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Apple Harvest

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

As American as … Apple Hill, Julian and Oak Glen.

These California apple harvest destinations are famous for their cider, pie, strudels, confections and sauce, all made of apples, of course.

Even though the apple pie was invented in England, the following prove that nothing could be truer than the expression “as American as apple pie:”

  • In El Dorado County, Apple Hill is so popular that a free shuttle bus system has been established to keep the roads in Camino from becoming gridlocked on autumn weekends;
  • Ten restaurants serve apple pie in Julian, a city of 1,500 (San Diego County) and
  • Twenty-four varieties of apples are grown and sold at Oak Glen (San Bernardino County).

That’s just the start of why autumn adventures in apple country has become such a tradition for Californians. Presently, fall color is Just Starting, though the apple harvest is happening, and Americans LOVE their apples.

San Bernardino County color spotter Alena Nicholas was there, today, and sent these images, but no apple pie. C’mon, Alena, share the love. 

  • Apple Hill, Camino (3,133′) – Just Starting (10-50%)
  • Oak Glen (4,734′) – Just Starting (10-50%)
  • Julian (4,226′) – Just Starting (10-50%)

 

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

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Bracken Ferns – A Carpet of Gold

Bracken Fern, Kyburz (9/9/18) Walt Gabler

Bracken Fern, Kyburz (9/9/18) Walt Gabler

Bracken ferns are carpeting the forest floor near Kyburz (4,058′) with golden yellow color.

The Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) flourishes in life zones from sea level to 10,000′ in elevation and is found in meadows, pastures, woodlands and forests (source: Plants of Northern California, by Eva Begley, A Falcon Guide).

North Coast color spotter Walt Gabler was returning from a Search and Rescue conference at South Lake Tahoe, when their bright yellow color attracted his eye during a rest stop in Kyburz, near U.S. 50. 

Near Peak (50-75%) – Bracken – These showy autumn ferns vary, presently, in fall color from Just Starting to Peak, depending on locale. They’re near peak in Kyburz, off US 50.

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Earth Day Wildflowers

Winter Mustard (file photo) Bob McClenahan, Visit Napa Valley

It was a beautiful Earth Day weekend to be out enjoying California’s spring wildflowers.

California poppies and California lilac (file photo) Bob McClenahan, Visit Napa Valley

In the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma counties, the last of late winter’s yellow mustard blossoms have given way to populations of poppies, lupine and all varieties of colorful wildflowers, between the vines, along their edges, beside roadways and on open land.

The colorful springtime display, particularly showy in areas where last fall’s wildfires opened overgrown woodlands to wildflowers, has been nourished by the nutrients left behind by the fires. This will be one of the best years to see big displays of wildflowers because of last fall’s wildfires.

Western Wildflower  lists 17 trails in Napa County to hike for dazzling displays of flora. One of California’s best areas is the Missimer Wildflower Preserve, a protected native grassland. Across its acres of open meadows grow several species listed by the California Native Plant Society as endangered, including the narrow-leaved daisy, Napa western flax, Colusa lavia and yellow Mariposa lily, Calochortus luteus.

Sonoma County Tourism lists 10 Great Wildflower Walks with a colorful array of orange poppies, deep blue iris (now in bloom), purple lupine, white woodland stars, yellow columbine, pink shooting stars, golden fairy lanterns, red larkspur and lavendar clarkia (June) splashed throughout Sonoma County.

California poppies, Gwinllan Vineyards (5/22/18) John Poimiroo

In Sierra Nevada foothills, orange, red and golden California poppies are at their most glorious anywhere grassy slopes face the southern sky. The South Fork of the Merced River, from Mariposa to Yosemite National Park along CA-140 is considered to have one of the best shows, though the upper areas of the Merced River Canyon peaked in mid March.

HIKE OF THE WEEK – The 6.5-mile Hite Cove Trail, leading from Savage’s Trading Post (midway between Mariposa and Yosemite) is spectacular right now with profuse displays of wildflowers growing beside the trail.

If you plan to hike this famed wildflower trail, start early and carry a large bottle of water – you’ll need all of it. The trail is moderate to strenuous, though it has a bonus if you make it to the end… an abandoned mine.

Sierra foothills are carpeted with wildflowers (5/22/18) John Poimiroo

When you capture great images of California’s wildflowers, send them to us and we’ll post them here.

 

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Wine and Fall Color Pairing

Helwig Winery (11/12/17) Darrell Sano

Iron Hub Winery, Shenandoah Valley (11/12/17) Darrell Sano

Bella Piazza Winery, Shenandoah Valley  (11/12/17) Darrell Sano

Unless you’re a club member of one of California’s largest wineries, the welcome is often less than enthusiastic.

Not so in the Sierra Foothills. The wineries there are so lightly visited that the welcome is genuine and warm, and the tasting is often free.

Their hospitality, some extraordinarily exceptional wines and lovely fall color from late-October to mid-November

Counoise, Holly’s Hill (11/12/17) John Poimiroo

Maple, Holly’s Hill (11/12/17) John Poimiroo

make them a great choice.

