart of Gold Country and for its namesake, José María Amador—a wealthy ranchero and the owner of hundreds of acres as well as a gold mining camp near Amador City. The nearby Drytown was the first established northern town, which found success during the Gold Rush but struggled in the following years until the State Route 49 was introduced in 1920.

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The Amador County of today has grown away from its Gold Rush roots to provide some of the best experiences in all of California. Ski down Kirkwood’s powder-coated slopes, dine at local eateries serving farm-fresh fare, camp in the Eldorado National Forest, and sip a glass of wine in one of the 40 wineries and tasting rooms.

While Amador County only produces about 1% of California's wine grapes, it has won 30 percent of the gold medals presented during state wine competitions. Since the county boasts two American Viticultural Areas and 600 acres of vines aged at least 60 years, it’s easy to see why its old-vine Zinfandel and Barbera grapes produce some of the finest wines in California.

Drive through the county known as “The Heart of the Mother Lode” and sample old-vine wines to get a taste of history, enjoy a paddle on Lake Amador to find balance, and take a hike through the mountains to connect to the state’s rich mining history.

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