The Vixens Play at Bray: Bray Vineyards

Earlier in September, the Vineyard Vixens toasted another year of wine tasting adventures, beginning with Bray Vineyards.

The Vineyard Vixens, the wine tasting group of the Mother Lode Newcomers, goes on hiatus for the summer. Earlier in September, we toasted another year of tasting adventures, beginning with Bray Vineyards. Some members of our group had been before but most had not, including me. We started our day with lunch at Villa Toscano as we often do. The buffet included a pasta dish that we all fell in love with. I asked Executive Chef Tim Benham for the recipe so he came out to our table and explained how he made it. It was so delicious and relatively easy. He didn’t give us any specific amounts of each ingredient so I will be working on replicating that recipe to include on the blog at a later date. After a leisurely lunch filled with laughter, food and a little Toscano wine, we headed for our tasting at Bray Vineyards.…

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Best Amador County October Activities

With summer activities winding down, there is still so much to do that it is hard to choose. Here's my list of best Amador County October Activities.

With fall just around the corner, one week from today in fact, outdoor summer activities are starting to wind down in Amador County. Even the weather has given us a taste of fall the past few days, but just because summer is winding down doesn’t mean there will be any shortage of things to do! There will still be plenty of theater productions, festivals and fairs, art and craft shows, comedy nights, fundraisers, parties, parades, mine and cavern tours, and of course wine tasting. Some weekends it is difficult to choose what to do. Here are my thoughts on the best Amador County October activities. The Big Crush Harvest Festival The 45 member wineries of the Amador Vintners’ Association host two group events every year. The first weekend in March is Behind the Cellar Door. Coming up the first weekend in October is The Big Crush, the annual harvest festival. This is a very…

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Old West Music at Scofield’s Cowboy Campfire

View of crowd from stage at Scofield's Cowboy Campfire - Experience the old American West at Scofield's Cowboy Campfire in Fiddletown, CA, with a chuck wagon dinner and cowboy music from world-renowned performers.

Back in March I went to see Dave Stamey at The Call in Pine Grove. I had been wanting to see him for years but I kept missing him when I lived in Southern California and he performed there. The Call is just a few minutes drive from my house and a great venue for a concert. It’s intimate and has a terrific sound system. I was excited to hear that he would be performing so close to home and I definitely was not disappointed. I enjoyed his performance so much that when I learned he would be at Scofield’s Cowboy Campfire at Red Mule Ranch in August, I planned right then to see him again. I hadn’t been to Scofield’s so I would be getting two for one, so to speak. Scofield’s Cowboy Campfire In July, I saw Slade Rivers at a Roaring Camp Saturday Night Cookout so I had an inkling of…

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Anje Olmstead Collage Artist

Local artist Anje Olmstead brought her collage art class to a lunch meeting of our Saucy Sisters cooking group. Learn more about Anje Olmstead and her art.

Every month I am amazed at how creative the hostesses of the Saucy Sister’s cooking group are with the monthly meeting activities. At one meeting, we made two kinds of liqueur and everyone got to take home a bottle of each. One time we made fudge and had lots of samples to take home. We have made recipes from around the world and even had an elegant tea party. Last month, we made lavender wands then cooked pizza in an outdoor oven. I hear sourdough is in our future. Anje Olmstead, Fine Artist We are very lucky to have so many talented women in our group including local artist Anje Olmstead. Anje and her husband have lived in Pioneer for five years. Her husband, Dennis, wanted to move from the Fair Oaks/Sacramento area to above the snow level. He missed the cold, snowy winters of Duluth. Anje’s art career began at the age of 30 when she…

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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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