Today, East Bay color spotter Darrell Sano and I visited the Sierra Foothill AVA, independently. He toured Shenandoah Valley vineyards in Amador County while I stopped in El Dorado County’s Pleasant Valley.

There, Holly’s Hill was holding a wine and cheese pairing, with cheese from an artisan cheese shop in nearby Placerville, which used to be called “Hangtown” for all the hangings that occurred there (the El Dorado County seat) in the late 1800s. Today, all that hangs there are sausages in the cheese shop.

Newtown Rd., Placerville (11/12/17) John Poimiroo

Bigleaf maple (11/12/17) John Poimiroo

At this time of year, Newtown Road, between Placerville and Pleasant Valley, is over hanging with bright yellow  bigleaf maple and orange black oak.

It’s the kind of scenic route that Darrell searches for among “the lofty hills and gentle curves in this somewhat hidden area” of California.

 

Shenandoah Vineyards (11/12/17) Darrell Sano

Turley Vineyards (11/12/17) Darrell Sano

Despite a late start from Oakland, he found “the morning light was still something to behold, illuminating the hills, intensifying the color.”

That’s why John Muir preferred to call the Sierra Nevada “the range of light.”

Darrell says that one thing he finds wonderful about fall is that “The quality of light at 1 p.m. is like 7 p.m. in summer… intensifying clarity and structure.”

He adds that though the Sierra foothills are peaking, its wine tasting “is never past peak.”

What Darrell enjoys most about tasting in Amador and El Dorado Counties are their  “bucolic hills, traffic-less roads, and no limos!”

You’re not likely to encounter backups as people pose for pictures beside their cars or with their girlfriends. You’ll have the road mostly to yourself, except for an occasional rancher, local or fellow oenophile.

As you motor, craggy Sierra peaks spray-painted white with fresh snow are glimpsed to the east, while the western horizon undulates with layers of purple foothills, scored by rows of vines.

It amazes me how many of California’s most famous labels grow zinfandel, syrah, mourvedre, grenache and viognier in the Sierra. It’s not something they brag about doing – “We grow our grapes in the Sierra!” – but they do.

Fiddletown (11/12/17) Darrell Sano

Farnham House hidden by fall color (11/12/17) Darrell Sano

Then, you sweep past workers picking olives, apples or pears. Harvest is still coming in, even if the grapes have long-since been picked. Darrell stopped and spent a moment talking to the olive harvesters and “relished the moment.”

In places you’ll find fall color surrounding 1855 Victorian structures, like the Farnham House in Fiddletown.

Soon after gold was found nearby, it got so busy that six stage coaches would stop there, each day.

“Today, Darrell was one of the few who stopped during his trip to pair fall color with wine tasting.

Sierra Foothills – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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Harlequin Color Pops at Jenkinson Lake

Black oak, Jenkinson Lake (10/8/17) Ahnalise Draper

Pacific Dogwood, Jenkinson Lake (10/8/17) Ahnalise Draper

Jenkinson Lake (10/8/17) Ahnalise Draper

Jenkinson Lake (10/8/17) Ahnalise Draper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jenkinson Lake near Sly Park in the Gold Country (El Dorado County) gets this week’s pick for Harlequin color.

Ahnalise Draper was on her way to the Hope Valley when she decided to stop at Jenkinson Lake, northeast of Placerville and take an impromptu hike around the lake.

She wrote that the “Scenery did not disappoint. The southeast side of the lake is especially beautiful” though is on point by pointing out that “in line with the rest of the state, it is a patchy display. All the leaves are close to reaching their peak with the lime leaves of bright aspens and oak spotted with some red, yellow and pink that are ahead of the pack.”

She continued, “The southeast finger of the lake is narrow and the beautiful blues and teal of the water are contrasted by dark greens of pines and pops of bright yellow from the trees spotting the embankment, definitely the best part of the lake’s scenery.”

The varieties that dominate this area are pacific dogwood, black oak and bigleaf maple.

Jenkinson Lake, Sly Park (3,400′) – Patchy

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Postcard: Peak, Peak, Peak, Peak, Peak

Apple Hill (11/19/15) Vera Haranto Fuad

Apple Hill (11/19/15) Vera Haranto Fuad

With with the possible exceptions of The Deserts and Santa Catalina Island, it is now peaking at all California elevations below 2,000′.

Apple Hill (11/16/15) Sarah Showalter

Apple Hill (11/16/15) Sarah Showalter

Apple Hill in the Sierra foothills of El Dorado County are canopied with color, as spotters Vera Haranto Fuad and Sarah Showalter found when they visited this past week.

Historic photos taken by Linnea Wahamaki and Susan Taylor (posted to our Facebook site) show the beauty seen this month in Nevada City in the Gold Country and at McArthur-Burney Falls State Park in the Shasta Cascade.

