WineAccess Travel Log
Read stories from the world's greatest wine trails.
The Sierra Foothills region forms a long, thin band that runs for about 170 miles through 8 counties along the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Though the appellation is called "Foothills," this is mountain winemaking, with most vineyards located at elevations of 1,000-3,000 feet above sea level.
Thanks to its high elevation, this appellation enjoys long, sunny days and cool evenings during the growing season. Overall, the climate is cooler here than on floor of California's Central Valley. Not surprisingly, Sierra Foothill vineyards can be quite rocky and the soil is chiefly composed of granite. Vines shoot deep underground for much needed nutrients and water.
Wine making in this territory began in 1849 (a year before California joined the Union), when gold miners planted a number of vines outside the mouth of the mines. The end of the Gold Rush followed by the onset of Prohibition effectively put a stop to Sierra Foothills wine making.
The Sierra Foothills were rediscovered during the 1970s as real estate prices skyrocketed in Napa and Sonoma. Nowadays, the Sierra Foothills is planted to many different of varieties, from Sauvignon Blanc to Zinfandel.