News & Events


Placerville Art & Wine Festival

Saturday October 21st

The 20th Annual Placerville Art & Wine Festival features local wineries, artists, and live entertainment on Historic Main Street. Banners on Parade, a community art project, will be on display and the banners will be available to purchase through a silent auction. Our community partner, Images of Hope, will host a variety of activities throughout the night to recognize […]

Nevada Day

October 27-29

Saddle up and pay us a visit! Nevada Day is our way of appreciating our loyal Nevada customers with special offers and/or events at over 20 participating El Dorado County wineries.  For more information visit

Soroptimist of South Lake Tahoe’s “An Evening of Wine & Food”

Friday November 10th

Attendees will sip on incredible wine from approximately 20 of Northern California’s top wineries and sample a wide variety of delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts from approximately 30 of the South Shore’s finest restaurants and breweries. We always have a great winery lineup with wineries from all over the west coast, and amazing local food […]

Holiday Wine Club Release Party

Sunday November 12th

Join us Sunday November 12th to celebrate our Holiday Wine Club Release. We will be firing up some delicious pizza from Molto Benney Wood Fired Pizza. The Holiday Wine Club Release features our 2015 Roussanne, 2014 El Dorado Syrah, and 2014 Petite Sirah. This will also be the perfect opportunity to stock up before the […]

The Best of Sacramento Party

Saturday, November 18th

The 17th Best of Sacramento Party, benefiting Make-A-Wish, will take place Saturday, November 18, 2017 at the Sacramento Convention Center. We are proud to note that of nearly 100 other “Best Of” parties across the country, Sacramento’s affair remains the largest and greatest tribute to any city across the nation. More than 75,000 people have attended […]


News & Press:

Winter 2017

Top 100 Winery 2017

Skinner, Part Deux: Back in 1861 , James Skinner was making 15,000 gallons of wine (and brandy as well) from a vineyard he planted at the base of the Sierra Foothills after striking it rich during the Gold Rush.  More that 140 years later, through a rather Byzantine series of events, his great-great-great-grandson Mike Skinner […]

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August 1, 2017

Review: 2014 Seven Generations | 92 Points & Editor’s Choice

White pepper and vanilla bean aromas give this richly textured, concentrated and subtly fruity wine a spicy start. It has a bright yellow-gold color and has gained complexity through extended aging before release. Savory consomée and dried herb characteristics accent its substantial core of apple butter flavor. Wine Enthusiast Magazine | August 1, 2017  

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August 1, 2017

Review: 2015 Smithereens, White Blend | 90 Points & Editor’s Choice

Bosc pear, tart apple and vanilla bean elements make this a fascinating dry wine. Although the aromas are inviting, the first sip tastes austere. But as it opens, the palate and gains more concentration and complexity, proving sophisticated, layered and nuanced. Wine Enthusiast | August 1, 2017

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July 1, 2017

Review: 2014 Six-Horse Zinfandel | 90 Points

This full-bodied and robustly concentrated wine has chocolate and cherry aromas, rich and ripe plum and blackberry flavors and layers of chocolate and vanilla on the palate and finish. It feels broad and juicy in texture, too. Wine Enthusiast Magazine | July 1, 2017

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June 1, 2017

Review: 2014 Mourvedre, Estate | 92 Points

Bright red fruits like raspberries and cherries light up the aromas and flavors of this deeply colored, nicely concentrated and velvet-textured wine. It has great fruit that wells up, fills the mouth with flavor and then hangs on for a long finish. Wine Enthusiast Magazine | June 1, 2017

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June 1, 2017

Review: 2013 Syrah, El Dorado | 91 Points & Editor’s Choice

A crazy-good combo of lavender, espresso and baking spice flavors make this full-bodied wine fascinating to taste. It’s deeply colored, aromatic and tannic, but not heavy. The wine has a vivid stamp of spicy oak, with enough lavish blackberry and black cherry behind it for balance. Wine Enthusiast Magazine | June 1, 2017

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June 1, 2017

Review: 2013 Eighteen Sixty-One | 90 Points

There is a gentle side to this medium-bodied wine, as it offers aromatic complexity with slightly restrained fruit flavors. Light aromas like cedar shavings and black pepper give way to a smooth texture supported by moderate tannins, and pretty plum and pomegranate flavors. Wine Enthusiast Magazine | June 1, 2017

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June 1, 2017

Review: 2014 Smithereens, Red Blend | 89 Points & Editor’s Choice

Here’s a red Rhône-style blend that tastes well balanced, like a traditional French wine. It has a relatively light color like Grenache does, and open, fruity aromas followed by flavors like raspberry, strawberry and cherry. Extra smooth and silky in texture, the wine has a lingering finish, too.  Wine Enthusiast Magazine | June 1, 2017

