California's high-country wines

snow at Lava Cap vineyard

Alder unearths vinous treasure from the land of El Dorado.

The phrase ‘alpine wine’ is on the lips of many a sommelier these days. Thanks to the exigencies of climate change, not to mention the surge of interest in lower-alcohol, higher-acidity wines, mountain-grown wines everywhere are having a moment.

Despite the lack of the word ‘mountain’ in its name, the Sierra Foothills American Viticultural Area (AVA) hosts most of California’s highest-elevation vineyard sites. And within the Sierra Foothills, a good many of those sites can be found within the El Dorado AVA, whose vineyards begin at 1,200 feet (366 m)...