Guess what? There's this incredible wine growing American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the Sierra Foothills, California. And it's big…enormous. And its elevation is high. It’s the California AVA that looks down on all the others… in more ways than one.
Even though it became a legal AVA in 1987, wine grapes have been growing in this region since the nineteenth century, during the California Gold Rush (1848–1855). Hey, the miners needed wine too. Now, 160+ years later, there are over 100 wineries in the region.
The oldest documented Zinfandel vineyard in this region was the Grandpere Vineyard (now the Scott Harvey Wines Vineyard) in 1869. That's over 145 years old! And some vines are still producing. Talk about "Old Vine Zin." This vineyard dwarfs today's definition of "Old Vine."
Mariposa, California Foothills
The AVA takes up eight California counties: Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Tuolumne and Yuba, which totals 2,600,000 acres. YES, that's 2.6 MILLION acres, but only 5,700 acres are planted. The point here is the terroir (fancy term for the natural environment where a particular wine is produced) is all over the place.
This AVA is considered a Mediterranean Climate. Most of the vineyards are located between 1,500 to 3,000 feet elevation that creates a four-season climate. Something that's hard to find in California.
The soils are shallow, that places moderate stress on the vines, producing low to moderate yields and high quality. The soil fertility ranges from "relatively" fertile (Fair Play AVA) to grim, rugged, and mountainous (El Dorado AVA).
In the North Yuba AVA (located in the Sierra Foothills AVA) the average annual rainfall is 51 inches.
Multiple Clusters of Zinfandel Grapes, Hanging from the Vine
Amador County Vineyard, California