By TOM BENDER

This coming weekend offers a don’t-miss opportunity to expand your wine knowledge of Amador County.

Behind the Cellar Doors is a wide-reaching winery event that educates as well as pampers with good wines and food. Wine enthusiasts participate at informative seminars, check wine development through barrel samples, try winery family favorite recipes or enjoy music venues at the region’s wineries.

Amador is one of the most historic grape-growing regions in the state, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 42 wineries will open their cellar doors and pull out all the stops.

For most visitors, the wine is a big enough attraction but, on this weekend, the best highlights are the short educational seminars. Most presentations take place at specific times on both days, so advance planning is a must. And if there is a particular interest or topic, such as learning how to blend wines or try your hand at pruning a vineyard, you can benefit from various takes on it from different wineries.

Start your weekend early with a morning visit to Wine Tree Farm Winery with a 9:30 a.m. discussion on grape dormancy and pruning demo followed by a light breakfast and private wine tasting. Advance reservations are required.

Pruning demos are also part of the program at Avio Winery, Amador Cellars and Bella Grace Vineyards, with the latter also discussing its green movement and how sustainable, organic and being off the grid factor into its operation. Appropriate shoes are recommended.

Barrel building and influences of oak demos are always popular seminars. Karmere Vineyards will feature Barrel Builders Cooperage, who will discuss barrel assembly and actually build a barrel on site.

On Saturday, Amador Cellars will conduct a barrel-building seminar. Oak influences on wine are part of several winery programs, including Andis Winery which will offer limited seating on both days for a session on the impact of oak on wine flavors and mouthfeel. Renwood Winery will offer ongoing sessions on flavors of wines aged in different types of oak barrels.

For science enthusiasts, Drytown Cellars will conduct a seminar on sensory analysis and how to interpret lab results. Jeff Runquist Wines will let you test your nose with a Twenty Smells test as you try to identify 20 common aroma descriptors.

Turley Cellars will stage a tasting on the longevity of Zinfandel on Sunday, while Vino Noceto Winery will conduct a special library tasting of older wines on Saturday.

Blending is becoming a popular winemaking skill, and several wineries will share their thoughts. CG di’Arie Winery will discuss blending with a contest to identify three components of a special wine. Blending seminars will also be part of the program at Estey Family Vineyards, Legendre Wines and Scott Harvey Wines.

Food and wine pairing is a big part of the experience, and wineries share favorite recipes or highlight local food specialists with tasty pairings to compliment their wines.

Some wineries also feature live music and plenty of special wine discounts. It is important to check its website for specific times for many of the demos and sessions. One- and two-day passes are available. To get a peek behind its cellar doors, purchase passes or check out the all the 42 winery happenings at /www.amadorwine.com.

Contact Tom Bender at wineguy@goldrush.com.

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