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Tuesday, 26 April 2016 13:41

Amador County's Five Springtime Finds

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wildflowers at Volcano3 PicmonkeyWildflowers at Volcano

TASTE News Service, April 26, 2016 — The small towns of the Sierra Nevada foothills are inviting all year round, but springtime reveals a bounty of natural and culinary spectacles to Amador County. This low-key county tends to stay out of the limelight, but lately it has been catching the eye of discerning travelers for its spectacular spring colors and an array of fine wines and foods. Below are just five of the many reasons to visit Amador County now.

Wildflowers – The little town of Volcano well known for Daffodil Hill, an expansive alpine hillside that comes alive with tens of thousands of blooming bulbs each spring. While the property's flowers have peaked and the area is now closed, the region is still thriving with the bright blooms of wildflowers. Explorers will find an abundance of lupines, lilies, and frying pan poppies among other striking pops of color throughout the area. The banks of Mokelumne River and Wilderness Area are currently bursting with brilliant hues while the higher elevations are welcoming the first vibrant blooms of dogwoods. Midsummer sees even more color through Carson Pass, from Silver Lake to Hope Valley.

Bird Migration – Large and diverse number of birds can be spied in the various mountains, meadows and lakes throughout Amador. Eagles, ospreys, warblers, and woodpeckers can be found amongst striking blue skies and towering oaks and pines. Avid birdwatchers claim there are thousands of great locations and perches to take in the menagerie of winged beauties. One needs only a pair of binoculars, a field guide, and a journal to track the countless species that find their way to Amador every spring. Popular spots include Pardee Reservoir, Lake Camanche, and Lake Tabeud.

Paella PicmonkeyPaella is popular at Amador Four FiresFood and Wine Events – With scores of wineries and tasting rooms nestled throughout the area, Amador County is replete with wine and culinary adventures. The Barbera Festival is undoubtedly a favorite among locals and visitors alike. This sixth annual event celebrates the area's deep connection to and rich history of Barbera. The June 11 event takes place at Terra d'Oro Winery/Montevina Vineyards. Zins on Horizon at Deaver Vineyards (April 29) is a unique blind tasting of Deaver's Zinfandels. The winery's lakeside picnic grounds also serves as the setting for an unforgettable Mother's Day Brunch or Memorial Day concert.

The Amador Four Fires Festival is an immersive food and wine event featuring seminars, cooking demos, locavore tastings, and an art walk. The Sat., May 7, event takes place at the historic Amador County Fairgrounds and is a great alternative for treating mom to a special outing on Mother's Day weekend.

The region further showcases its international flair with the Italian Picnic Wine & Olive Oil Tasting June 4-5 at the Italian Picnic Grounds in Sutter Creek. The weekend includes a carnival, bocce, cart exhibit, and grand parade.

Farm to Table – It's a season of senses in this Sierra foothill destination. While the wildflowers delight the eyes, local produce serves to sate discerning palates. A plethora of farms supply Amador County's numerous fine restaurants with a bounty of seasonal ingredients. Plymouth's Taste Restaurant showcases local ingredients in its baby kale salad with strawberries, chevre, and toasted hazelnuts. Other fresh produce featured in local chefs' creations include fava beans, asparagus, and spring lamb. The June 18 Farm-to-Fork Dinner and Summer Celebration at Abbondanza Farm in the Shenandoah Valley is spearheaded by Mother Lode Harvest, the area's multi-farm outlet. The evening showcases the abundance of locally produced foods via a Mediterranean-inspired dinner.

Breathtaking Venues –There's no better time to be outside, so whether it's a concert, wedding, or intimate gathering of friends, Amador County's outdoor venues attract those looking to celebrate in the most scenic of settings.

Helwig Winery in Plymouth opens up its outdoor pavilion, featuring 360-degree views of the surrounding vineyards and Shenandoah Valley. The doors are open every Friday night May through September with live music. The nearby Terra d'Oro Winery is home to a serene meadow shaded by towering oaks. The popular spot is home to a handful of private and public events.

Editor’s note: For more information about events and activities in Amador County, go to www.touramador.com. The Gold Country section of Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory is also useful. There you will find links to the websites of Lodging and Dining options, as well as those of Sierra Foothill wineries.

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