El Dorado received its designation as an AVA in 1983. Situated on 410,115 acres, El Dorado is located in the Sierra Nevada Foothills in El Dorado County. Vineyards sit at a variety of elevations between 1,200 and 3,500 feet. There are three basic soil types determining the characteristics of the region: fine-grained volcanic rock decomposed granite and fine-grained shale. Each soil offers good drainage and the nutrients needed to encourage vines producing rich, deeply flavored grapes. El Dorado's mountain vineyards are perched at elevations high above the valley, where cooling breezes off the Sierra Nevada cool the vines. The high elevations mean the grapes receive more direct sunlight, thus ripening fully without retaining excess herbaceous characters or acidity that is out of balance with the fruit flavors. The region is known for its production of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Rhône varietals such as Syrah.