El Dorado County has various beautiful and charming places for visitors and locals to enjoy during the fall. With farms and ranches nestled in the Sierra foothills in El Dorado County, Apple Hill™ is one of them. But did you know that Apple Hill’s history didn’t begin with apples? It was all about pears when it all started.

Photo: Tommy Noonan | Delfino Walkin' Pie and wines | Apple Hill, El Dorado County, CA

The beginnings

Camino, in El Dorado County, welcomes a multitude of apple-loving visitors every fall. Up until the 1950s, pears prospered here. Fifty-two thousand tons of pears were produced annually! But the number fell to less than 9,000 tons by the mid-1960s as a result of a pear blight that ravaged the crop.

To deal with the challenge facing them, the farmers formed a coalition and started looking for another fruit to grow. Apples were found to be suitable thanks to the region’s climate. Rich soil and a lengthy winter chill provided an ideal growing season for the fruit. As a result, the trees in Apple Hill yield exceptional flavor. The growers established Apple Hill™ as California’s apple central, and the rest is history!

Larsen Farm Museum, Apple Hill, El Dorado County

Get a taste of history

If you want to get a glimpse of history, visit Larsen’s Ranch. The oldest apple tree in the County is here. There is an Apple Hill™ museum at the ranch, too. Then there is Delfino Farms, started in 1964. It’s a vital part of Apple Hill’s history. Ed Delfino, who was the agriculture commissioner of El Dorado County, formed the Apple Hill Growers Association at the time. Joan Delfino also contributed to the popularity of the farm. She introduced the idea of selling sweets. Her delicious Walkin’ Pie is sold there even today! The next generation of the family now runs the farm.

Apple Hill photo by john flinn 4

Photo: John Flinn

Enjoying the farms

From enjoying plucking fresh apples from the trees to having mouthwatering treats, your day at the farms and ranches of Apple Hill™ will be full of fun. Some of the varieties of apples available are Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, and Fuji. Pumpkins, plums, grapes, persimmons, and cherries are also grown in the area. Try Rainbow Orchard’s apple cider doughnuts and High Hill’s apple milkshakes.    

Something that was started by a group of 16 ranchers decades ago is flourishing today, and we have pears to thank for that! Visit the Apple Hill™ pumpkin patch, farms, and ranches with your friends and family!