For all things apple, head to the Hill
For those who can’t get enough apples — whether as an ingredient in baked goods or still hanging on the tree — Apple Hill is the place to visit.
Apple Hill refers to a group of orchards and other businesses in the Camino area near Placerville that have gathered together as the Apple Hill Growers Association. The organization started in 1964 with 16 members; it now lists 55 members.
Wineries, a brewery, pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms and even a spa are part of the mix.
But this time of year, apples are the focus.
“October weekends are the peak,” said Ann Wofford, executive director of the growers association, who recommended that those visiting Apple Hill this month come on a weekday.
Although the association doesn’t have exact numbers, hundreds of thousands of people visit between Labor Day and Christmas, Wofford said.
The popularity of Apple Hill reflects a growing interest in “agri-tourism,” according to Sue Russell, director of tourism for the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce. Agri-tourism refers to attractions such as working farms where one can help milk the cows, or in the case of Apple Hill, opportunities to pick apples and watch them being processed.
“People want to have the hands-on experience and they want it to be educational,” Russell said. “Agri-tourism is huge.”
With this year’s “huge crop” of apples, and fall foliage that’s reaching its peak colors, visitors are flocking to Apple Hill from regions including the Lake Tahoe Basin and Nevada, said Maryann Argyres, president of the Apple Hill Growers Association.
Argyres believes the growing popularity of Apple Hill is built on the success of its ranchers.
“Success breeds success,” she said. “You’re doing it for the love of farming.”
“We will always be Apple Hill,” Argyres said. “It’s a lifestyle.”
When customers tell her how much fun they’re having picking apples, Argyres says she feels “satisfied of being where I am and doing what I’m doing.”
For more information on Apple Hill, see the growers association Web site at http://www.applehill.com.
Apple Hill Cake
This quick and easy recipe was provided by the Apple Hill Growers Association.
Combine 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup oil and 2 eggs.
Add 4 cups diced apples.
Stir together 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 2 teaspoons baking soda.
Add sifted dry ingredients to apple mixture.
Pour into 9″x13″ greased cake pan and bake for 1 hour in a preheated 350 degree oven.