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February 2017

The Rescue Paradox

Seeing California’s Future Through Mourvedre-Tinted Lenses “Mourvedre has been in California since the 1800s, and you’ll still find a vine or two scattered among the zinfandel in the state’s pre-Prohibition plantings – back then, they called it mataro.[…] Still, compared to syrah and grenache, mourvedre is the late bloomer of the American Rhone movement; most Californians […]

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February 2017

Review: 2014 Mourvedre, El Dorado

“It’s easy to fall for this charming mourvedre, which winemaker Chris Pittenger sources from four different sites planted from 1,300 to 2,700 feet in elevation.  The late-ripening variety flourishes in the Foothills’ hot summers and volcanic soils.  Like many Sierra Foothills mourvedre plantings, these vines are still young, yet this shows just how fresh and […]

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Perfect Wine & Food Match Up For Game Day

“Heading into the weekend of the big game, it’s time for a red robust enough to party with. But Chris Pittenger’s work both accomplishes that and shows off so much more — specifically the beauty of this grape on the Sierra Foothills’ complex soils. It’s refined as can be, with cedar, iris and strawberry blossoms, […]

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Winter 2016

W&S Wineries to Watch 2016

Winter 2016 | 30th Annual Buying Guide “Mike and Carey Skinner were vacationing in the Sierra Foothills when they came across a reference to James Skinner’s winery.  It turns out he was an ancestor, and the two southern Californians decided they’d try to reclaim their family’s forgotten winemaking legacy.  They bought land in Fairplay, in […]

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April 2016

Review: American New Releases

2013 Grenache, El Dorado 91 Points: Winemaker Chris Pittenger made this varietally true grenache from four vineyards ranging in elevations from 1,300 to 2,800 feet.  The volcanic soils of the Sierra Foothills have a wine with meaty red-cherry flavor and aromas of juniper and roses.  It’s rich and ripe, but its lusciousness is deliciously contained […]

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July 14, 2015

Mixed Grill, the American Way

Many wines will go with what may be called mixed grill. If you are using this vinegary ketchup-based barbecue sauce, I would reach first for one of the many delicious Rhône-style reds coming from good California producers who balance an appreciation of West Coast sunshine with a sense of restraint. Syrah, grenache, mourvèdre and more obscure grapes are used, sometimes as varietal wines but often in blends.

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April 20, 2015

A League of Their Rhône Rangers–Part Two

I would happily buy the Skinner 2012 Grenache. How often do we mention a wine that is fun to drink? Too often we fret about big wines, “profound” wines, wines that will amaze us and impress our friends—the Law Estate might do that for you. The Skinner 2012 Grenache has all of the grape’s bright, […]

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February 21, 2015

Feast Q&A: El Dorado’s Skinner Vineyards

The wine industry recently descended on Sacramento for the annual Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, and a boutique winery in El Dorado County was one of the most buzzed-about companies during the convention. Skinner Vineyards of Fair Play was one of the 10 “hot brands” listed in the annual review of the industry by Wine […]

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February 2015

Wine Business Monthly Top 10 Hot Brands 2014

“Every year, when Wine Business Monthly chooses our annual list of the top 10 Hot Brands, we look for vintners, growers, wineries and wines that are making a statement in our industry… These are wineries that best exemplify their region or variety, or that dared to take big risks (with big rewards) in creating a new category or technique.”

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December 7, 2014

San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Wines, 2014

“For several years I’ve made the case that this is a golden moment for American wine. Never has that felt more true. There are exceptional wines to be found all up and down the West Coast, which is the scope of my annual Top 100 Wines.

What’s happening transcends that, though. American wine culture itself has matured. Wine, more than ever, is part of our lives.”

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November 17, 2014

Wine Spectator 12 Enticing California Reds: New reviews of Syrah, Grenache and more from the Sierra Foothills

“Some of California’s Rhône superstars are mining new territory in gold country. There’s been a boom in the Sierra Foothills over the last decade as vintners stake claims in this once overlooked wine region and explore its diverse terroir. “The region is so unique because it has so many different microclimates,” says Skinner winemaker Chris Pittenger, who contends that some of the soils in the Sierras can’t be found anywhere else in the United States.

Wine grapes were first planted in the Sierras during California’s gold rush. Skinner Vineyards and Winery was established in 2006, but founder Mike Skinner has ties to the region’s winemaking past. His ancestors started one of the region’s first commercial wineries in 1861 and planted Rhône varieties such as Grenache and Carignane, both of which Skinner still grows today in his two vineyards.”

