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2020 Winery of the Year – Terra D’Oro

January 28, 2022

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2020 Winery of the Year – Terra D’Oro

In deciding the Winery of the Year, we tend to look back at the past months and reflect on what we learned and experienced, and what we want to celebrate and remember. For 2020, the year of surprise, of ups and downs, and of constant, unprecedented change, we wanted to lean on tradition. 

Tradition, in this case, meant finding a winery that we could count on, vintage after vintage. One that had overcome challenges and found innovative ways to move into the future, while nodding to the past. A winery that honors its history and family by consistently making the best wines it can.

We decided that winery is Terra d’Oro. 

Located in Amador County, in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, this is old American wine country. When prospectors rushed to California’s gold, they knew they’d get thirsty. They brought vines, and planted them on the rolling, oak-studded hills. Prohibition shut the doors of most of these small wineries, but not all of the vines were removed. 

In 1973, forty years after the repeal of Prohibition, the first vintage of Terra d’Oro (under the label Montevina) was released. Founded by a young winemaker and his father-in-law, they were the first post-Prohibition winery in Amador County, and quickly brought acclaim back to the Sierra Foothills and their original star grape, Zinfandel. 

In a nod to their Italian immigrant heritage, Terra d’Oro turned to classic Italian grapes in expanding their portfolio. Full bodied Zinfandel led to juicy and spicy Barbera, while the hot summers led to a need for thirst quenching whites- found in Pinot Grigio and fruity Moscato. Using the past for inspiration, but keeping the future in mind, all of Terra d’Oro’s vineyards are managed sustainably. Integrated pest management alongside planned cover crops help reduce the need for pesticides and other added chemicals. 

So, to celebrate 2020, let’s look to the beautiful wines of Amador County, as they embody the pioneering spirit of those early fortune seekers by celebrating the future, while find ways to enjoy the present.


The Wines:

Pinot Grigio
Green's Cash Price: $9.95

Grown in the Los Alamos Vineyard of Santa Barbara County, this fresh, light, clean Pinot Grigio  is the perfect sipper. With ripe, notes of Asian pear and clover honey, the palate is rich and dense. With juicy white peach and floral characteristics. The finish has a touch of vanilla and roundness, making it ideal for a fruit and cheese plate.

Chenin Blanc Viognier
Green's Cash Price: $9.95

While not the most common blend, it certainly yields delicious results! Juicy tropical fruit with lemon zest and a hint of spice lead to a lively palate of grapefruit, papaya, and mango. A backbone of acidity and floral notes make this an easy pairing for blistered shishitos and takeout sushi.

Green's Cash Price: $9.95

Made from Nebbiolo grapes harvested just on the tart side of ripeness, this is a rosé made to balance the fruit, savory, acid, and mineral notes. Bright and versatile, with notes of sweet red berries with violets and star anise, it is incredibly refreshing for a warm day. This is the wine to pair with strawberries or an avocado and turkey sandwich.

Green's Cash Price: $14.95

A refreshingly zippy red, this Amador Barbera has layers of soft red fruit, blueberries and cherry cola. The elegantly round mouthfeel is balanced with notes of fresh toasted bread and soft baking spices. It is an all around crowd pleaser for dinner, especially with a pork roast.

Amador County Zinfandel
Green's Cash Price: $14.95

Coming from a range of vineyards throughout the county, this flagship bottling is a true expression of fresh Zinfandel from the Sierra Foothills. From younger vines, the wine spends 16 months in oak before being bottled. It is savory and vibrant, with spicy clove and cinnamon notes, followed by generous fruit and vanilla. Plums, blackberries, and blueberries lead to a round mouthfeel with soft, integrated tannins. This is a rich, full bodied wine that can be sipped on its own or, more happily, enjoyed with anything off the grill.

Deaver Vineyard Zinfandel
Green's Cash Price: $26.95

Planted in 1881, this dry farmed vineyard has much lower yields, leading to beautifully complex, deep flavors. The deep garnet color has lifted aromas of dark, brooding fruits, spicy clove and vanilla. The palate is focused, with juicy fruit layered with baking spice for a bold wine with soft, chewy tannins. The balance of power and restraint makes this lovely wine perfect for a roasted rack of lamb, or juicy steak with blue cheese.

Green's Cash Price: $9.95

By reserving a portion of unfermented juice, Terra d’Oro is able to achieve a beautifully balanced wine, with intoxicating aromas of peach blossom, honeysuckle, raspberries and apricot. The palate follows with creamy lemon cheesecake, bursting white peach and lingering notes of rose petals. Pull this wine out for spicy Thai or Szechuan meals.

Zinfandel Port
Green's Cash Price: $19.95

In a salute to the great fortified wines of Portugal, this Zinfandel wine is harvested late and fortified in much the same method. It leads to an absurdly delicious concoction full of aromas and flavors of raisins, berries, dates, chocolate, caramel and orange peel. Lingering on the palate are notes of cocoa, coffee, and toffee, along with a lush mouthfeel. This is the perfect after dinner drink, but if you had some dark chocolate, or even some Stilton with it…ooh. That’s a good night.

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