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Sensational Sierra Nevada foothills in California

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Canadians don’t hear a lot about the Gold Rush country of the Sierra Nevada foothills, but it’s a marvellous part of California, with pine-scented hills, great driving trips, fantastic wineries and fun towns such as Angels Camp, Murphys and Sonora. Ironstone Vineyards is a popular winery in the Sierra foothills in Murphys, California. The vineyards turn lovely shades of yellow in the fall, as you can see in the photo above.

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The floral displays at Ironstone Vineyards are part of the draw. They have a small deli making good sandwiches and soup, and the wine shop/wine tasting room is a beauty.

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Murphys Hotel dates back to 1856. Gordon Ramsay recently did a segment of his “Hotel Hell” TV show at the property, which has been renovated and has one of the state’s coolest bars.

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The main street in Murphys is lined with old-time, wooden buildings and fun shops selling everything from the latest shoe fashions to outdoor adventure gear that’s ideal for exploring the nearby mountains.

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Sustenance Books sells new and used books and features a nice selection of material focussed on the colourful history of the California Gold Rush. The friendly (and sleepy) retriever is an added bonus.

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Hovey is one of the top wine producers in the Murphys area, with fantastic Rhone varietals and deep, red Zinfandels that avoid the typical “fruit bomb” approach.

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The staff at V Bistro and Bar in Murphys do a great job. It’s a small but pretty spot that’s part of the lovely Victoria Inn.

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The town of Angels Camp was made famous in Mark Twain’s short story about the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Winners of the annual frog jump contest are enshrined on the main street as if they were a Hollywood star. At least they don’t demand bowls of red M and M’s in their dressing room.

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Angels Camp features a series of glorious, old-time wood front buildings and has a great mix of modern and western stores.

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The drive on Highway 49 from Angels Camp to Sonora takes you past the beautiful New Melones Reservoir. It’s a winding, beautiful road that’s perfect on a fall day. Or spring. Or summer. Or ….

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