Seen from 800′ in the Sierra foothills at El Dorado Hills, the Sacramento Valley is covered with broad spotches of red, orange and yellow fall color, like a Persian carpet that’s been cast across the valley floor.

Maple, Nevada City (11/5/15) Linnea Wahamaki

Maple, Nevada City (11/5/15) Linnea Wahamaki

Maple, Nevada City (11/5/15) Linnea Wahamaki

Maple, Nevada City (11/5/15) Linnea Wahamaki

McArthur-Burney Falls (11/14/15) Susan Taylor

McArthur-Burney Falls (11/14/15) Susan Taylor

Red oak, Citrus Heights (11/16/15) Sarah Showalter

Red oak, Citrus Heights (11/16/15) Sarah Showalter

Ginkgo biloba, Agoura (11/19/15) Kathy Jonokuchi

Ginkgo biloba, Agoura (11/19/15) Kathy Jonokuchi

Blue oak, El Dorado Hills (11/21/15) John Poimiroo

Blue oak, El Dorado Hills (11/21/15) John Poimiroo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Showalter’s photo of a red oak ablaze in Citrus Heights is typical of the color to be seen lined along boulevards in Folsom, Fair Oaks, Carmichael and Sacramento.

Japanese maple, Ironstone Vineyards, Murphys (11/22/15) Bonnie Nordby

Japanese maple, Ironstone Vineyards, Murphys (11/22/15) Bonnie Nordby

Today, Bonnie Nordby strolled through a magical forest of crimson, yellow, orange and golden Japanese maple at the Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, and sent us this snap.

From the Santa Clara Valley (Silicon), Jennifer “JMel” Mellone contributed photos taken in Campbell

Wherever you go, California’s many urban forests are on fire. Color spotter Kathy Jonokuchi sent snaps of garden color in Agoura and Nancy Wright of Murietta send added some of Pepper trees in Murietta (both in Southern California), where exotic trees will continue to provide fall color (weather permitting) through the Thanksgiving Day weekend.

However, from Plumas County, color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb is almost longing in expressing that the fall color there has descended to the river bottoms. His brooding image of smoke rising through a forest of pine and black oak whose last remaining leaves cling weakly to spindly branches, is a nostalgic reminder that 2015’s autumn show has only days remaining.

Liquidambar, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Malone

Liquidambar, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Mellone

Ginkgo biloba, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Malone

Ginkgo biloba, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Mellone

Pepper, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Malone

Pepper, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Mellone

Pepper, Murietta (11/22/15) Nancy Wright

Pepper, Murietta (11/22/15) Nancy Wright

Pepper, Murietta (11/22/15) Nancy Wright

Pepper, Murietta (11/22/15) Nancy Wright

Black oak, Plumas County (11/22/15) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, Plumas County (11/22/15) Jeff Luke Titcomb

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Apple of my Eye

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

A sojourn to Apple Hill today found vineyards Near Peak, but orchards mostly patchy.  Some apples remain to be picked, though many are off the trees.

Because of the range of fall color to be seen, we’ll rate Apple Hill as Near Peak, though expect black oak to be Just Starting, other trees to be Patchy and still others Peaking.

Apple Hill is a harvest destination in the Sierra foothills near Placerville, 50 miles east of Sacramento. Numerous farm stands sell apples, fresh-pressed chilled cider, apple baked goods, preserves and folk crafts.

On weekends, all of the farms are open. Some have live bands and amusements. Midweek, a smaller selection of farm stands remain open. Additionally, several excellent wineries are located along a network of El Dorado County Farm Trails, among them are: Boeger, Lava Cap, Madrona and Grace Patriot.

Nearby is the historic town of Placerville. A must stop is Placerville Hardware, the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi.  It has been in operation for over 160 years. The store’s shelves are stacked high with things you never realize you needed until you visit.  Ask the clerk to show you the coin slot cut into the wooden counter where gold miners would pay for their shovels and pans with gold and coins.

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Apple Hill

Boeger Winery, Placerville (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boeger Winery, Placerville (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boeger Winery, Placerville (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boeger Winery, Placerville (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Persimmon, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Persimmon, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Orchard, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Orchard, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

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Toyon [AKA California Holly, Christmas Berry] (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boa Vista Farms, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boa Vista Farms, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boa Vista Farms, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boa Vista Farms, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

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Apple Hill Ripe For Picking

Apple Hill, Camino (11/2/15) Brian Patterson

Apple Hill, Camino (11/2/15) Brian Patterson

El Dorado County color spotter Brian Patterson posted this shot of vineyards at Apple Hill in Camino on our Facebook page.

Previously, Apple Hill color spotter Eileen Javora, a meteorologist at Sacramento’s KCRA-TV3, had tweeted about reds and golds appearing in the vineyards and orchards near the Boeger Winery in Placerville.

Looks like I’ll just have to head up the hill to do some wine tasting… uh, er, I mean to confirm Eileen and Brian’s observations.

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Apple Hill, Placerville, El Dorado County