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Placerville.

Why go now: Harvest time. Can't you just smell the cider, cinnamon, and nutmeg? Population: 10,350 2,000-foot elevation means: Intense fall color Nicknames: "Hangtown," for the way a couple of murder suspects were dispatched in the town's early days. Also "Old Dry Diggins," for its goldmining past. Varieties of apples: More than 50, including Rome Beauty, Pippin, and Winesap. Wineries in El Dorado County: About one for every variety of apple (eldoradowines. org for info and a map). Lunch with a view: Nab a chicken panini and couch by a bay window at Heyday Cafe ($; 325 Main St.; 530/626-9700). Don't miss: The Art & Wine Festival (6-9 Oct 18; $30; $30/672-3436); sample wines while listening to blues and Shopping for art. Landmark: The Bell Toweron Main Street, built in 1865 as a fire alarm. Miles from 1848 gold rush site: 8 Stay all weekend: The Historic Cary House Hotel (from $89, including breakfast; caryhouse.com or 530/622-4271).

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1. Like them apples?

You'll smell the fritters, strudel, dumplings, and pies before Abel's Apple Acres even comes into sight (just a slight exaggeration). On weekends and holidays, let the kids navigate a maze made of 600 hay bales ($2) or ride the ponies ($4) while you unwind near the tri-tip barbecue ($). Through Dec 24; 2345 Carson Rd., Placerville; abelsappleacres.

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2. Taste blood-orange olive oil

Plus rosemary, garlic, and Meyer lemon. Sample these extra-virgin varieties at Winterhill. Yes, we love the oil but also the bottles' labels, drawn by developmentally disabled local artists. Buy an empty (from $5), or BYO for a 40 percent discount. From $14 for 250 ml.; 321 Main St., Placer-ville; winterhillfarms. com or 530/626-6369.

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3. Swirl wine

Four Sierra Foothills wineries have tasting rooms at Camino Wine Plaza, about 6 miles east of Placerville. Chat up the winemakers while you sip their specialties: Syrah and Zinfandel from Auriga Wine Cellars, Pino-tage and Petit Verdot at Illuminare Winery, Malbec and Tempranillo at Garnet Sun Winery, and Pinot Noir at Findleton Estate & Winery. The free Sunday concerts wrap up with Late for Dinner (Oct 5) and the Parrot-heads (Oct 12). Free tastings; 3500 Carson Rd., Camino.

4. U-pick pumpkins

The O'Hallorans raised five kids--and pumpkins--on 30-acre O'Halloran's Apple

Trail Ranch. Pick your own through this month, then work off Abel's apple-pie mania by walking the milelong trail that winds through their orchards--apples but also pears, once the area's primary crop. Through Dec; 2261 Cable Rd.; Camino; 530/644-3389.

Getting to Placerville

From Sac, take U.S. 50 east to State 49/Spring St. Turn right; Spring turns into Main St. More info: placer ville-downtown.org or applehill.com

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Take it home

Half-bushels (20 pounds) of Rome Beauty and Golden Delicious apples for pies, jams, candying--or just plain snacking-- from Argyres Orchard. The only way to taste the fruit is to pluck it yourself. Get Concord grapes off the vine too. Avoid traffic by catching a free weekend shuttle (530/644-7692) at the Schnell School Rd. exit (48) or the Cedar Grove exit (54) off U.S. 50. Sat-Sun through Oct; $8 per half-bushel; 4220 N. Canyon Rd., Camino; 530/644-3862.
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Title Annotation:Day trip
Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Directory
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2008
Words:532
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