Autumn getaways abound at Apple Hill |

Autumn getaways abound at Apple Hill

It’s the time of the season when visitors can get the best of Apple Hill off Highway 50 just east of Placerville.

Depending on the route, Apple Hill offers fun for families and couples, whether you want to enjoy the harvests of apples and pumpkins where they are grown, sample locally made wines, go for a scenic drive, explore crafts, or take the kids for pony rides. With the arrival of fall, there is no lack of activities at the orchards of Apple Hill.

“It’s just a good, wholesome place for people to come to,” said Evelyn Abel, owner of Abel’s Acres on Carson Road.

Abel’s Acres is a popular family stop where visitors and locals alike enjoy well-rounded weekend fun.

Aside from their store full of fresh produce and pies, Abel’s Acres has pony rides, a hay-bale maze, pumpkins, a barbecue, and an espresso bar.

For those wanting to make a quick stop and enjoy the best of everything, take the Carson Road exit off of Highway 50, which will drop you directly at High Hill Ranch. A short loop around High Hill Road will bring you past Fudge Factory Farm, Cardanini’s Pumpkin Patch, and Madrona Vineyards.

High Hill Ranch offers a variety of old-fashioned treats in its bakery, including turn-overs, pies, apple donuts, jams and apple butter.

If 65 different flavors of home-made fudge sounds like your style of fun, the Fudge Factory Farm, open seven days a week through mid-December, will satisfy any sweet tooth.

Fudge Factory owner, Jean Reinder, said she and her family are raising more and more of the berries and nuts for their chocolate goodies.

“We are trying to grow most of our products that we put in the fudge,” Reinder said.

At Cardanini’s Pumpkin Patch, the many different varieties of pumpkins are cut and left where they were grown, so customers can take their family adventure through the acres of pumpkins.

While at Madrona Vineyards, visitors can sample shiraz, chardonnay, gewurztraminer, merlot, and other vineyard wines.

“Almost everything is estate bottled,” said Leslie Bush, one of the vineyard’s founders.

Most of the wine tasting is complimentary, but visitors can sample Madrona’s reserve wines for $5 and take home a wine glass.

If you are interested in an exploration of orchards and a scenic drive, take the Schnell School exit when coming down Highway 50. Take a left on Schnell School Road, turn right on Carson Road, and begin the adventure.

Driving down Carson Road, you will parallel the highway, while a left turn onto North Canyon Road or Larsen Drive will bring you deeper into the heart of apple country, where you can stop at any number of orchards.

The Apple Hill Grower’s Association boasts roughly 40 apple orchards, not to mention its vineyards, Christmas tree farms, and berry farms.

Cameron Billeci, 46, of Rancho Cordova finds the visit up to Apple Hill a relief from city life.

“I come up to get away from the heat, and just to smell the aroma of the pines and the apples,” Billeci said.

The Apple Hill Grower’s Association yearly publication the “Cider Press,” containing event information and maps can also be picked up at most of the orchards.

For more information about Apple Hill, call 644-7692 or visit on the Web.

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