The wine-growing region in the US state of California is located between the Central Valley and the Rocky Mountains about 150 kilometres from the Pacific Ocean. It was the former gold mining area during the gold rush. In the 19th century it was the largest Californian wine-growing region until the phylloxera put an end to it. Today, the vineyards cover only 2,300 hectares at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains at an altitude of 450 to 900 metres above sea level. The most important grape varieties are Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and by far the most common Zinfandel. The climate is Mediterranean with mild, mostly humid winters and warm dry summers. The AVA area covers the six counties (in parentheses sub-AVA's) Amador County (California Shenandoah Valley, Fiddletown), Calaveras County, El Dorado County (California Shenandoah Valley, El Dorado, Fair Play), Mariposa County, Nevada County and Yuba County (North Yuba). There are over 100 mostly very small wineries. The best known are Bear River Winery, Lone Buffalo Winery, Ironstone Vineyards, Le Casque Winery, Sierra Knolls Vineyard and Winery and Cante Ao Vinho Winery.
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