When I think of El Dorado I think of the legendary bandito Joaquin Murrieta, called the Robin Hood of El Dorado in books. He is the real bandito of California who the fictional Hollywood character Zorro was modeled after. The story goes that Joaquin turned to robbing gold miners after he was beaten and his wife was murdered by a group of them. Joaquin is even said to have laid in wait along Arroyo del Valle in Pleasanton, which I see out my windows, waiting to waylay miners coming back to San Francisco from the gold fields.
In 1853 Harry Love, Captain of the newly formed California Rangers, and his posse, caught up with Joaquin and his gang, the Five Joaquins, who were suspected of killing at least 20 people, and shot them down. They only lasted a few years and it was all over. It wasn’t long before the gold ran out either and prospectors had to find something else to do. Some of them turned to planting grapes and making wine in gold country. There was a fair amount of Zinfandel planted and produced during the gold rush to satisfy the thirst of panhandlers for strong, sweet wine. After the gold rush with most of the miners gone it was tough going, and prohibition about ended it all, but in the last few decades wine making has made a big comeback in the foothills.
It’s said that Sierra Foothills Wineries attract a different kind of winemaker than other regions. Farming grapes in the foothills is difficult, and given that the region isn’t so well know the wines do not command high prices. The dedicated vintners in this area make wines that express the difficult climate and terrain of the region. What this means is that you can get bargains on wines with character. Which is why I was interested when I heard about the tasting in San Francisco of El Dorado wines at Postrio.