AWG Correspondent

Yvonne Kochanowski

Madrona Vineyards Photos

Madrona Vineyards Review

Regions: Sierra Foothills AVA, El Dorado County, El Dorado AVA, California

Reviewed: March 23, 2012 by Yvonne Kochanowski
Published: March 25, 2012

Madroña Vineyards, unique at its high elevation of 3000 feet, actually consists of three different vineyards, all owned by different branches of the Bush family. The tasting room and Madroña Vineyard are in the heart of the Apple Hill® agricultural region of El Dorado County. Two newer vineyards, Enyé and Sumu-Kaw, are located in the nearby Pleasant Valley area, ranging over similar high elevations.

The Place:  Don’t be scared off by the somewhat puzzling drive through High Hill Ranch – the tasting room and vineyards are set on a hillside behind this historic working farm (open from Spring through Fall). In fact, consider picking up a snack on your way through to enjoy with your wines in the small Madroña picnic area under the pines. The tasting room is a cozy log cabin, with a small shopping area offering local food products.

The Experience:  Madroña offers something unique in the tasting experience – they begin with their red wines instead of whites. Their reasoning – the acid in their whites is higher and tends to coat the tongue, overwhelming the flavors of the reds. The tannins and pH of the reds will dissipate, allowing the whites to shine on their own. Not all wines currently offered for sale are also available as pours. Tasting room staff are knowledgeable about the wines, but some are less attentive, interactive and welcoming than others.

The Wines:  The Madroña Vineyard grapes were planted in 1973, with the other younger vineyards established within the last 20 years. The flavors produced from the same variety across the different ages, climates, and soil profiles of vines offer a breadth of tasting experiences, such as the Rieslings and Zinfandels for which this winery is known. Other great picks are the Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and New World Port.

The People:  This family-owned and operated winery is in its second generation of winemakers and grape growers. Winemaker Paul Bush is known for creating rich and flavorful wines that pair well with foods as well as offering fine sipping experiences. The Bush families are committed to sustainable farming and production practices and have made a significant investment in solar power and other methods to limit the winery’s carbon footprint.

Insider’s Tips:  Because of its location near the freeway connecting Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, this tasting room can get very busy late in the day, and that can cause major congestion in the pouring area. It’s a good idea to check inside for groups of eight or more to make sure that there is room to accommodate everyone. The complimentary pouring list is extensive and offers good examples of the range of styles this winery produces. The reserve tasting list is also substantial and well-worth the fee, which is partially refundable with wine purchases.

Address & Contact Information: 2560 High Hill Rd Camino, California 95709. Telephone: 530-644-5948, email:, website: Tasting Hours: 11:00-5:00.

Overall Rating:  

Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance

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