Miraflores Winery: A Thriving Vineyard in Pleasant Valley, El Dorado County

By Published On: January 22, 2024

Credit: Miraflores Winery

Dr. Victor Alvarez, a successful pathologist, found himself mesmerized by the scenic beauty of Pleasant Valley, in El Dorado County,  during a detour on a business trip to Reno. This serendipitous discovery led him to purchase a property that would eventually become the flourishing Miraflores Winery. 

Under the guidance of winemakers Marco Cappelli and Fernando Abarca, the land was transformed into a thriving vineyard. Cappelli’s winemaking techniques, influenced by his training in Italy, France, and Australia, blend old-world and modern approaches. He has notably created a Sauternes-style wine, “Botricelli,” and revived California’s first planted grape variety, Mission, with the dessert wine, Angelica.

Abarca, known for his dedication and work ethic, brings a methodical approach to the winery. His commitment to quality and respect for the grapes and their environment balance his decision-making. The team’s openness to new ideas allows for the continuous evolution and refinement of their craft, producing wines that consumers love and meeting the challenges of an ever-changing marketplace.

The unique microclimate of Pleasant Valley imparts distinctive characteristics to its grapes. Factors such as elevation, diverse soils, and a refreshing river breeze collaborate to combat mold, enhance acidity, and carve out a sophisticated complexity. The region’s extended, mild seasons allow varieties like Syrah to mature gradually, developing intricate structures. Despite the challenges, even varieties like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon achieve equilibrium through careful consideration of the terrain and detailed craftsmanship. However, the forces of nature can be harsh, with spring frosts and summer wildfires, such as the 2021 Caldor fire and the frost of 2022, leaving their marks on the landscape and testing the resilience of the vineyards.

Credit: Miraflores Winery

Miraflores’ flagship wine, Syrah, stands as a testament to the estate’s unique terroir and their commitment to quality and complexity. Initially inspired by the renowned wines of Northern Rhone, the winemaking process at Miraflores has evolved over time to produce Syrahs that are softer, more approachable, and riper, reflecting their unique style and the characteristics of their estate. This evolution was recognized when their 2017 Estate Syrah was ranked among the top three Syrahs in California by Wine Spectator.

Their  Zinfandel, originating from high-elevation, offers a unique style. They tend to be elegant and restrained, with a complexity that sets them apart from Zinfandels from lower-elevation regions like Lodi or Sonoma. The cool evenings at the high elevation contribute to the wine’s structure and acidity, making it ageable.

El Dorado County offers a unique perspective deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of its team. The winery’s name, “Miraflores,” reflects Victor Alvarez’s South American heritage and translates to “a nice place.” The old-world style tasting room, filled with rare antiques, mirrors Victor’s passion for history and travel. The convent-like barrel room and the wine labels for the Angelica and Gabriel dessert wines are a subtle nod to Victor and Marco’s Catholic upbringing.

Located in the heart of the Sierra Foothills, El Dorado County emerges as a rising star among the state’s wine regions.

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 readers with informative reporting.

Wine Recommendations

Credit: Miraflores Winery

2019 Malbec- a dazzling expression of high-altitude viticulture, displaying a deep purple hue and a bouquet of ripe black fruits, violets, and spices. The palate is full-velvety, revealing layers of blackberries, plums, and raspberries, supported by fine-grained tannins and a lively acidity. The wine shows impeccable balance and a long, satisfying finish. It has the potential to evolve beautifully for at least 10 years, but it is already a pleasure to drink now.

2019 Syrah- The tannins are ripe and silky, supporting a complex array of aromas and flavors that include blackberry, exotic spices, and cracked pepper. The finish is long and satisfying.

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve- aromas of currant, black cherry, plum, and berry fruits. The palate is rich and smooth, with plush tannins and a long finish.

2021 1853 Misión – notes of rose petals, orange blossom, and wild strawberries. The palate is light-bodied but rich in flavor, with a refreshing acidity and a silky texture. The wine shows a range of red fruit nuances, such as pomegranate and cranberry, The finish is long and elegant, with a touch of sweetness.

2021 Viognier – floral aromas, with lemon blossoms and white flowers. The palate is rich and expressive, revealing layers of citrus, honey, and spice. The alcohol level is high, but well-balanced by the vibrant acidity and minerality.

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 : joe@winebulletin.net .