Welcome to Amador County, home of the 7th Gold Medal Concours

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Ione, California, home of Camanche Hills Hunting Preserve, is Gold Rush territory, an area still reminiscent of the Old Wild West. Many Amador County towns, such as Jackson (“Mother Lode Mecca”), Sutter Creek, Ione, Plymouth and Amador City, have walking tours describing their colorful past. But besides mining towns and old saloons, it is also a county of beautiful rolling hills and vineyards.

June 2003 marks Amador County’s sesquicentennial celebration. Four years after statehood, Amador was formed by splitting off from Calaveras County, one of California’s original 27 counties. The region was settled by non-Indians even before the discovery of gold, as agriculture and timbering were important activities in the 1840s. This is the only county named after a non-Indian Californian, José Maria Amador, a wealthy landowner whose ranch encompassed much of what is today Amador Valley. James Marshall discovered gold here, in January 1848, while his crew was building a sawmill for John Sutter. The two men did their best to keep it a secret, but word leaked out. Thousands of people found their way to the foothills of the Sierra in search of riches. Many tried placer mining in the nearby creeks, and gold was also found in quartz veins. After surface mining ran out, in the 1860s, deep-rock mining continued with such large operations as the Kennedy and Argonaut mines in Jackson and the Keystone mine in Amador City. More than $65 million in gold valued at $20 to $35 an ounce was taken out of these mines.
Gold mining continued until 1942, when World War II brought it to an end.

With the development of mining, European immigrants brought grape vines to California. The new vineyards provided sustenance to the miners until Prohibition. In Amador, the wine industry did not recover again until the 1960s. Today, however, there are 20 family owned and operated vineyards in Amador County offering many different varietals, the most famous being Zinfandel. Most wineries are open to visitors without appointment, but days and times vary so check before you go. Many offer picnickers beautiful vistas of the countryside in addition to the tastings. The grapes grown in Amador County are those usually associated with the Rhone
Valley in France and the Piedmont and Tuscany in Italy, including Sangiovese, Barbera, Mourvedre, Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier.

Take advantage of all Amador County has to offer and enjoy your time here!

–Barbara Nyholm


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