Sierra Setting + a State’s Worth of Wines

An always-sells-out wine fest offers a Sierra-close setting and top labels.

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THE BEST SECRET: So just about everyone who has ever eaten out has that one place that they covet and yet -- and yet -- they're loathe to share, lest the whole city descend upon it and make it far too busy to visit on a regular basis. This phenomenon -- let's call it the "it's mine, all mine, you can't have it" phenomenon -- can extend to other places, too. Whole counties, in fact. And if ever there was a county made for this, it's Amador. If you've been, you know why we're suggesting this: It's pretty perfect.

BARBERA IS THE STAR: One of the best things about the hilly area are its exceptional wineries. And one of the best things about exceptional wineries is they have some pretty great tasting events. One of the top ones in the area is the Barbera Festival. Tickets for the Plymouth-based party have sold out for two years, and likely will again, when the festival returns on Saturday, June 8. Winemakers from around the state will arrive with their favorite Barbera-grape-y libations, meaning attendees will get a wide range of sips (and not just from local wineries). Advance tickets are $40.

And the nature of Barbera? It's got a "generous acid structure," says a festival rep, and flavors running the gamut from black cherry to vanilla. It will be a flavorful tasting, no doubt, with the zing of acid-ness.

WE ADORE AMADOR: We'd hate to depart when we still have things to say about this magnificent section of the Golden State. It's got that classic old California-ness to it, a Sierra-close setting, and it is an easy drive into Sacramento if big-city errands are required. It's a bold claim to make, especially given the fact that we live in a state with counties that go by the names of Monterey, Napa, and Santa Barbara. But Amador still feels like a secret in some corners, and while some would have it stay that we, we take a different stance. Sharing what we love is a positive thing, ultimately, because one thing definitely wins: The thing we love.

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