5 Counties Worth Visiting in Gold Country – Pt. 2 El Dorado County

Today’s Gold Country destination is El Dorado County. The county is located entirely in the Sierra Nevada and ranges from the western foothills to the High Sierra in the east.

This is the location where gold was found for the first time!

Situated just a 45 min drive from Sacramento, El Dorado County is where James W. Marshall discovered gold in Coloma on January 24th 1848. Soon after, the population of the area exploded with miners hoping to strike it rich. Today, the area is home to more than 181 000 residents.

These days, the area is known for its wineries, 26 miles of biking and hiking trails, pristine public lands, glamping tents as well as fun outdoor water activities on the American River.

White water rafting has become a huge attraction in the area, thanks to companies like Raft California, that offer a multitude of organized excursions from a simple rafting trip to rafting and wine tasting, camping and so on. Rafting with the crew from Raft California, was hands down one of the coolest experiences of my life!

Talk about a thrilling adventure. I would go white water rafting again in a heartbeat!

The area is also filled with tons of cute farm to fork cafés such as The Argonaut, which is located just a stone’s throw from the river and the historic Sutter’s Mill Site, where gold was first found.

The first covered bridge in California was built in Coloma.

In addition to the protecting the rich history of the area, locals have worked hard at protecting the local environment and unique lands such as the Lake Tahoe area since the 1960 Winter Olympics hosted at Squaw Valley Ski Resort.

El Dorado County is an easy getaway to the Californian countryside for anyone coming from Sacramento and beyond.

For more information on El Dorado County, go here.

Tomorrow’s Destination – Amador County!

Twenty Valley Winter WineFest

This weekend the Twenty Valley Winter WineFest was being held in the Niagara region, one of many wine-related activities happening in the area this month. It’s an absolutely fabulous month for fans of wine, food, cheese and the speciality of the season: Icewine!

I was really excited to make it down to Jordan Village, located just an hour away from Toronto. This quaint little village in the Niagara region is super easy to get to. Though the temperature wasn’t ideal (it rained most of the day!), everyone had big smiles on and were excited to be there. Not only was it free admission but the event also had free parking for everyone and a shuttle service going from to and from the event.

I received a very warm welcome from organizers when I arrived. I was given a beautiful wine glass for all of my tastings as well as some tokens for food and wine. The event was very well set up: there was a tent for their cooking demos (Chuck Hughes from Chuck’s Day Off and Danny Smiles from Top Chef Canada!!) as well as a tent for all the wine and food sampling. They also had a bunch of food trucks (yay!) parked on the main street, a few vendor tents as well as a big main stage in the middle of the street where would be held all the live entertainment.

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I started my day by watching the welcome presentation on stage, which was immediately followed by a cute fashion show of local retailers. I loved the fact that everyone was all about promoting the shops around the area.

Not long after, the cooking demo featuring chef Danny Smiles began. Being a fan of Top Chef and all of The Food Network shows, I was stoked to see his presentation. He was super friendly and funny, he made everyone laugh and have a good time during his 1 hr demo. He was also gracious enough to pose for photos with fans before and after his demo.

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I then headed into the main tent to use some of my tokens (tokens could be bought for $3.25 each and could be used during the entire weekend to claim food or wine samples). Inside the main tent, 30 + premium wineries from the area had brought some whites, reds, sparkling and icewines for tasting. What I loved was also the food pairings that were being offered by some of the top Niagara area restaurants. It was great to see all the local producers having such pleasure explaining their wines to everyone in the tent. I loved hearing about all of the winemakers’ history, process and stories. They were even kind enough to give us little cards for free wine tasting and tours at their wineries.

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I was thrilled to see that the food and wine tent was packed pretty much all day long! Some of my favorite food was the Wellington Court Restaurant and Catering Truffle Parmesan and Lemon Arancini, Spicy Tomato Fondue and Kale Pesto as well as the Sticky Toffee Pudding and Sticky Bun dessert. Everything was absolutely delicious! It’d be hard to pick my favorite wine of the day but I did very much like the 2010 Mountainview Pinot Noir from Angels Gate Winery and the GreenLane Estates Winery 2008 Riesling Icewine.

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What was great about the festival was also all the musical guests they had. All day long, they had good bands (Hollerado, Treble Charger, etc!) on stage who performed either classic covers or their own original material. People braved the rain to go sing and dance with them. Fire pits had been installed in the street to keep people warm, a nice little touch!

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Though I did miss the barrel roll out competition and the Steamwhistle After-Party, I had an amazing day at the Twenty Valley Winter WineFest.

In you’re looking for something to do next weekend, the 18th Annual Niagara Icewine Festival continues with a handful of other activities and events. For more information, go here. Events will be taking place until January 26th