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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for March 16, 2000


A Cab From Puckerville


Shenandoah Vineyards Puckerville was an early goldmining camp in Amador County. In 1871, the settlement was renamed after the Plymouth Mines Co. [Today's wine comes from the town of Plymouth, Amador County.]

...Prof. Erwin Gudde, California Place Names

Zinfandel, beyond all argument, is the great, proven grape variety of the Gold Country. Amador County takes center stage.

...Bob Thompson, Wine Atlas of California

The Rest of the Story

These numbers confirm Zinfandel's lead over Cabernet Sauvignon in Amador County. Here are the acres of each:

  Zinfandel Cabernet  
1974 681 56  
1997 1,602 54  

Then why are we bringing up a Cabernet from what was once Puckerville? Answer: Here are comments from the super-palates on my Presidio Cafe Panel:
Rating Comments
93 Black cherry, plum, cassis; good structure (Skip Hanson, wine teacher, pro bridge player)
91 Rich, fruity, resembles Amador Zin (Dr. Linus Hollis, pro wine judge)
93 Finesse, elegance, gorgeous black cherry (David Jones, wine teacher and tour consultant)
93 Where can we get this wine? (Edgar Vogt, wine teacher)

Alright, it's a mighty good Cab, but who can afford it? You can. It is only tweleve dollars!! I've had it in my cellar a while, so I'm not sure about availability, but if your wine shop can't help, phone Shirley Sobon at (209) 245-4455, FAX (209) 245-5156 at Puckerv--er, at Plymouth, CA.

Our Bargin of the Day

1996 Cabernet Sauvignon by Shenandoah Vineyards
Plymouth, Amador County
Vintage History—This is the 20th Cab vintage by proprietor-winemaker Lee Sobon.
Back Label on Bottle—"This wine will peak at about the turn of the century." RIGHT ON, Lee!


Did Cabernet Sauvignon arrive in Amador County along with the gold miners? Eric Costa, the foremost Sierra Foothills wine historian, hasn't unearthed all the details yet, but does say this. The first Amador grapevines were planted by a former New England school teacher, Benjamin Burt. Planted in 1852, the 1,600 vines included "60 assorted foreign varieties." If you visit Amador County, pause for a moment at the ancient apple orchard on East Quartz Mountain Road. That's the site of Burt's Garden, where those first vines were planted.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


This page created March 2000