Bluebird Haven Iris Garden

During the height of blooming season, you can see more than 100,000 irises at Bluebird Haven Iris Garden in Somerset, CA, in southern El Dorado County.

On our way back from Toogood Estate Winery in Fairplay, the Vineyard Vixens stopped at Bluebird Haven Iris Garden. We do have other interests besides wine! Bluebird Haven Iris Garden is located on Fairplay Rd. in Somerset, CA, just a few miles down the road from Toogood in southern El Dorado County. It is open year-round but if you are able to visit the garden at the height of the blooming season, usually during May, you’ll be greeted by more than 100,000 irises showing off their vibrant colors. As you drive through the big green gate, you begin to pass by row after row of beautiful blooms. Once you park, you can walk through the rows of cultivated iris to pick your favorites. This gorgeous Victorian show garden is set on a small knoll. The rows of iris surrounding the gazebo and picnic tables make this a very inviting place to enjoy…

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Toogood Estate Winery in Fairplay

In May 2001, Toogood Estate Winery was established on a 40-acre parcel of rolling hills with microclimates perfect for the varietals hand selected for it. www.goldcountrycowgirl.com

Wine Tasting When I was in my 20s and married, my former spouse and I visited north coast region wineries quite often when we traveled to see friends in Petaluma. In Southern California, we had wineries in Temecula which I visited. Somehow, in later years, wine tasting became something I no longer did even though I really enjoyed it. I hadn’t been wine tasting in probably 20 years when I moved to Gold Country, so I was pleased to learn that the area has many award winning wineries. I have heard that wine tasting in the north coast region, as well as their wines, has gotten very expensive. Some wineries there charge as much as $60 for tasting with the average being $40. Here, wine tasting is like I remember it in the 70s. It is low key, with friendly hospitality. Wine tastings are rarely more than $5 and the…

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Volcano, CA: Perfect for a Walking Tour

Volcano, CA is an amazing little town in the Sierra Foothills. It is a living history lesson and is the perfect place for a walking tour.

How Volcano Got its Name When I first moved to Pine Grove in beautiful Gold Country and learned there was a town nearby called Volcano, I immediately wondered if there was an extinct volcano in the area. That, however, is not the case. The town of Volcano sits in a crater-like valley surrounded by small hills. Sometimes there is a mist that sits in or rises from the valley floor resembling a volcano. When the new settlers began arriving in their search for gold, they dubbed the town Volcano and the name stuck. History of Volcano Mi-Wok Indians inhabited the area prior to the arrival of the first white men during the winter of 1848. When the soldiers of Jonathan Stevenson’s New York 7th Regiment arrived and found a few flakes of gold, they decided to make camp until spring when finding gold would be easier. This led to the town’s first…

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Start on Steiner Spring Fling Wine Tasting

Start on Steiner is an association of nine wineries located on Steiner Road in the Shenandoah Valley. The group holds three annual Start on Steiner events.

Start on Steiner is an association of the nine wineries located on Steiner Road in the Shenandoah Valley in California’s gold country. As a group, these nine wineries hold three annual Start on Steiner events: Spring Fling in April, Summer Faire in August and Holiday Celebration in December. These events historically include complimentary tastings at each winery along with lite bites and wine specials. You can Start on Steiner at any of the wineries but, wherever you start at future events, be sure to pick up a passport. Once it is stamped by 5 of the 9 wineries, you can drop it off and be entered in the drawing for some great prizes. Sadly, none of us won anything. Members of our wine-loving Vineyard Vixens, a special interest group of Mother Lode Newcomers, recently attended the Spring Fling. Eight of us carpooled from Jackson to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley outside of Plymouth, about a 25 minute…

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My Gold Country Spring Bucket List

If you are like me, you see something fun and interesting to do, talk about it, then forget about it. At least that’s what happens to me with a lot of things. I’ve been doing better so far this year, checking out event calendars at least a month ahead and actually scheduling them on my calendar. Things are pretty quiet here in the winter. Oh, there are always things to do, but things really start to hop in the spring. There are some things I missed last year that I definitely want to do this year. Here are the events on my agenda so far for spring. My Spring Bucket List Start on Steiner – 4/9 Start on Steiner is a wine tasting celebration of spring put on by the nine wineries that are located on this historic trail. All 9 wineries will be offering a complimentary tasting flight along with lite…

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Cronan Ranch Trail Ride on Multi-Use Trails

We enjoyed a day of natural beauty a camaraderie on our Cronan Ranch trail ride. Cronan Ranch is part of the 25-mile South Fork American River Trail.

About the only thing I did a lot of in Southern California was horseback riding. My riding buddy, Nancy, was always ready to hitch up and trailer out so we were off on a different adventure almost every weekend. The eight weeks after my surgery, in the spring of 2014, was about the only time I didn’t ride and I couldn’t wait for my doctor to give me the go ahead to get back in the saddle. I had a lot of riding buddies in Southern California and at least someone in the group had been to almost every riding destination within a few hours’ drive and knew the trails. Trails were easy to find online and trail maps for the very well-marked trails were available. I haven’t found that to be the case here. My friend and riding buddy, Kelly, moved here about three years before I did. She…

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Gold Country: What and Where Is It?

Northern CA's Gold Country encompasses ten counties that lie along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, reaching into the Sacramento Valley.

Northern California’s Gold Country, also known as the Mother Lode, encompasses ten counties that lie along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, reaching down to the Sacramento Valley. Its name comes from the famous, or infamous, California Gold Rush of 1849 that occurred here. The beauty and scenic variety of this area never ceases to amaze me, with its rivers and waterfalls, dense pine and cedar forests, rolling green hillsides dotted with cows and horses, sweeping vineyards, natural caverns and so much more. And, oh the history! I’m finding that the more I learn about the history of the area, the more I want to know. A Very Brief History of Gold Country The history of California and its Gold Country is fascinating and is the stuff movies are made of, like Zorro, The Gold Rush, Paint Your Wagon, The Cowboys, and How the West Was Won. Prior to the…

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