Earlier this year I had the honor of attending El Dorado Passport Weekend as a VIP guest of the El Dorado Winery Association. You might ask, what is El Dorado Passport Weekend? It is two days for two weekends in a row devoted to the wineries of El Dorado County. Over twenty wineries participated in 2018 and most had themed parties and/or favors for the occasion. Although I could only stay one day, I did manage to visit six of those wineries, and all had many unique things to offer.
Miraflores Winery was our first stop of the day. For passport weekend they had a wonderfully decadent Great Gatsby themed party. Those with VIP tickets enjoyed library wine offerings including their 2006 Petite Sirah, 2008 Petite Sirah and 2009 Petite Sirah paired with small bites like grilled oysters. Year round you can visit their incredibly friendly winery cat and try a wonderful sweet and unique wine named Angelica. This wine is composed with a rare varietal, Mission. The grape is aptly named for the Spanish missionaries that cultivated it.
Holly’s Hill Vineyards
I made sure to visit Holly’s Hill Vineyards because for passport weekend they were handing out clippings from their vineyard to VIP ticket holders. Like Miraflores Winery, they had several small paired bites with their wines. As someone who loves to take photos of wine and myself, I was glad to learn that they had a selfie station too. Don’t worry, that’s up year-round, not just for passport weekend.
Sierra Vista Vineyards
Our next stop was Sierra Vista Vineyards. For Passport Weekend they had a casino theme with games that came with real prizes like free wine tasting. They are one of the older wineries of the region, and offer many unfiltered wine options.
For passport weekend Madrona Vineyards broke out a large number of library wines and had paired bites as well. Madrona Vineyards is one of the few tasting rooms you can still taste for free. They are also a part of the Apple Hill Growers.
Like the other wineries, Chateau Davell offered paired bites. As parents themselves, the winery has a play house on property. Their wines feature stunning illustrations, including those of their children. They also have a mysterious red blend, that they tweak year to year but keep the varietals a mystery.
Nello Olivo Winery
I first met “The Grape Father” at the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference. He can’t be described in just words. He was incredibly gracious and let us stay past the ending time. Make sure you check out some of his incredible videos on You Tube. GLUG GLIG GLUG is my favorite.
I encourage everyone to visit El Dorado Wine Country. It probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of wine country but start exploring the wines that are a bit off the beaten path you learn more.