September and October in El Dorado County means apples—lots and lots of apples and all the good things, from cider to pie, that go with them. But any time is a good time to visit some of the 50-plus family-owned farms, ranches and wineries operated by Apple Hill Growers.
They’re all located on the north side of Highway 50, with most accessible from the Camino exit just east of Placerville. Leashed pets are welcome on most properties, many of which (in season) cater to families with attractions ranging from miniature train rides and trout-stocked ponds to petting zoos and pumpkin patches. Before you go, consult a map (online or on paper) and plot a route. You’ll find more establishments open on weekends than during the week, but don’t be discouraged; you can’t visit them all, anyway!
Delfino Farms (No. 50 on the Apple Hill map) is where the Apple Hill coalition got its start back in 1964, when the farm was called Kids Incorporated (it’s since taken on the family surname). On the premises, you’ll have beautiful views over apple orchards and vineyards and, starting Labor Day weekend, can sample all manner of goodies at the Joan’s Apple Bakery. Be sure to try the new Henrietta Stitch hard cider made entirely from apples grown on the farm. Other kid-and dog friendly favorites include El Dorado Orchards, Boa Vista Orchards, Pine O Mine, Denver Dan’s Apple Patch and High Hill Ranch, to reel off just a few.
Seven wineries are included in the Apple Hill Wine Trail, but if time is short, consider visiting two situated not far off Highway 50. Boeger Winery, with its shady, terraced picnic grounds, is a favorite among those who appreciate laid-back atmosphere and rustic architecture along with big, flavorful reds. Bring a picnic or pick up some goodies in the tasting room, but know before you go that you’re going to want to linger. Nearby Lava Cap offers gorgeous, uphill vineyard views from its picnic deck, and you’re welcome to walk your dog between rows.
Apple Hill isn’t the only part of El Dorado County that welcomes autumn DogTrekkers. Check out the county’s Farm Trails Guide for more ideas on places to go and things to do in this region of Northern California. Dog-friendly establishments listed in the guide are conveniently marked with a paw print. Visit the El Dorado County website here.