As Summer is winding down, and we’re all looking for one last hurrah before returning to the grind, we decided to revisit a hidden gem wine region we profiled back in February 2015. If a wine adventure is what you’re seeking, look no further than El Dorado for a quick getaway that offers not just (delicious) grape juice, but something for everyone, whether wine lover, foodie, outdoor enthusiast or all of the above.
The county, located between Sacramento and Reno/Lake Tahoe, is not only home to more than 40 wineries and 2,000 acres of vineyard landscape, it also offers plenty of outdoor options for fans of hiking, cycling, river rafting, fruit picking and gold panning.
While a great resource for planning a trip to the area can be found at www.eldoradowines.org, below are some ideas on ways to explore the area:
Fun in Fair Play
Take in the mountainous terrain of Fair Play, nestled in the Sierra Foothills at elevations ranging between 2,000 and 3,000 feet. Picnic, hike, and discover “wines with altitude.”
The patio at Mount Aukum Winery boasts views that can span nearly 100 miles. The steep, curvy road up to the tasting room is worth the trip to truly experience high-elevation winemaking.
Wineries located in or near Fair Play include: Busby Cellars, Cantiga Wineworks, Cedarville Vineyard, Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards, Colibri Ridge Winery & Vineyard, C.G. di Arie, Gold Mountain Winery & Lodge, Gwinllan Estate, Mastroserio Winery, Mount Aukum Winery, Latcham Vineyards, Perry Creek Winery, Saluti Cellars, Shadow Ranch Vineyard, Single Leaf Vineyards & Winery, Skinner Vineyard & Winery, Windwalker Vineyard.
Bite into Apple Hill
Some of the area’s most historic and well-known wineries are located in Camino and Apple Hill, which sit just northeast of Placerville.
The area offers unique agritourism activities, including famers markets and fruit picking. Summer brings all sorts of delicious offerings, from berries, peaches, pears, plums and an assortment of veggies. Even the little ones can get in on the you-pick fun.
Wineries in Apple Hill include: Boeger Winery, Bumgarner Winery, Chateau Davell, Crystal Basin Cellars, diVittorio Winery, Fenton Herriott Vineyards, Findelton Estate, Grace Patriot, Illuminare Winery, Jodar Winery, Lava Cap Winery, Madroña Vineyards, Wofford Acres Vineyards.
A Perfect Day in Pleasant Valley
Pleasant Valley wineries are most famous for their Italian and Rhône varietals. Located just south of Placerville, Pleasant Valley is marked with rolling hills, small farms and views of the Consumnes River Canyon.
This region sits in a valley between two mountain ranges. Drive Pleasant Valley Road to experience the remarkable harmony between mountains, vineyards and agriculture.
Shop, Eat, Wine, Repeat
All wineries in El Dorado are located within 30 minutes of Placerville, a Gold Rush town with a historic downtown that features farm-to-table restaurants and main street shopping.
Driving north from Placerville on Hwy 49, bring the kids to visit the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma, where James Sutter first discovered gold in 1848.
There are several notable wineries worth the trip in the Greater El Dorado area. They include: Cielo Estate, David Girard Vineyards, Everhart Cellars/Hart2Hart Vineyards, Nello Olivo, Gold Hill Vineyard
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Photo Credit: Sarah Ackerman