Published July 24, 2013

A little bit north of all the other Sierra Foothill wine regions (Amador and Calaveras) lies El Dorado County where the Shenandoah, Fair Play, El Dorado, and Sierra Foothills AVAs show off their juice.  The county’s biggest city for restaurants and places to stay is Placerville, which has the best of both worlds. One side of town has newer modern conveniences like quick food options, gourmet grocery, and, of course, Starbucks. The other side of town, probably known as “Old Town” has adorable western style buildings and structures, hotels, taverns, and saloons. Some of these beautiful historical structures have been converted into upscale restaurants serving delicious cuisines all in an easily strollable (about a dozen) block strip.

Placerville is nothing if not bursting with history and a sense of its past. In the gold rush days, law enforcement had not yet established in these towns and many people migrated to the area in search of wealth. Some newcomers were not interested in the labor involved in mining gold or working for their fair share. Many hard working miners lost their gold at knife point and murders became too common. So, the locals gathered to form a lynch mob and would reprimand shysters or newcomers with unscrupulous or unethical behavior. Because of these practices, Placerville became known as “Hangtown” back then, which may sound severe but was a way of life and, as you can guess, prevented criminals from trying anything crooked or visiting at all.

Today, Placerville is a kind, warm friendly place to stop for delicious wines and food. The only thing that may make you feel a bit out of place is how many gun, ammunition, body piercing and tattoo storefronts are smack dab in the middle of town. You’ll pass about a dozen walking about a dozen downtown blocks. But that’s probably just because it was once the badass of the mother lode.

More from my month in this region.


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