History & Wine in Gold Country...

We are camped in the town of Plymouth for the long weekend. Today was an explore of some of the local history and vineyards.

Our first stop was Fiddletown, a small village which began as a mining camp during the height of the Gold Rush, with ample placer gold deposits that attracted miners from all parts of the world. The story goes that it was named by early settlers from Missouri who fiddled during slow times when there was no water in the creeks for mining, a frequent occurrence in the summer. Music was always a part of this town, but so was fiddling around.
Chinese miners and merchants also gravitated to Fiddletown, occupying the southwest part of the town. By 1880, half of Fiddletown’s population was Chinese. Though the Chinese departed in the first part of the 20th Century, they left behind several early gold rush buildings that make Fiddletown unique among Sierra foothill towns. The Chew Kee herb store was inhabited for more than 100 years by Chinese residents. It is now open as a museum, containing fascinating objects from the lives of its occupants.
By 1853, Fiddletown evolved into a trading center for nearby mining camps and for farms in the neighboring Shenandoah Valley. Its commercial area during this period of growth featured fifteen to twenty stores, four hotels, several blacksmith shops, a carpenter’s shop, four taverns, a couple of bakeries, two or three restaurants, dance halls, and even public baths. With a church, post office, and school, it was quite a civilized town. In its heyday, the town’s population was about 2,000.

We were told, by 'local' Charlie, to visit the lobby of the post office. We are so glad we heeded his advice. Lining its walls were historical photos of families, buildings and events. It was like a museum, in of itself. We learned so much about this town and its inhabitants.

Thanks to early settlers, some of California's oldest vineyards are in Amador County. Snuggled mostly in the Shenandoah Valley, northeast of where we are camped, these wineries reflect the continued focus on utilizing nature’s assets for a commercial economy.
While in Fiddletown, we strolled through the cemetery, and discovered the name Deaver. When we saw this vineyard, we knew we had to stop. A drive over Deaver’s 300 acres took us past 140-year-old Zinfandel vines and eight acres of Mission vines, so called because they were brought from Mexico by the Jesuits and Franciscans. The Deaver mission vines were planted around 1854.
We picnicked here and then delighted in really great 'reds' poured by Ann, a knowledgeable and friendly sommelier. Fun stuff.
 Our next stop was Story Vineyards and a frolic in their vines, planted in 1894.


Our final stop was at Vino Noceto (translates to wine nut).  How could we not stop for this? "Where Italian inspiration collides with California sunshine to produce world class Sangiovese in Amador County".

Everywhere were tractor crossing signs but this one was voted the best by us. Tomorrow we will explore with B & C. Should be an incredible day of Gold Country fun, if today is any indication!

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