J. Foster Mitchell winery tasting room

Winemaker, Charles B. Mitchell has arrived to Amador County’s Shenadoah Valley near Plymouth, Ca. having recently purchased Bantam Cellars and renaming the winery, J. Foster Mitchell after his father, a former educator. Charles’ theme for his new winery is summed up in the phrase “An Education in Wine”. Mr. Mitchell is no stranger to wine making as he also owns two other wineries: Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards and Winery by the Creek, both located in Fair Play, Ca. in nearby El Dorado County and his wines have done very well in wine competitions garnering some double golds along the way.

Charles B. Mitchell showing old glass technology for sparkling wines.

As Cathy and I drive down Shenandoah Road all the time, we noticed the new J. Foster Mitchell sign outside the winery and decided to venture inside. We were quickly greeted by a friendly and knowledgeable staff. In addition to sampling their wines from the wine bar, we were offered barrel tasting from five different wines. They have barrel tasting available Friday through Sunday in their wine tasting room and sell “futures” at a discounted price. This is a very economical way to purchase high quality wines at a very affordable price as you must wait for the “futures” to be later released. I have always found that if I like a young wine from the barrel, I will love it from the bottle when it has matured and is released. So far, I have never been disappointed in this regard. Maybe I’m just lucky or maybe there is something to it.

Cathy with Charles B. Mictchell, owner of J. Foster Mitchell winery named after his father.

As an additional treat, we were informed that true to his new winery’s slogan, the owner, Charles B. Mitchell, himself would be conducting an educational seminar on “Champagnes and other Sparkling Wines.” Intrigued, Cathy and I, along with other wine enthusiasts returned at 5:00 p.m. and were greeted by a smiling Charles with a gleam in his eye as he quickly immersed us in the history and development of champagnes and sparkling wines. He shared some humorous stories of his travels to Champagne, France and elsewhere. He actually demonstrated for us “Disgorgement” a skilled manual process where the crown cap and the “lees”(the dead yeast) are removed from a bottle of sparkling wine without losing much of the liquid in the bottle. We then sampled the disgorged sparkling wine which was quite good even though it had not yet received its “Dosage” (generally, but not always sugar) which is the final process completing a sparkling wine. Charles also showed his expertise using an actual sword to open another bottle of sparkling wine to the amazement and delight of all those in attendance.

Charles successfully opens bottle of sparkling wine with a sword.



The seminar was very enlightening and fun as Charles’ passion for wine making and its history clearly showed through his presentation. He intends to continue his “Education in Wine” with frequent seminars in the future which we definitely look forward to attending. For more information on J. Foster Mitchell winery you can reach them at (209) 245-6671 or E-Mail them at . Their new J. Foster Mitchell winery website is currently still under construction. I will share it with everyone once it is up and running.

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  1. Rachel Cargill - COUNTRYWITHCLASS, Event Planner & Entertainer says:

    Charles, For over 20 years I have truly enjoyed your wines and you always surprise me with something new. Congrats on your new venture at J. Foster Mitchell Winery, Amador County.
    Rachel Cargill

  2. Kathe Barnett says:

    I’m looking forward to learning from Mr. Mitchell’s expertise and hearing more about Champagne tours!

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