Amador County was established in 1854, and later ceded portions of its territory to form Calaveras, El Dorado and Alpine counties. The county is named for José María Amador, a soldier, rancher and miner who established a gold mining camp in 1848 near current-day Amador City.
The county was one of the most active gold-producing areas during the Gold Rush, and several mines were later established. The Kennedy Mine, located near Jackson, was the deepest gold mine of its era. During the Gold Rush the county's Shenandoah Valley become an important wine-producing region, although the region's wineries were decimated by the decline in gold production and the Prohibition era. Today, the area has recovered, and over forty wineries are in operation. The region is best known for its Zinfandel, with the Grandpère vineyard dating back to 1869 and believed to be the oldest Zinfandel vineyard in America
Take Interstate 5 or State Route 99 toward Sacramento and exit on Eight Mile Road, north of Stockton. Drive east to the junction of Eight Mile and State Route 88, turn left (north). Just a mile east of Clements, take the SR 88 split north (left).
- 1 El Dorado County - The name of Amador County's northern neighbor translates from Spanish as "the gilded/golden", an appropriate title for the county where the California Gold Rush was kicked off after a discovery at Sutter's Mill (near Coloma) in 1848. The county's attractions include mountain scenery, gold mining history, the impossibly blue waters of Lake Tahoe, backpacking opportunities in the Desolation Wilderness, and epic skiing in the South Lake Tahoe area.
- 2 Alpine County - Located east of Amador County, sparsely populated Alpine County advertises itself with the slogan "two people per square mile and you", making it a good option for a quiet mountain getaway. Attractions include the hot spring pools at Grover Hot Springs State Park, amazing views of the Sierras from the Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway, and the excellent winter skiing at Kirkwood Mountain Resort.
- 3 Calaveras County - South of Amador County lies sparsely populated Calaveras County, which inspired author Mark Twain's first successful story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"; today visitors can both visit Twain's cabin and enjoy the annual Jumping Frog Jubilee in the tiny town of Angels Camp. The county is also home to several natural caves, a handful of wineries, Gold Rush history, and giant sequoia trees in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
- 4 San Joaquin County - San Joaquin County lies to the southwest of Amador County on the eastern edge of the California Delta, an estuary formed by the confluence of the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers. Nicknamed "California's Holland" due to the extensive levee system, the area is an interesting place to explore by car or boat. Stockton is the county's largest city and is notable for being the world's most inland natural seaport.
- 5 Sacramento County - Bordering Amador County to the west, Sacramento County stretches from the wetlands at the edge of the San Francisco Bay to the rolling hills of Gold Country. The Sacramento and American Rivers played prominent roles in the county's development, and today offer outdoor opportunities ranging from boating to fishing to birdwatching. The capital city of Sacramento is located at the rivers' confluence, and visitors will appreciate its historic districts and more than 25 museums.