Nestled in the Sierra Nevada’s historic Gold Rush region, Amador County is a year round playground – ski and snow board in the winter; raft white water and pick luscious fruit in the spring and summer. Pan gold whenever you’re feeling lucky. And, enjoy delicious wine every month of the year.
Amador County is packed with history, beauty and friendly people. Spanish for “one who loves,” the area was named for the gold miner who created a successful mining camp near what is now Amador City in the 1850s. Home to some of the most lucrative mines, the area now boasts historic towns that have maintained their authentic charm.
During a weekend jaunt, my husband and I toured the County (which stretches out along Highway 49) stopping in Plymouth, Amador City and the lush Shenandoah Valley. Here’s what we found.
STAY: In the once booming town of Amador City, discover the Imperial Hotel. Opened in 1879, this gem has been restored to its original luster. Our second floor front room had high ceilings, brick walls and French doors that opened to a grand porch. From here, we had close-up views of Main Street and the hills.
The rooms are cozy and offer a glimpse of what it might have been like to stay in one of the Mother Lode towns during an earlier, historic era. Today, guests at this friendly Bed & Breakfast focus on visiting nearby vineyards while exploring the past.
DINE: The Amador Vintage Market, in the center of Plymouth, is the place for a wine country experience. You can choose to eat in or get all sorts of goodies to take out. The interior space in the historic building combines an open dining/beer/wine and gourmet foods area with the kitchen and deli.
Alongside Highway 49 in the midst of acres of vineyards, we unwrapped our picnic and savored these homemade favorites: A classic Panini (grilled focaccia stuffed with fresh Mozzarella, basil pesto, balsamic onions and tomatoes) and the curried chicken salad (delicious chunks of breast meat, grapes, celery, almonds – all combined with a curry mayonnaise). Don’t miss the cookies.
Back in Amador City, the Imperial Hotel is home to the Saloon & Restaurant. The bar and creaky wood plank floor are all reminiscent of the high times during the Gold Rush. The restaurant serves whatever is straight from the local gardens. As a guest at the Inn, you’re greeted each morning with a homemade breakfast like our luscious egg strata.
For dinner, we had the spicy Mexican shrimp to start and then the grilled lamb chops –both tender and flavorful – paired with local wines including the 2008 Corinne Mourvèdre and the 2011 Nine Gables Mission Old Vine. Afterwards, all we had to do was walk upstairs to our room.
Early in the day, find everyone at Andrae’s Bakery.
Amador Tourism Council; Amador Vintners Association
PATTY BURNESS can be found @pattygb