Just uphill of Placerville, California, is one of the most popular visitor destinations around: Apple Hill. Why? The beautiful Sierra Foothills area has dozens of ranches and wineries offering fun activities and festivals, as well as delicious produce, baked goods, micro-brews and fine wines. Complete with a spa and golf course, Apple Hill has been entertaining visitors for 50 years!
Because there is so much to do, taste, and enjoy, the peak autumn season brings lots of people to Apple Hill. Many of our guests at Eden Vale Inn love to visit Apple Hill, so here are ways to be savvy about when and where to go to get the most enjoyment out of your visit.
1. Visit in the summer! Summer is the time for fruit, and Apple Hill has it! Scrumptious nectarines, peaches, watermelons, and cherries. Plus real vine-ripened tomatoes, perfect for taking home or eating right there at your picnic. Summer activities include train rides, nature trails, petting zoos, pony rides, fishing, and more. Enjoy Friday wine sipping specials at Lava Cap Winery and Boeger Winery, and the Madrona Vineyards’ “Flights Dinner” at the nearby Smith Flat House on August 21.
2. Autumn’s heyday – visit mid-week! Not only will you get discounted room rates at Eden Vale Inn mid-week, but it’s also a great way to side-step the crowds while still enjoying fall’s apple and grape harvests at Apple Hill. By fall, all of the Apple Hill farms are open. Some of them have specialty apples. Larsen’s Ranch has the Rhode Island Greening, which is believed to be the oldest apple tree in El Dorado County! Hilltop Ranch features antique apple varieties, so you can once again have some of the apples of your childhood. Ask us about other special spots for your visit.
3. Mirror image – start at the east end! Take a look at the Apple Hill map (click here). See how long it is? Most folks start at the west side, closest to Placerville. Be different and approach from the east! You can enjoy all the fall pickings – including “u-pick” fruit – in a less busy setting. Make sure to check out the tasty goodies at farm bake shops. Hot tip: Our guests rave about Rainbow Orchard’s hot apple fritters.
4. Start early - Eden Vale Inn will give you an early breakfast! We know that sometimes there are weekend events that you just gotta get to. Let us help you with an early breakfast, and some good directions, to start you on your day early! Autumn weekend events include Johnny Appleseed Day, learning to make apple tamales at Grandpa’s Cellar, and the weekend quilt show at Smokey Ridge Ranch & Charcuterie. The kids have fun just going to Apple Hill, and also enjoy kids baking days at Apple Pantry Farm.
5. Go at the end of the day Yes, we understand — for some of our guests, an early morning is just not gonna happen. No worries! Go to the other end of the spectrum and visit Apple Hill late in the day! There are many fun evening activities in the fall and summer. If you start your visit when many folks are heading out, you can visit farms and then attend evening events. Try the lovely “Wine and Sunsets Music” series at Lava Cap Winery, “Evening in the Orchard” at Rainbow Orchards, and Friday wine sipping specials at Boeger Winery. Want food with that? Boeger offers a “Wine & Weenie Weekend” on August 2, and Madrona Vineyards sponsors a “Flights Dinner” at the nearby Smith Flat House on August 21.
6. Get off the beaten track and visit the smaller farms. There are many delights in the smaller options! The Sierra Foothills have an ideal growing season that gives Apple Hill apples a great flavor, on small and large ranches alike. Fall is the time for pumpkins too, and Apple Hill’s pumpkin patches are well known for growing some of the most amazing pumpkins anywhere. And don’t forget the spooky! Oct. 23 is the first day of Grandpa’s Cellar’s Haunted Nature Trail.
7. Come in September and November when crowds are lighter. The big Apple Hill Kick Off Harvest Dinner is Sept. 6, and the 18th Annual Kids Weekend is Sept. 20 and 21. November has a Harvest Run, Chestnut and Harvest Festivals, and a taste test weekend. All these, plus the usual autumn fun, can be found before and after the busiest month of October. For instance, love cider? Boa Vista presses and bottles their apple cider at their very own Cider Mill. Watch their cider making process and sample it on fall weekends. Fun and tasty.
8. Bring on the rain! What better way to clear out the crowds and let you enjoy the cozy wineries, sheltered farm stands, and indoor activities that abound on Apple Hill! We can tell you about prime spots for comfort in weather that will drive away the less savvy. There’s still plenty to do – let us help you with your “must see” list.
9. Come in the winter. Winter can be a wonderland in Gold Country’s Apple Hill. Most Christmas Tree Farms are open by Nov. 21, and many farms and wineries are open through the winter. Come up during the month of December and cut down your own fresh Christmas tree at one of the many farms on the Hill. Choices include Nordman Fir, White Fir, Silver Tip, Noble Fir and many other varieties. Warm up in a winery or bake shop.
10. Return in the spring. Springtime is a great time to get away to the hills and enjoy a picnic. All the world is waking up again, and the Sierra Foothills views at scenic Apple Hill are extra gorgeous with everything blooming. Some nickname it “Iris Hill” in the springtime!
Enjoy Apple Hill year round. Click here to contact us for more information!