PLYMOUTH, Calif. (KTXL) – Green vines, scenic rolling hills and miles and miles of vineyards might make some think they’re back in Napa Valley but this is what wine country looks like in Amador County.
Fifty wineries cover thousands of acres in Amador, each one with a unique story and a special way of making their signature wines. But there’s only one that spreads across both El Dorado and Amador Counties with a sprightly 87-year-old at the helm.
“I make a whole bunch of wines, I make about 20 different wines in a year,” winemaker and proprietor C. G. Di Arie Vineyard and Winery Chaim Gur-Arieh said.
He’s also a flavor genius, having helped create some of America’s favorite snacks many couldn’t imagine growing up without.
“In my career, I was the Quaker Oats Company in Chicago… and I worked on a breakfast cereal, Captain Crunch that became an icon,” Gur-Arieh said.
Chaim also played a major role in growing brands like Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, Power Bar and wine coolers. So when it comes to great taste, he knows what he’s talking about.
Chaim and his wife, Elisheva, built this winery together more than two decades ago after immigrating from Israel through hard work and a little serendipity.
“As soon as I came through, as you enter the Shenandoah Valley, I said to Chaim ‘oh my gosh this is exactly the place that I was born, this is where I lived, this is how I grew up’,” Elisheva Gur-Arieh said. “I felt like the angels were calling me.”
“We wanted to get into the wine business, we were looking in Napa, we were looking elsewhere and other wine regions and it didn’t occur to us to look in the Sierra Foothills and this was an opportunity and we opened our eyes and said ‘wow, this is a fantastic place’,” Chaim Gur-Arieh said.
Chaim and Elisheva are big advocates for winemakers in a region they believe many people tend to overlook.
“I mean they’re missing a big opportunity; they’re not being open-minded,” Chaim Gur-Arieh said.
“We’re family-owned wineries, there isn’t a corporation here, you get to meet the owners, I think the prices for the wines are very affordable, and the experience is very close,” Elisheva Gur-Arieh said.
Very rarely do you ever get to do a wine tasting with the actual winemaker but here you can, an experience you can only find at one of the many family-owned wineries in Amador County.
Chaim and Elisheva also make wines tailored to certain organizations that go to help the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Capital Stage Theatre in Sacramento and they even have wine for a PBS station called Broadcast.
Tastings and tours can be booked on Di Arie’s website.