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Apple Hill though the seasons

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Apple Hill orchards are flooded with crowds in the Autumn but select destination spots are open all year. Families and friends flock to purchase cider and pumpkins but when the seasons change Apple Hill doesn’t lie dormant. The following are just a few places that keep the doors open to visitors year-around.

1. Boa Vista Orchards , 2952 Carson Road (No. 11 on the map)

: (530) 622-5522

: Open all year

: Monday – Sunday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Wine tasting : Monday – Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Boa Vista Orchards, previously Boa Vista Ranch, was originally a potato farm in the early 1900s. Family-owned for four generations, it has developed into a bustling apple orchard. Boa Vista Orchards is complete with a train for kids, a pumpkin patch, craft tents, wine, sweets and a picnic area for families to sit and enjoy a picnic or lunch from Boa Vista Orchards.

“We do a lot of different things here and offer a variety of items. We are best-known for our apple pies, turnovers and apple wine,” said Brad Visman, manager of Boa Vista Orchards. The pies and bakery items are made from recipes that have been passed down generation to generation, he added.

Boa Vista Orchards is open all year. In the winter, there is an outdoor fireplace that visitors can sit in front of and enjoy the view of the snow-capped mountains surrounding the area.

“We offer something for every season,” Visman said.

What they Offer

Gravenstein, Gingergold, Gala, McIntosh, Mutsu, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Honey Crisp, Red Delicious, Cameo, Braeburn, Red Rome, Winesap, Granny Smith, Newtown Pippin, Fuji, Arkansas Black, Pink Lady.

Pumpkin patch:
There is a wide variety of pumpkins that are all different shapes and sizes.

Cost: Priced according to how much they weigh.
The pumpkin patch is open through Halloween.

Train ride:
The Apple Ridge Express is open on weekends. Kids and adults can ride the train together.

Cost: $3.50

Pond and picnic area:
There is a pond, grass with ducks and geese roaming about and picnic tables available for visitors to sit and enjoy beautiful views of the Sierra Nevadas while having lunch.

Craft tents:
There are arts and crafts tents that sell jewelery, bags, decorations, holiday gifts and more.

Pies: blackberry sour cream apple pie, classic apple pie, Dutch apple pie, Dutch caramel apple pie, sour cream apple pie, unsweetened apple pie, blackberry pie, blueberry pie and cherry pies.

Other sweets: pie dough balls, apple cake, caramel apples, apple brownies, apple cinnamon sauce, apple, blueberry and cherry turnovers, apple fritters, apple dumplings, apple strudel and apple donuts.

Fruits and vegetables:
Cherries, apricots, blueberries, peaches and nectarines, Asian pears, pears, pluots, plums, blackberries, persimmons, chestnuts, pumpkins, watermelons and cantaloupes, and seasonal vegetables. The fall vegetables include winter squash, yams and sweet potatoes.

Other treats:
Barbecue and meat sauces, barbecue apple wood (used for adding flavor to food on the barbecue), chutneys, spreads, jellies, jams, mustard, relishes gift packs and more. 


Lava Cap Winery
, 2221 Fruitridge Road (No. 26 on the map)

: (530) 621-0175

: Open all year

: Monday – Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and Easter.

The Apple Hill Growers Association includes seven unique wineries. Lava Cap winery is located on top of rolling hills of vineyards that are planted in volcanic soil, caused by ancient lava that has deteriorated over thousands of years. It is named “Lava Cap” after the topography of the site.

The soil is what sets it apart from other wineries in the region, said co-owner Beth Jones.

Lava Cap Winery produces 22,000 cases of wine a year and “has been a family affair all along,” Jones said. “Wines should be a part of your everyday life. It lends you to have a certain reflective time. We produce wine just for that.”

Lava Cap Winery offers a selection of 16 – 18 different wines. Previously a pear farm, the Joneses planted the grapes when they purchased the land in 1981. They grow grapes on their estate in Placerville and also have vines in Amador County, Georgetown and Matagrano.

Lava Cap Winery is known for its petite sirah.

“It is the most decorated in the state. Our petite sirah has won 13 awards,” said Ben Patterson, sommelier at Lava Cap. “People come here for the wine and because it is a great place to have a picnic. We have a deck and tables that both overlook the vineyards.”

What they Offer

Complimentary tasting:
Lava Cap Winery offers free tasting of five of its wines.

$5 tasting of limited reserve wines:
With purchase of any bottle of wine, the $5 fee for the tasting is waved.

A deli:
There is a deli that sells picnic food such as cheeses, salami, desserts, olives, crackers and breads. It sells complete picnic baskets for $15 or individual items starting under $5.

Picnic area with view:
Lava Cap Winery is welcome to visitors bringing their own food and enjoying a glass of its wine while overlooking the vineyards

Tours of the winery and vineyard:
Tours of the winery and vineyard are available by appointment. To schedule a tour, call (530) 621-0175.


, 2560 High Hill Road (No. 6 on the map)

Phone: (530) 644-5948

Season: Open All Year

Open: Monday – Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Family-owned since 1973, Madroña Vineyards has achieved making it feel like home while still being forward-thinking with it being 100 percent powered by solar energy. Madroña Vineyards grows grapes in Camino as well as Pleasant Valley with a total of 70 acres.

When visitors arrive at Madroña Vineyards, they are greeted by large pine trees, the family’s dogs and cats, picnic benches and incredible views of the vineyards. It is not a surprise to meet two generations of owners working side by side with the winemaker when walking into the tasting room.

“There are picnic tables scattered around so people can enjoy the scenic views. You can look in any direction and find either blackberry fields, vineyards, Christmas tree farms or pear groves. The [rural] land and the warm family environment pair to make you feel like you just arrived home,” said Paul Bush, second-generation owner of Madroña Vineyards.

Producing 25 different wines and 12,000 cases of wine per year, 70 percent of its business is done in the tasting room at the winery.

Madroña VIneyards got its name from the madrone tree that grows in the middle of the vineyards.

“When my father saw that tree, he knew the soil would be good for grapes. No one had ever done grapes at 3,000 feet in California, but the madrone let him know he could. If a madrone could survive, so could grapes,” Bush said.

What they Offer

Complimentary tasting:
Madroña Vineyards offers free tasting from a selection of 15 wines.

$5 tasting of limited reserve wines:
This includes a $3 coupon off any of the wines.

Picnic area with view:
There are picnic tables scattered around the winery, and visitors often get a glass of wine for $4 and enjoy a picnic at the tables overlooking the vineyards and nearby farms.

Tours of the winery and vineyard:
Tours of the winery and vineyard are available by appointment. To schedule a tour, call (530) 644-5948.

Snack plate:
For $12, visitors can purchase a snack plate that includes olives, cheeses, nuts and crackers.


For a map of Apple Hill Growers Association farms and ranches, visit the website here.

For product and attraction guide to all 50 farms, visit the website here.
For Christmas tree farm information, visit the website here.
For additional information on the Apple Hill Growers Association, visit the website here.

There more than 50 farms to explore. Which Apple Hill spots are your favorite to visit thoughout the year? Please share your suggestions and experiences below. 

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