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Thursday, 13 August 2015 15:14

Wine Tasting On Country Roads in El Dorado County

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Saluti Cellars vineyard in El Dorado Co PicmonkeyRolling vineyard terrain at Saluti Cellars

TASTE News Service August 13, 2015 – Wine lovers and outdoor enthusiasts can choose sip, swirl, hike and savor a historically rich experience in El Dorado wine country. Located between Sacramento and Reno/Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County is home to more than 40 unique wineries and 2,000 acres of vineyard landscape.

Visitors can explore the region by driving picturesque country roads that wind from sleepy historic mining towns to steep hilltop vineyards. Adventurous travelers can plan for summer outdoor activities that include hiking, cycling, river rafting, fishing and gold panning.

Wine lovers will enjoy a mix of stunning vistas, rugged adventure and Gold Rush history paired with quaint tasting rooms of family-owned wineries that are producing some excellent wines.

There’s plenty to do in this area just east of Sacramento. Here are some suggestions for a three-day wine adventure:

Day 1: Fun in Fair Play

·       Take in the mountainous, magical 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.”

·       A short drive south of Placerville, the vineyards in Fair Play are planted in sandy, decomposed granite soils, which are ideal for many grape varieties.

·       Tip: Enjoy views, which can span nearly 100 miles, from the patio at Mount Aukum Vineyard and Winery. The curvy steep road up to the tasting room is worth the trip to truly experience high elevation winemaking.

·       Fun Country Drive: The Fair Play area features dramatic transitions – from rolling hills full of oaks into striking mountainous pine forests. Drive Fair Play Road or Perry Creek Road for the complete experience.

Day 2: Bite into Apple Hill

·       Enjoy the wine offerings of this bucolic wine area as you take in its agricultural splendor. Some of the area’s most historic and well-known wineries are located in Camino and Apple Hill, which sit just northeast of Placerville.

·       Foodies will find the diverse agricultural tourism activities a must. Summer brings an array of foods from berries, peaches, pears, plums and an assortment of vegetables that can be purchased directly from farmers at local farmers markets.

“Whether picking cherries, visiting local ranches, or exploring a range of unique wineries, there is always something new to taste and discover at Apple Hill,” said Ann Wofford, owner of Wofford Acres Vineyards.

·       Tip: Even the little ones can get in on the you-pick fun. Don’t forget your picking basket.

·       Fun Country Drive: Apple Hill meanders through old fruit orchards into vineyards hidden among the oak trees. Drive Hidden Valley Lane to capture this magical region.

Day 3: A Perfect Day in Pleasant Valley

Cosumnes River El Dorado Co PicmonkeyCosumnes River in late summer·       Sip, sip, hooray! Italian and Rhône varietals await visitors at the Pleasant Valley wineries. Located just south of Placerville, Pleasant Valley is marked with rolling hills, small farms and views of the Cosumnes River Canyon.

·       This portion of the region boasts marked elevation changes, which results in impressive displays of the various soils types that make up El Dorado. From granite, volcanic to clay, the region’s soils and elevations create a unique setting for its diverse vineyards.    

·       Tip: Like Syrah, Grenache or Viognier? Try some of the Rhône varieties from this pocket of El Dorado; Pleasant Valley is gaining attention for its Rhône-inspired wines.  

·       Fun Country Drive: this region sits in a valley between two mountain ranges. Drive Pleasant Valley Road to experience the remarkable harmony between mountains, vineyards and agriculture.

Fun & Favorite Side trip in El Dorado

·       All wineries in El Dorado are located within half an hour of Placerville, a Gold Rush town with historic downtown that features farm-to-table restaurants and main street shopping.

·       Tip: 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. A perfect place for a bike ride, hike or a family picnic.

Editor’s note: A comprehensive source of information on wineries is If you’re planning a visit to this part of the state, we suggest that you visit El Dorado County listings in the Gold Country sections of Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of many Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to the sites of Wineries and nearby purveyors of Craft Beers.

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