Fish should be served with white wine, pasta should be served with red, but whitewater goes with them all! The American River Valley isn’t just for rafting – it’s also rich with wineries and vineyards to please the palate and ensnare the senses. If you have any senses left after the first tasting, that is!
Nestled in the Sierra foothills, the altitude is perfect for nearly 50 grape varieties and the warm, sunny days and cool California nights provide an excellent climate for growing grapes. The sweeping views from the steep hillsides where the grapes are grown will also leave you dizzy with joy.
The American River Valley’s winemaking industry began with the California Gold Rush. Prospectors flocked to the area in droves and boy, were they thirsty! By 1870, this was the third largest wine region in the state. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t remain so for long.
The gold ran out and the 49ers went home, their sad heads hung low. The population decreased, the economy tanked, and by the time prohibition arrived in 1920, the bottom had fallen out of the entire industry.
People here are nothing if not resilient, though, and by the 1960s a resurgence had begun. Today, the American River Valley features more than 2,000 acres of vines and is home to about 50 wineries. Popular local offerings include Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Gold Hill Vineyard produces gold-medal-winning Bordeaux wines and David Girard Vineyards has earned multiple awards for their varied offerings. Boeger Winery is a local favorite with several historic outbuildings leftover from the wine heydays of the 1870s. Sierra Vista and Holly’s Hill vineyards round out the area’s must-visit list.
Wine is a big thing in the American River Valley. And here, it’s made by people who know and love what they do. Tastings are offered daily and an area vineyard map can be found here. The settings are picturesque, the vino is amazing, and the people are friendly. There’s no need to deal with the traffic in Napa when you can find wine that is just as good (and sometimes better!) right here.
Celebrate at one of these amazing vineyards after your next American Whitewater rafting trip! You can even take a bottle home to remind you of your day. Heck, take a case home. We don’t judge!