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Tasting Gold in Calaveras Wine Country

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

SFCWC Public Tasting | 2018

An area known for its history of gold-rich hills, Calaveras County boasts plenty of gold, silver and bronze too! Finding precious metals here is a bit harder these days unless we’re talking about wine. You can stop your digging now because we’re here to tell you where to find precious “medals” in Calaveras Wine Country. 

The San Francisco Chronicles' wine competition is the biggest in the world. Starting out as the Cloverdale Citrus Fair in 1983 with only 45 entries from 15 wineries, it has grown to over 6,800 entries this year from over 1,132 wineries. With 64 professional judges overseeing the competition, it includes the most extensive list of winners across all categories. Even with the numerous entries only a select few can win. 

We like to call Calaveras Wine Country a "wine-lovers best-kept secret", but with many of our wineries being recognized nationally, the secret is getting harder to keep. 

So, here’s where you can sip and buy Calaveras Wine Country’s award winning wines:

Black Sheep Winery

2016 Zinfandel - Calaveras County - Gold

Winemaker Steve Milliaire, and Black Sheep Wines have a long-standing history of great Zinfandel. This varietal happened to be the first batch of grapes ever purchased by what is now Black Sheep Winery back in 1984. The grapes hadn't been sold yet and needed to be turned into wine, thus creating Black Sheep's first vintage. They used a small gasoline powered Zambelli crusher and an antique wooden wine press. This press is now on display at the winery. A sheepish start with homeless grapes and borrowed equipment was the beginning to over 30 years of Zinfandel mastery.

Villa Vallecito Vineyards 

2015 Sagrantino - Gold

Winemaker Nathan Vader grew up in a large ranching family in Colorado, and moved to Calaveras in his teens. Sticking close to the process in every step of the grapes' cycle, Nathan's style of winemaking is a true totem of Calaveras Terroir. His own brand, Vina Moda, also took home three Gold Medals this year. Sagrantino is a grape varietal that produces some of the highest tannins. Luckily, Calaveras County weather and soil profiles are ideal combinations for softening these grapes and bring out some amazing flavors that otherwise might be missed, and Nathan's expertise helps with that too!

Renner Wines - Aloria Vineyards

2016 Petite Sirah - GOLD - $32

Aloria Vineyards (new owners of Renner Winery) grows 3.3 acres of Petite Sirah every year for their Estate Wines. Calaveras County Terroir introduces excitingly unique characteristics to this well-known varietal. A softer mouthfeel due to milder tannins from temperature drops in the evenings, bringing out a black berry jam tartness. Positioned high above the New Melones reservoir, Aloria Vineyards gets soft cooling breezes off of the lake in the evening, allowing this Petite Sirah to boast its award-winning taste.

Where to find all award winners

Not everyone can win gold every year, but silver and bronze in a competition this big is an honor. Here's where to find other awesome award winners from this year's competition:

Black Sheep Winery - 2015 Amador County Zinfandel - $22.00 Silver

Frog's Tooth Winery - 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - $48.00 Silver

Frog's Tooth Winery - 2015 Russian River Valley - Desmond Vineyards -$58.00 Silver

Frog's Tooth Winery-2016 Matagrano Vineyard Sangiovese - $42.00 Silver

Frog's Tooth Winery- Sierra Foothills Barbera - $34.00 Silver

Frog's Tooth Winery- 2016 Sierra Foothills Syrah -$36.00 Silver

Frog's Tooth Winery- 2016 California Serendipity - $42.00 Silver

Ironstone Vineyards - 2017 California Chenin Blanc - $13.99 Silver

Ironstone Vineyards - 2017 Mokelumne River Old Vines Zinfandel - $13.99 Silver

Ironstone Vineyards - 2016 Lodi Petite Sirah - $11.99 Silver

Jazz Cellars - 2017 Mendocino Bonfiglio Vineyard Rhapsody - $33.00 Silver

Milliaire Vineyard Selections - 2016 Mokelumne River Pinot Noir - $28.00 Silver

Milliaire Vineyard Selections - 2015 Calaveras Cabernet Sauvignon - $30.00 Silver

Val du Vino Winery - 2016 Sierra Foothills Old Vine Zinfandel - $32.00 Silver

Villa Vallecito Vineyards - 2016 Calaveras County Chardonnay - $26.00 Silver

Villa Vallecito Vineyards - 2016 Sierra Foothills Barbera - $38.00 Silver

Villa Vallecito Vineyards - 2015 Calaveras County Reserve Barbera - $38.00 Silver

Villa Vallecito Vineyards - 2014 Calaveras County Reserve Barbera - $38.00 Silver

Villa Vallecito Vineyards - 2016 Calaveras County Syrah - $32.00 Silver

Villa Vallecito Vineyards - 2016 Calaveras County Grenache $38.00 Silver

Villa Vallecito Vineyards - 2016 Sierra Foothills Cabernet Sauvignon - $38.00 Silver

Villa Vallecito Vineyards - 2015 Calaveras County Cabernet Sauvignon - $35.00 Silver

Villa Vallecito Vineyards - 2016 Calaveras County Payaso - $35.00 Silver

Black Sheep Winery - 2015 Calaveras County Cabernet Franc - $18.00 Bronze

Black Sheep Winery - 2014 Calaveras CountyDusty Lane Cinsaut - $24.00 Bronze

Frog's Tooth Winery - 2015 Sierra Foothills Petite Sirah - $36.00 Bronze

Ironstone Vineyards - 2017 Lodi Chardonnay - $11.99 Bronze

Ironstone Vineyards - 2017 Mokelumne River Cabernet Sauvignon - $13.99 Bronze

Jazz Cellars - 2015 Santa Lucia Highlands Doctors Vineyard Pinot Noir - $55.00 Bronze

Jazz Cellars - 2016 Amador County Hannah's Vineyard Barbera - $32.00 Bronze

Jazz Cellars - 2015 Carneros Las Madres Vineyard Syrah - $39.00 Bronze

Milliaire Vineyard Selections - 2017 Santa Barbara Gewurtztraminer - $20.00 Bronze

Milliaire Vineyard Selections - 2015 Amador Clockspring Zinfandel - $26.00 Bronze

Plan your trip to Calaveras Wine Country and be sure to enjoy some award winning wines along the way. Check out our Explore and Visit pages to see a full list of wineries, download tasting room and restaurant maps, and reserve your weekend lodging and fun activities!


The Calaveras Wine Alliance is dedicated to increasing the awareness of all wines produced in Calaveras County and/or produced from Calaveras grapes. We are Calaveras County families that are making some of the most exciting wines in California’s historic Sierra Foothills region. Our roots run deep! | 209-728-9467 |


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