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September 2014

Wine Business Monthly: Varietal Focus Grenache

A look at how 8 different wineries in 3 distinct regions in California make Grenache, with a feature on El Dorado and Skinner Vineyards. Click here to read more.

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July 2014

Grape Nutz: A Visit to Skinner

“I thought the 2011 reds were the finest I’ve tasted from Skinner, particularly the Estate Mourvèdre and the “Dry Diggings” blend. And the whites continue to display a bright acidity and focus that’s not often found in whites from the Sierra Foothills.”

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March 31, 2014

Wine Spectator Recommended Rhone-Style Wines from California

SKINNER Mourvèdre El Dorado Estate 2010 Score: 94 Offers a powerful thrust of road tar-laced dark berry, black licorice, anise and cigar box notes. For all its torque, this retains a measure of grace and refinement. Dense and chewy, with beautiful flavors. Drink now through 2024. 73 cases made. –JL SKINNER Eighteen Sixty-One El Dorado 2010 Score: 93 […]

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March 31, 2014

Wine Spectator’s Four to Watch

Mike Skinner, 67, didn’t plan on starting a winery, but a revelation about his ancestry sparked his interest. Before Skinner’s father died, in 1992, he revealed the scant details he knew about the family’s history: a town in the Sierra Foothills called Coloma and a vague reference to the year 1849, since he knew an ancestor was involved in the Gold Rush. Skinner’s son, Kevin, drove to the town and found the remnants of a family cemetery. Skinner then contacted local historians and learned that his family had been pioneers in the California wine industry.

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March 15, 2014

NorCal’s Wine of the Day

Skinner’s got the right grapes in the right sites and combines that with careful viticulture and talented winemaking. The results are excellent and, because the region is still under-the-radar, even limited-release wines can be had at reasonable prices. Read More

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December 3, 2013

San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Wines, 2013

This year’s list marks key moment for American wine If the past is prelude, then my conclusion from last year’s Top 100 Wines — that we’re entering a glorious age for American wine — is even truer in 2013. The top wines coming from the West Coast right now are the best in a generation 2011 […]

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November 2013

“The New California Wine” includes Skinner as a Top Producer

Revising the Rhône Top Producer: Skinner Vineyards “A key to improving Sierra Foothills winemaking has been to have a new local producer serious and ambitious enough to redirect the region’s more rustic ways. The foothills found that in Skinner, located at 2,750 feet high up in remote Fair Play. The Skinner wines have a delicate […]

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September 16, 2013

Tempting the Hangman of El Dorado County

“I’ll FINALLY end with the Skinner Vineyards 2010 Eighteen Sixty-One, a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Counoise. What I like about Skinner’s wines is their purity, how the flavors pop on your palate, and how elegant and polished they are. Grenache seems to love El Dorado County, and may ultimately be the variety that distinguishes it. […]

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July 2013

Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews: 26 Hours in El Dorado

“Tasting through the Skinner Rhone reds collection there is a beautiful consistency of quality, with vintage variation. The winemaking utilizes natural yeast with no additives, with a focus on picking to retain acidity. Pittenger is especially excited about the Grenache they are producing from the region. I fell in love with the Mourvedre, especially the […]

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April 14, 2013

White wine from the Sierra foothills

White wine from Sierra foothills April 14, 2013 By Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor “2011 Skinner El Dorado Viognier ($24, 13.9%): This ascendant winery in Fair Play shows a particular strength with a grape that can too often be steered wrong. It’s both vibrant and florid in that Viognier way – with hyacinth and dark […]

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February 3, 2013

2013 Winemaker to Watch: Chris Pittenger

Winemaker Chris Pittenger walks the rows at Skinner Vineyards in Fair Play (El Dorado County). Photo: Brian Baer, Special To The Chronicle 2013 Winemaker to Watch: Chris Pittenger February 3, 2013 By Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor The distinctive growing conditions and unusual soils drew winemaker Chris Pittenger to the Sierra Foothills. The fact that it’s so close […]

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April 1, 2013

A bright moment for the Rhone-minded

A bright moment for the Rhone-minded April 1, 2013 By Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor “2010 Skinner Dry Diggings El Dorado Red ($32, 14.8%): Recently profiled Winemaker to Watch Chris Pittenger leads with Syrah here, in this case about one-half, with Grenache, Mourvedre and Petite Sirah, from a mix of estate and notable foothills (Sumu Kaw, […]

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March 31, 2013

Grenache Displays its Stunning Side

Grenache Displays its Stunning Side March 31, 2013 By Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor “2011 Skinner El Dorado Grenache ($26, 14.8%): The Skinner family and winemaker Chris Pittenger found a hearty, musky expression from El Dorado: wild sage and mace, matched to tannic black currant and tangy raspberry. Dense and big, but still remarkably finessed.” read […]

