Fiddletown’s Treasures Unveiled: Crafting Excellence at PleinAir Vineyards in Amador County

By Published On: August 24, 2023

Credit: PleinAir Vineyards

For Tom and Sarah Malone, their appreciation for wine shared among friends evolved into an unexpected adventure when their son Dan’s career in the wine industry took an intriguing turn. Amidst the picturesque landscapes of Amador County, the Malones found themselves on the brink of a new journey, envisioning a commercial winery that blended family ties with their deep passion for viticulture. As their path unfurled, the Fiddletown property transformed from a second home into the epicenter of their dream to create exceptional wines and a welcoming sanctuary for visitors. And so, PleinAir Vineyards was born.

Purchased in 2013, the estate property sits at a lofty elevation of 2,000 feet, nestled upon rolling hills that embrace a westward-facing slope. Encompassing 21.5 acres, its vantage point offers a touch of moderation and cooling to the climate, a hidden secret behind preserving the wines’ refreshing quality. The estate’s soil, characterized by Sierra coarse sandy loam, nurtures a collection of Rhone varietals such as Syrah, Viognier, Mourvedre, and Grenache. This balance reins in vine vigor, collaboratively enhancing the fruit with concentrated character and essence. However, the unforeseen arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted their plans, ultimately delaying the grand opening until 2022.

To elevate their winery, the Malones enlisted the expertise of winemaking consultant Steve Leveque, whose background includes associations with Opus One, Mondavi, and Chalk Hill Estate. Recognizing the intricacies of the Sierra Foothills, Leveque partnered with the region’s foremost growers, pushing the boundaries of winemaking in this emerging area.

Credit: PleinAir Vineyards

PleinAir’s wines are distinct, showcasing the family’s commitment to complexity and equilibrium. The Mourvedre, with its earthy undertones, red fruit, and floral notes, stands as a testament to this pursuit, resonating with the unique terroir of Fiddletown. On the other hand, Viognier presents a challenge that the Malones eagerly embrace: balancing freshness with rich floral and tropical tones. Thriving in Fiddletown’s unique conditions, these varieties yield wines of exceptional character.

Amador County has risen as a prominent wine destination, benefiting from its proximity to the burgeoning greater Sacramento area. This proximity has introduced more people to the charms of Amador as a wine tasting oasis. Yet, despite its rural allure, there lies an opportunity to enhance the infrastructure of neighboring towns. The addition of dining establishments would not only enrich the experience for wine enthusiasts but also stimulate the local economy.

PleinAir Vineyards provides a blend of ambiance and personalized engagement, offering visitors an authentic and immersive journey into the world of wine. The venue itself is a testament to the Malones’ attention to detail and authenticity. Adorned with antique French windows, architectural treasures, and furnishings sourced from a journey to France in 2015, the setting effortlessly transports visitors to an old-world charm. Beyond the wines poured, conversations flow naturally toward the venue’s stories, art, travel anecdotes, and shared passions. This deep connection with guests embodies the heart of hospitality, where the exploration of wine becomes a shared journey of experiences.

The wines featured in the Wine Recommendations section were provided by the winery for the purpose of review. The selection and tasting of these wines were independently conducted. No compensation or incentives were provided for inclusion in the story.  As always, the top priority is to provide the readers with informative reporting.

Wine Recommendations

Credit: PleinAir Vineyards

2020 Mourvedre- intricate aromas unfold, showcasing blackberry and plum with a tantalizing blend of spices and herbs.  The wine’s structure stands as a testament to excellence, boasting impeccable equilibrium, seamlessly complimented by precisely tuned acidity.  As the journey culminates, the wine departs with a lingering and spirited spiciness.

2021 Viognier- floral bouquet intertwines with melon, peach, and cream pie.  The notes of crisp acidity play upon the palate, while a rich texture bestows a sense of opulence, finishing in a beautifully rounded mouthfeel.

About the Author: Joe Campbell

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Located out of the Sierra Foothills of California, Joe Campbell provides color commentary as well as insight within the wine industry both from the lifestyle consumer and business segments of the industry. He can be reached via email at : .