Steppin’ Out Magazine
Spring/Summer 2005

El Dorado:
Fun Wine Country Getaway in an Outdoor Playground

If you’re looking for a fun Northern California getaway, and you love wine tasting and the outdoors, there’s a great opportunity awaiting you.

You’ll find it among the wineries and their beautiful surroundings in El Dorado County, an easy destination from just about anywhere between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe/Reno.

Besides being an outdoor playground for people of all ages, El Dorado is also home to the state’s sixth largest wine region and an ever growing number of wonderful wineries. With their award winning vintages and friendly tasting rooms, El Dorado wineries are earning die-hard fans among a steady stream of visitors in search of an enjoyable and easy-to-reach wine country getaway.

In fact, a trip from South Lake Tahoe to the heart of the county in Placerville – with its historic Main Street and easy access to more than a dozen nearby wineries – takes less than an hour. A drive from San Francisco is clocked at just over 100 miles; Sacramento is under 40 miles.

While enjoying the region’s scenery -- mountainous terrain, pine- and oak-studded hillsides, and panoramic views of vineyards and orchards – you’ll also appreciate its comfortable, year-round temperatures. In fact, El Dorado winemakers credit the terrain, sunny days and cool nights for creating ideal conditions for growing grapes from the world’s finest wine regions, including Bordeaux, the Rhone, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The region’s artisan winemakers skillfully craft these grapes into vibrantly flavored wines that are recognized by novices as well as collectors for their extraordinary quality and value.

During your visit to El Dorado’s tasting rooms, don’t be surprised if you discover it’s the winemaker or a family member who is pouring complimentary samples of the winery’s current releases. Feel free to ask questions. These folks are all too happy to share their knowledge about winemaking as well as tips on touring the region.

Keep your eyes open for special winery events this summer. On June 18, more than 20 El Dorado wineries will celebrate Summer Solstice by keeping their tasting rooms open late and serving wine selections, light appetizers and fresh California Lamb. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Food Bank of El Dorado County. For more information on Summer Solstice, a wine country map and other events at individual wineries, visit

Other local summertime events include the El Dorado County Fair, Third Saturday Night ArtWalks on Placerville’s historic Main Street, Farmer’s Markets and other activities. For a complete listing and visitor information, go to

You and your family can choose from a variety of outdoor activities in El Dorado County, including hiking, biking, gold panning, picnicking, swimming, and camping in the foothills or near pristine Lake Tahoe. Lakes and well-kept campgrounds are plentiful in the Eldorado National Forest.

The more adventurous can reserve a space for a whitewater rafting trip through the tumbling waters of the south fork of the American River.

In the city of Placerville, you’ll find several fine art galleries, friendly restaurateurs, antique shops, gourmet food and wine stores, coffee houses and even cooking classes.

History buffs will enjoy exploring the area’s roots at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma where James Marshall discovered gold in 1848. Other historic side trips include the Gold Bug Mine and the El Dorado County Historical Museum.

This summer, enjoy El Dorado for the day, or stay longer at one of the area’s historic B&Bs or hotels. Discover why El Dorado County presents such a golden opportunity for an enjoyable getaway.

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