The Sierra Foothills, east of
Sacramento, California in the foothills of the , goes by names like Gold Country and, the Mother Lode. It was gold that initially brought throngs of people here in 1849. These days the old western towns are filled with wine tasting, cavern and mine tours, golfing and river rafting, and historic charm. The rolling oak studded hills and ubiquitous cows meandering the landscape makes it feel like little has changed. In researching my new national travel book, California Wine Country, I spent time at each of these B&Bs and can attest, it was hard to pack up and leave. Each of these lodgings has a unique and personal touch yet are uniformly different in tone and feel. Happy trails! Sierra Nevada Mountains
Traveling south down Highway 49, your first stop is to be Eden Vale Inn (http://www.edenvaleinn.com/). You’re immediately transported to a lush green paradise. This old horse barn has been converted into an upscale, modern rustic retreat using European styling and sophisticated computerized lighting. There is an elegant functionality to the rooms, plenty of footpaths and trails to wander around the property, or row your boat on the little lake. It’s secluded and you won’t hear the rumble of traffic because this isn’t near anything, and that’s part of the allure. Breakfasts include with fresh fruit, baked goods and an entrée.
, the Albert Shafsky House Bed & Breakfast (www.shafsky.com) is a three room Victorian built in 1902. Two massive sycamore trees flank the entrance and once inside the wood wainscoting pairs nicely with the warm yellow walls. There are no TVs in the rooms as your stay is meant to relax and rejuvenate and you’re within walking distance of historic downtown Placerville , once known as Hangtown. The bedrooms are large enough for comfort and small enough to be cozy. Breakfasts are terrific. The Shafsky Eggs Benedict is typical of what they do: scrambled eggs on a muffin topped with sautéed veggies, feta cheese and lemon olive oil-marinated tomatoes. Placerville
Traveling south from
into the wine region of Fair Play, there is a severe lack of infrastructure. Happily, the Fitzpatrick Lodge (http://www.fitzpatrickwinery.com/) does the trick. A white fir log lodge rises from atop a hill over looking Fair Play’s pine trees. There are no phones in the rooms and no TV’s though there is a communal TV upstairs. The Winemakers suite is the best room, as it has the exposed fir logs, a private deck and lots of space. They have a lap pool located near their vineyard and Wi-Fi is throughout the lodge. Breakfast is made to order from usually four different options. Go for the sherried eggs, a traditional Irish breakfast. Since this is a winery too, you’ll have some ports to sample each night. Placerville
Driving south brings you into
Amador County and the best known wine region, the Shenandoah Valley, near Sutter Creek. The Amador Harvest Inn, part of Deaver Winery, (http://www.amadorharvestinn.com/) offers a quiet country feel in their four rooms in the heart of wine country. There is a living room with TV and a reading room with a fireplace. The best room, all of which are carpeted for maximum quietness, is the Zinfandel room with its small reading nook with views of the lake. Breakfasts include amazingly moist fresh baked scones, fresh fruit and an egg dish. They can make gluten free breakfasts, just ask. They often incorporate their port wines into their breakfasts, such as glaze on French toast, or lightly mixed in with fruit. You can sit inside the spacious dining room, or outside on the patio and watch the Canadian geese.
Driving into Sutter Creek, the Hanford House (http://www.hanfordhouse.com/) has two buildings right next to each other. The brick building is the dining area and common area with rotating local art, and several traditional rooms with period furniture and décor. But the suites, located in an old house next door, is all modern and cool, a hip interpretation of a B&B with four large rooms decorated with sleek-styling’s in contrast to the original hardwood floors. At the suites, coffee, warm scones and the morning paper are delivered to your room. At 5 p.m. there are local wines and cheeses for guests to sample. The chef prepared breakfasts use eggs from the chickens on the property, after which you can walk to anywhere in town.
The final leg of wine country B&B’s is Murphys, slightly east of Highway 49. Once there, the Dunbar House 1880 (http://www.dunbarhouse.com/) is a four diamond B&B located right downtown, set in a lush garden. Two rooms downstairs and two upstairs means you get privacy. There are fountains at the front and rear of the property so no matter where you go, the sitting room, the garden, the porch, you’ll hear the sound of running water. Once you enter your room you’ll find an appetizer plate, fresh baked cookies, complimentary bottle of local wine, beer and bottled water. The rooms all feature two person Jacuzzi tubs, towel warmers, gas burning fireplaces and antiques. Breakfasts are served by 9 a.m. and two of the rooms have private seating areas on the porch overlooking the gardens.