The epicenter of the California Gold Rush, Placer attracted thousands of immigrants who sought fortune in the mines—and left their vines in the soil. In 1848 wine grapes were first introduced in Placer County, the same year James Marshall discovered gold. The Frenchman, Claude Chana, who discovered gold in Auburn Ravine, planted the first grape vines. Along with the miners, the Gold Rush of 1848 brought European winemakers who established larger vineyards and started producing increasing quantities and varieties of wine. In the 1860s winemaking became a thriving industry and many miners became winemakers, giving the Sierra Foothills more vineyards and wineries than Sonoma and Napa combined. Then, in 1920 Prohibition made alcohol illegal and most vineyards were converted to pear, plum and citrus orchards – with the railroads running right up the middle of the county, the area became known as “the Nation’s Fruitbasket” and fruit production remained the main economy of the region until the 1960s.
With 20 wineries and counting, Placer County re-embraces its heritage as a premium California wine-producing region. Placer County wineries, classified with the “Sierra Foothills” appellation, offer a refreshing change from the more commercialized and less personal wine tasting experiences of larger wine regions. Placer wineries are family-owned and operated, have small vineyards and the winemakers themselves are part of the charm, making Placer County a newly sought-after destination for a more personalized and unique wine-tasting experience.
See what Wine Enthusiast Magazine has to say about the Sierra Foothills.
“The New & Improved Sierra Foothills. First made famous during California’s Gold Rush, the region is now a source of vinous treasures.“