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January 30, 2013

2010 Skinner Grenache WINE OF THE WEEK

2010 Skinner Grenache WINE OF THE WEEK January 30, 2013 By Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor “Heading into the weekend of the big game, it’s time for a red robust enough to party with. But Chris Pittenger’s work both accomplishes that and shows off so much more — specifically the beauty of this grape on […]

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December 2, 2012

Top 100 Wines, 2012

Top 100 Wines, 2012 December 2, 2012 By Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor “2010 Skinner El Dorado Grenache ($26, 14.8%): Winemaker Chris Pittenger continues to show the beauty of the foothills at this upstart label. The Grenache hails from two notable sites, Sumu Kaw and Fenaughty, at 2,500 and 2,850 feet, and the 2010 shows a […]

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March 23, 2012

Rhône Rosé: Quivira, Mounts, and Skinner Vineyards – Drink Pink!

Rhône Rosé: Quivira, Mounts, and Skinner Vineyards – Drink Pink! March 23, 2012 By William Allen, Healdsburg Patch Skinner Vineyards 2010 Grenache Rosé” A winery in the Sierra Foothills I have my eyeballs on.  This Rosé is  mostly Grenache with a touch of Mourvedre. Color – clear, salmon-strawberry color. On the nose -cherry, red fruit, hint […]

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February 26, 2012

Grenache finds a star turn in California: The Chronicle Recommends

Grenache finds a star turn in California: The Chronicle Recommends February 26, 2012 By Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor “2009 Skinner El Dorado Grenache ($26, 15%): Winemaker Chris Pittenger’s early vintages have quickly brought attention to this new foothills label. The Grenache hails from two notable sites, Sumu Kaw and Fenaughty, at 2,500 and 2,850 […]

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Review: Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar

2009 Skinner Vineyards Syrah Stoney Creek Vineyard Fair Play Bright purple.  Black and blue fruits on the perfumed nose, with notes of star anise, violet and black pepper adding complexity.  Coats the palate with intense blackberry and bitter cherry flavors, picking up spicecake and floral pastille nuances with air.  Velvety tannins give shape and grip […]

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December 4, 2011

Top 100 Wines, 2011

Top 100 Wines, 2011 December 4, 2011 By Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor “2010 Skinner Stoney Creek Vineyard Fair Play Grenache Blanc ($22, 13.3%): Winemaker Chris Pittenger is bringing impressive finesse to this new label from the Sierra foothills. This varietal Grenache Blanc, from the Skinner family’s estate parcel and the Swansboro vineyard farmed by Ron […]

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November 20, 2011

Pinot and Rhone-style whites for Thanksgiving: The Chronicle recommends

Pinot and Rhone-style whites for Thanksgiving: The Chronicle recommends November 20, 2011 By Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor “2009 Skinner Stoney Creek Vineyard Fair Play Grenache Blanc ($20, 13.3% percent): Newly established Skinner is helping revive the Sierra foothills as a top growing region, and Chris Pittenger is setting a California benchmark with this pitch-perfect Grenache […]

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Reviews: The Rhone Report

Reviews: The Rhone Report Jeb Dennuck, Formerly of The Rhone Report, Currently reviewing for The Wine Advocate 2010 Skinner Viognier Stoney Creek Vineyards The 2010 Skinner Viognier Stoney Creek Vineyards is 100% Viognier that was aged for 11 months in neutral French oak. It displays a classical, ripe Viognier profile with loads of peach, white […]

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June 19, 2011

A new Mother Lode: vintners rediscover Sierra foothills

A new Mother Lode: vintners rediscover Sierra foothills June 19, 2011 By Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor “There might be no better sign of the new ambition than Skinner Vineyards in Fair Play. Its ties to the past are evident: Founder Mike Skinner is the great-great-great-grandson of James Skinner, a Scottish miner who in 1860 […]

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May 27, 2011

High Tech & History at New Foothills Winery

High Tech & History at New Foothills Winery May 27, 2011 By Jon Tourney, Wines & Vines Fair Play, Calif.—Skinner Vineyards officially opened its new tasting room and “green” technology winery in the Fair Play AVA of California’s Sierra Foothills last weekend. Mike and Carey Skinner purchased the 67-acre property in 2007. Ranging in elevation […]

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March 3, 2011

Skinner Vineyards

Skinner Vineyards March 3, 2011 The Wine Travelers We had the opportunity to take a sneak preview of the Skinner Vineyards tasting room that will open in just a few weeks. With its panoramic views it will easily qualify as one of the “Best Views” of any tasting room in California. And that is just […]

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