Okay so I wanted to go to Apple Hill so badly once I found out about it. I love hills. And apples. So clearly it was made for me.
But let me tell you – it’s much more than that. Although there are many apples and hills involved. And apples in so many forms – (hard) cider, beer, strudel, pie, freshly picked, it goes on and on.
We couldn’t actually do any apple picking the first time we were there (all the apples are gone by like September, news to me), although we did go rogue and pick some off the ground on the side of the road. There were a ton of them and they looked like they were going bad! So I was doing them a favor! Otherwise they’d attract deer and other unwanted pests and the like…
The second time, however – I made SURE we would get to pick them apples. All of them. And you bet we did.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO?Go when the weather is less than ideal! It was cloudy and semi-rainy when we went and there was basically no one there (even on a weekend!). The first time, I went in early November (fall is the best time to go IMO, although summer has berry picking), and the second time I went in early September (the weekend AFTER labor day – I imagine that first weekend is crowded AF)!
I liked November better (September is still so HOT in Placerville! It won’t cool down until mid-October or later), but the apples were all gone. However, if you don’t give a flying fuck about that, then go in November on a cloudy/drizzly day. You’ll get the ultimate cozy vibez.It was amazing and we didn’t get any traffic whatsoever. In September, it was empty because we arrived around 2:30PM (farms’ opening hours vary, but pretty much all close at 5:00PM). And it was hot AF. And if you go later in the year (i.e. mid-Oct and later), it’s not as crowded, and the fall colors are prime (and it definitely checks off multiple categories in the fall bucketlist!).
Here’s a map, their website, and where we went (recommended by my friend’s roommate’s sister, who is an Apple Hill Expert; she suggested you go in this order to avoid traffic, apparently it can be really bad when the weather’s nice since the roads are mostly one lane):
DENVER DAN’S APPLE PATCH
They cut apples with an old fashioned apple slicer and you eat it off your thumb! It’s super fun and also free. So there’s that.
They also have bomb pies and other fun foods (their Apple Crisp Sundae is LIFE my friends). It’s just an all around cute little place! They also have apple picking, but no apples were left when we arrived in November.Update: I just came back from apple picking here! It was lit. They have buckets, and apples are $2/pound. I would suggest calling first since U-Pick apples tend to run out fast, and to find out if your favorite variety is currently ripe! At the beginning of Sept when we went, Jonathan, McIntosh, Gravenstein, and Gala were ready for pickin’.
Denver Dan’s does not have organic apples. If you want organic U-Picks, hit up 24 Carrot Farms or Sloan Winters Mountain Orchard & Garden! Definitely call first – U-Pick goes quick, so make sure they’ve got ’em before you drive all the way out there.
Their labels are the cutest. Their cider is amazeballs, as is their hard cider (not gonna lie, def bought it 99% because of the label, #basic), and their apple cider doughnuts are delish and I don’t even usually like doughnuts.
They also have apples you can purchase, among other baked goods. It has a “farmer’s market” feel, but it’s not too big of a place.
JACK RUSSELL BREWERYEven though it’s named after a dog breed, they don’t allow dogs. LOL. Go figure.
We did the beer sampler, and tbh their beers weren’t that great. BUT they have pumpkin beer which is fun (although they were out when we were there!), and the apple beer was cool.
There’s also a “cave” winery (pictured above) attached to the brewery which was super cool. However, the wine was pretty terrible if ima be real wit chu, and the cave looks a lot cooler in the photo.
This was by far the cutest farm we went to. They have a little nature walk (which we didn’t do because mud), but it’s on a hill overlooking a vineyard and a ton of trees, so I can imagine the walk is really pretty.
They also have farm animals, decomposing pumpkins (although I’m sure they’re fresh if you go before Halloween lol), a little bake shop, and fall gourds and mini pumpkins for sale.
BOA VISTAA really large farmer’s market type set up. I’d say only stop here if you have specific items in mind you’d like to buy. They have lots of veggies/fruits and specialty items, like pickles in vinegar and old fashioned apple slicers.
There’s also wine and beer tasting, but I’m not sure how good it is. My friend and I were going to try it, but my dad is a wine snob and insisted we go to a real winery instead.
HIGH HILL RANCH
Make sure you go to High Hill Ranch and not High Hill Farm – they’re different places! This place is HUGE. Lots of vendors selling things (that you probably don’t need, if I’m being honest, lots of little decorations and kitschy items etc.) and lots of food/desserts to buy. I wasn’t the biggest fan and would probably skip this if pressed for time.
Then we went wine tasting! We were only supposed to go to one winery…But then we went to three…I didn’t even know there were wineries around Apple Hill, but my dad is a wino, so of course he found a few!
MADROÑA VINEYARDSWe mainly went here because it was close to High Hill. And it was free! We did quite a lot of tastings for it being free – I was impressed. And a little drunk. But the wine was not that great, although the location is really pretty!
The wine was better here and the tastings were also free! Although I think they gave you a little less than at Madroña, but still a good amount! And the location was also really pretty, too. To be honest I haven’t really ever visited an ugly winery, so….
You should 10000000% go here. It’s outdoors, but they have heat lamps when it’s cold. Plus you’re drinking wine so is it ever really cold?
And the stand is ADORABLE (see above). This one costs money ($5) but they give you samples to try with your wine! Each wine is paired with a little bit of cheese, crackers, or chocolate.
And the wine is goooood. But that also could have been due to the fact that this was the third winery we visited…
HOWEVER, they have apparently moved locations since the last time I went! I’m not sure if it’s still as cute, but the photos they have up on Facebook still look really nice.
THE ROADSThe whole Apple Hill area is just so damn cute and pretty. Driving on the roads (especially during fall, eeeeek) is basically a destination in itself!
Have fun on your own Apple Hill adventure! And if you have extra tips/favorites, feel free to share! I want to go back next year in time for the apple picking, so I don’t get stuck with leftover pity ground apples.In summary, my favorite stops were:
- Denver Dan’s for their apple slicer experience, apple picking, and overall atmosphere
- Delfino Farms for their pretty scenery and nature walk
- Rainbow Orchards for their hard cider
- Chateau Davell for their delicious wine, good pairings, cute stand, and pretty scenery
If you really want to shop, go to High Hill Ranch and Boa Vista. They’re both huge markets with lots of items to choose from!You should definitely go to Apple Hill at least once for the experience. Have fun and tell me your favorite stops in the comments!