Outdoors with Don Q: Head for Apple Hill for Fruit, Veggies and Wines
If you are a newcomer to that area or if you have never been there, the fall season is a great time of the year to visit Apple Hill.
And, if you are a newcomer to our area, you are probably wondering, “What and where in the heck is Apple Hill?”
Well, the correct answer is: “Apple Hill is not a specific hill or a specific location; on the contrary, it is a large geographic area in California.”
Apple Hill is a California Growers Association of some 50 farms, ranches, orchards, wineries and vineyards featuring all kinds of fruits, vegetables, bakery products, cider mills, arts and crafts shops, wines, picnic areas, pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, a micro-brewery and even a Rainbow Trout fishing pond.
Yep, you can even catch rainbow trout while your wife is busy buying fall fruits, vegetables, bakery products, wines and souvenirs. How about that for a winning combination?!?
Apple Hill is located approximately 10 to 15 miles east of Placerville. It is about a two hour drive; and it is easy to reach: Just take U.S. 50 from Carson City to the Carson Road Exit. Just remember: Carson to Carson.
As you have probably guessed by now, Apple Hill’s main attraction is apples, and boy oh boy, do they have apples, apples and more apples!
That area has a bewildering array of all kinds of apples, and I’d be willing to bet that there are some types that you have never heard of or seen.
You can buy individual apples, by the bag, by the box, or on some of the farms, you can even pick your own apples, right off the trees.
There are green, yellow, red and even black-colored apples, and you can pick and choose from a wide variety including Arkansas Black, Empire, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Jonathan, McIntosh, Mutsu, Pippen, Pink Lady, Paula Red, Red Delicious, Red Gold, Rome Beauty and Winesap. How’s that for choices?!?
If you have a sweet tooth, you can also select from all kinds of apple “goodies” such as doughnuts, cakes, pies (baked and unbaked), fritters, crisps, muffins, strudels, turnovers, juice, cider, etc.
You might want to buy one of their unbaked apple pies (my personal favorite), take it home and put it in the freezer. Then some cold winter night, bake a tasty dessert treat as a reminder of your visit to Apple Hill.
Other Fall Products
If you are interested in buying other fall fruits and vegetables, you can choose from Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Corn, Grapes, Nuts, Peaches, Pears (Asian, Bartlett, Bosc and El Dorado), Plums, Persimmons, Pumpkins, Squash, plus honey, jams, jellies, dried fruits, etc., etc.
Wines and Beers
The area also has a number of fine wineries and vineyards where you can purchase different kinds of wines and beers. Those wines and beers include: Apple Beer, Apple Wine, Blackberry Beer, Chardonnay, Dessert Wines, Grenache, Hard Cider, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Syrah, White Blends and Zinfandel, just to name a few.
The wineries and vineyards are Boa Vista Orchards, Boeger Winery, Fenton Herriott Vineyards, Grace Patriot Wines, Lava Cap Winery, Madrona Vineyards, Jack Russell Farm Brewery and Winery, Rainbow Orchards, Wofford Acres Vineyards, Honey Bear Ranch and Paravi Vineyards.
A Word to the Wise
Apple Hill is a great place to spend an entire day outdoors with the family. However, here is a word to the wise based on our personal experiences: Be aware that Apple Hill is a very popular destination for thousands of visitors in the fall, especially on weekends.
They come in mind-boggling numbers by way of bikes, motorcycles, cars, pickup trucks, vans, SUV’s, motorhomes and even in tour buses. So, go prepared for huge crowds, especially on Saturdays and Sundays.
In addition, if you do go on a Saturday or Sunday, you could have a problem finding a place to park your vehicle at some of the more popular farms.
You might want to arrive early in the morning or you could have to walk a fair distance to the specific farm you want to visit.
More importantly, remember that while driving around in the Apple Hill area on a weekend, you can expect to encounter momentary grid lock in the early afternoons at some of the major intersections and major back roads.
Don’t be in a rush: Relax, take it easy and enjoy the experience.
Once you are at Apple Hill, take the time to enjoy all that it has to offer.
Why not plan to go there and have a fun-filled day.
Apple Hill in the fall is “Where it’s happening!”
Geez, what can be better than munching on an apple bakery product while trying to catch a rainbow trout? It doesn’t get much better than that.
Call the Apple Hill Office at (530) 644-7692 or go to the Apple Hill internet website at www.applehill.com.
Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you my favorite lunch combination while visiting at Apple Hill.
If he grins and says, "It is a glass of apple cider, a juicy hamburger and a tasty apple fritter," he has accompanied me there in the past.