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It’s that time of the year to visit a special place in California

Don Quilici
Nevada Appeal Outdoors Editor

It’s October, so that means it is time, once again, to provide you with information to visit a special, nearby place in California.

If you’ve never been there or you are a newcomer to our area, this is a great time of the year to visit Apple Hill, Calif.

And, if you’ve never been there or are a newcomer to our area, you’re probably wondering: “What in the heck is Apple Hill?”

Well, Apple Hill isn’t a specific place, rather it is a large geographic area. It is a Growers Association of some 50-55 farms, ranches, wineries and vineyards, featuring all types of fall 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.

And, about now, you’re probably wondering: “Geez, how do I get to Apple Hill?”

Heck, it’s super easy: Apple Hill is located 10-15 miles east of Placerville, roughly a two-hour drive (85 miles one-way) from Carson City. Drive west on U.S. 50, through South Lake Tahoe and over Echo Summit toward Sacramento, until you reach Carson Road, just before Placerville. If in doubt, just remember to drive Carson to Carson.

Here is another important tip: When you make that trip to Apple Hill, why not do as we do. Knowing that it is a two-hour drive to reach our destination, we always leave early and then take our time getting there. Then, when we are done shopping and sightseeing, on our return trip, we take U.S. 50 back to Calif. S.R. 89 at South Lake Tahoe, so we can come home via Luther Pass, Hope Valley and Woodfords to avoid all that miserable Lake Tahoe traffic and to enjoy the fall colors of the Hope Valley-Woodfords Canyon area. It makes for a nice, Fall, fun-filled day.

As you have probably guessed by now, Apple Hill’s main attraction is apples and more apples.

Boy oh boy, do they ever have apples! If you like apples, I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. They have a bewildering variety and I’d be willing to bet that they have some types that you have never even heard of.

You can buy individual apples or by the bag or by the box or on some of the farms, you can even pick your own, right off the trees. Those farms have choices of green, yellow, red or even black-colored apples. You can select from a wide variety of different types including: Rome beauty, Arkansas black, Braeburn, golden delicious, red delicious, Fuji, gala, Rhode Island greening, Jonagold, Jonathan, pippin, Paula red, Granny Smith, winesaps and Stayman winesap.

Then, there are all kinds of various apple products.

If you have a sweet tooth (like me!), you can purchase things such as cake, cider, doughnuts, fritters, crisp, juice, muffins, baked pies, unbaked pies, frozen pies, strudel, turnovers, etc.

My personal, all-time, favorite Apple Hill bakery product is their unbelievably, thick, uncooked, tasty apple pies.

Pick one out, buy it, take it home in a cooler and pop that big pie into your freezer.

Then on a frosty, late fall day (such as Thanksgiving Day) or on an early winter day, take that apple pie out of the freezer. Defrost it, put it in your oven and in a short time, you will be enjoying an unforgettable dessert.

Just be sure to invite a number of friends to enjoy that dessert with you because those pies are truly huge in size.

If you are interested in buying other fall season fruits or vegetables, you can pick and choose from selections of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, Indian corn, dried fruit, grapes, honey, jams, jellies, assorted nuts, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, pumpkins, etc. Elaine’s favorite is the raspberries.

If you like to drink wine, the area also has a number of wineries, including Boeger Winery, Fenton Herriott Vineyards, Lava Cap Winery, Madrona Vineyards, Primus Vineyards, and Wofford Acres.

Apple Hill is a great place to spend an enjoyable day outdoors with the entire family. However, when you go there, a word to the wise based on our own personal experiences. Be aware that area is a very popular destination for thousands of visitors at this time of the year. They come in mind-boggling numbers in cars, pickup trucks, motorhomes and even in tour buses. So, go prepared to encounter huge crowds of people, on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you do not like crowds and if you are not into big crowds, you might want to go there on a weekday. We went on a Thursday, two weeks ago, and the crowds were not bad at all.

In addition, if you go on a weekend, you can have a problem (as we have in the past) in finding a place to park at some of the more popular farms. Their parking lots are normally jammed-packed by late morning or mid-day. So, plan to arrive early in the morning or you might have to walk a fair distance due to lack of parking at the particular farm you wish to visit.

More importantly, remember that while driving in that general area, you can encounter momentary gridlock in the mid-afternoons on some of the major back roads and at some of the major intersections. We have, on more than one occasion in the past.

So, don’t be in a rush, if you plan to visit the Apple Hill area on a weekend. Relax and take the time to enjoy a truly special place at a special time of the year.

Once you’re there, either on a week day or on a weekend, enjoy all that Apple Hill has to offer.

Why not plan to go there in the near future. It’s a ton of fun!

And don’t forget to bring an uncooked apple pie back with you to enjoy at a later date, such as on Thanksgiving Day.

Apple Hill in the Fall is where it is happening!

For information, call the Apple Hill Office at (530) 644-7692 or visit their website on the Internet at http://www.applehill.com.

Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon that he can’t tell you which are my two all-time favorite farms at Apple Hill.

If he grins and says, “Heck that’s easy. It’s Farm No. 1 (High Hill Ranch) and Farm No. 3 (Boa Vista Orchards) which are both on Carson Road,” you just lost this bet.

Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal