A short drive from Lake Tahoe, Apple Hill season is underway
While it’s not officially Apple Hill season, don’t let that stop you from traveling up the hill as several ranches are open with plenty of delicious fruit and other goodies to enjoy in El Dorado County’s beautiful and bountiful foothills.
One of those is High Hill Ranch.
“Normally we would open Labor Day weekend but the apples came in early this year,” said Kyle Bridgeman, manager at High Hill Ranch.
With so many things to see, taste and experience on this huge ranch, it’s hard to choose where to start.
Open every day through the season, the ranch features a restaurant and bakery that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. A long line of picnic tables overlooking the property make a perfect place to enjoy that meal with family and friends.
The bakery, in particular, is a favorite with the delicious fragrance of cinnamon, apples and caramel beckoning visitors to taste and purchase freshly made donuts, giant apple fritters glazed to perfection and other pastries.
This year they’ve added blueberry apple donuts to the menu with big chunks of juicy apples and blueberries in every donut.
Pies are another big hit with Bridgeman saying they will sell 50,000 of them over the next three months.
Caramel apple crunch is the apparent favorite pie they sell. It’s a decadent concoction of apples topped with a crunch topping followed by drizzles of caramel. Other varieties include pecan, pumpkin, dutch apple, sour cream apple and berry.
For those with special dietary needs, there are sugar free pies and vegan pies. Apple cakes and homemade cheesecake are also for sale.
When it comes to drinks, cider, apple juice, apple wine and apple beer are available and all are made on site from High Hill apples. Something new for sale is a pomegranate and wild cherry wine that looks so delicious it’s almost too pretty to drink.
Aside from all the prepared foods, there are lots of things to buy in their open air store such as veggie chips, dried fruit, apple butter, jars of prepared peppers and unique salad dressings you won’t find anywhere else along with bins overflowing with fresh fruit right out of the orchard. Bridgeman said more than 100,000 pounds of apples alone will be sold in the next few months.
Looking for some unique items for the home or as gifts? There are more than 100 vendors on site with all kinds of unique arts and crafts to choose from. For the adults there are wine tasting events. For the kids there is fishing in the nearby trout pond, pony rides, wagon hayride tours of the apple orchard and later in the year, a pick your own pumpkin patch.
High Hill is located at 2901 High Hill Road, Placerville. It is open now through Dec. 24, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sundays 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Another apple ranch you’ll want to visit is Boa Vista Orchards, which was jumping even on a Wednesday.
Boa Vista sells 20 apple varieties, although not all ripen at the same time of the year.
GingerGold, Gravenstein and McIntosh apples are on sale now with Gala coming soon. In September look for CandyCrisp, Golden Delicious, HoneyCrisp, JonaGold and Mutsu (Crispin) to be added to the mix. You can check out when other varieties come available on their website.
And don’t forget all the other fresh fruits available for purchase such as pears, blackberries, nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots and strawberries. A veritable fruit lover’s paradise.
The bakery at Boa Vista puts its fruit to other uses as it sells all kinds of pies, candy apples, dumplings, fritters and strudel.
For those who want to reduce the stress of holiday baking, one section of a wall is a freezer full of take and bake pastries, cookies, dough balls and pies. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here before you know it and what could be easier than taking a pie from your freezer and popping it in the oven.
Across the road, Boa Vista has picnic tables set up for visitors to enjoy the scenery while eating lunch. Items for sale include grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, tri-tip sandwiches, polish dogs and more.
To wash them down, apple, red and dessert wines are available for tasting. Also for sale is apple beer, cider and hard cider. Prepared goods to take home include items you won’t find elsewhere such as jars of red bell pepper ancho chili jam and apricot chili jam.
This weekend, Aug. 25 and 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is Boa Vista’s Annual Harvest Kick-Off Festival. Join them for freshly harvested fruit, a craft show, hot baked goods, activities for the kids and much more.
Located at 2952 Carson Road in Placerville, Boa Vista is open year round. Summer hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Another ranch right down the road is Goldbud Farms. Not shy about bragging about their fruit, they claim to grow the “biggest cherries, fuzzy and fragrant peaches, shapely and sweet-tart nectarines, jammy plums with zingy tang, crunchy-sweet pears and snappy super-sweet apples so big that three make a pie!”
Specializing in high quality fruit, 90 percent of their business is wholesale and only 10 percent retail with sales to high-end supermarkets in California as well to outlets in large cities across the country.
You can stop at their farm and buy fresh fruit or buy it online by the box with the fruit hand-picked to arrive when it’s ripe. Check out their website for instructions on how to order.
Located at 2501 Carson Road, Placerville, Goldbud Farms sells fruit that leaves an impression.