Sierra Foothills AVA is in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and it includes parts of eight counties. With total acreage of 2.6 million acres, and nearly 6,000 vineyard acres, it is one of the largest appellations in California. Wine grapes were planted in the foothills during the Gold Rush in the mid-19th century and the appellation was officially recognized in 1987. There are five sub-appellations within the Sierra Foothills region, and more than 100 wineries, most small and family-owned. Zinfandel is the most successful wine grape in this region, though Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are also planted.
The Gamay grape produces a light, versatile and food-friendly wine. It is best known for making Beaujolais Nouveau, but it is also grown in Loire and Tours. Thankfully the 14th C. Duke of Burgundy’s degree to ban the grape did not spread through all of France.