Monthly Archives: September 2013

Community Profiles – Small Towns East of Georgetown

Georgetown Junction at Highway 50

Georgetown Junction at Highway 50

Not many people realize that there was an immigration route from what is now Highway 50, through the back country to Georgetown. It left the main road at Georgetown Junction, near Strawberry, and went through Union (Onion) Valley before heading towards Georgetown. Along it a number of waystations and mining camps evolved over the years.

Many of these small towns and mining communities played a large part in the settlement of the area. Most are gone and some, such as Cement Hill, Gravel Hill, Mt. Gregory and Wolverine Hill, left little if any history of their existence. However, we do know quite a bit about others.

Twelve miles to the east of Georgetown, on Wentworth Springs Road, is the community of Quintette. John J. Quinn, received a the original land grant for this piece of forest land in 1889.

Almost immediately he sold the land to the Barklage brothers who were timbermen. It is they that started the community of Quintette, which was supported by a logging camp and the Blue Bird Mine.

In 1917 the descendants of the Barklage brothers sold the town to the Douglas family. They acquired more land in the area and turned the first building in the town, the Twelve Mile House, into the Quintette Inn – a popular summer stop for ranchers with cattle summering in the forest. In 1941 the Douglas family sold Quintette, which by consisted of the Quintette Inn, a shed and large barn, to Claude “Bob” Robbins.

The Inn burned in 1945 and was replaced by a cabin. It too burned ten years later and was replaced by another cabin – still known as the Twelve Mile House – that stands today. In 1977, when Bob Robbins was 86 years old, he mysteriously vanished, never to be seen again.

On August 7, 1903 a post office was opened in Quintette, Frederick H. Douglas serving as its first postmaster. It was closed on June 31, 1912, and moved four miles northwest to the town of Virner.

Near, if not at Quintette in the early 1850s was the first inhabited structure that early miners came across once leaving the Placerville Road at Georgetown Junction. This place was known as Works Station, Works Ranch and even Twelve Mile House. It existed as late as 1883, but not much more is known about it.

Steppin’ Out – C. G. DiArie joins with Zachary Jack (ZJ) Specialty Foods

cg logoOn Labor Day Weekend, C. G. DiArie Winery opened their tasting room and wine garden in the same building with Zachary Jack (ZJ) Specialty Foods, which is located in  the old Zachary Jacques Restaurant, about three miles east of Diamond Springs at 1821 Pleasant Valley Road. This partnership is a perfect blending of food, wine and businesses.

If you are not familiar with C. G. DiArie, for the past 12 years the winery has been in the Mt. Aukum area of El Dorado County, later adding a tasting room in Amador County, and now one in El Dorado County.

Chaim and Elishiva Gur-Arieh are the winery owners. Chaim, who has a PhD in food science and a palate to match, is the winemaker, producing some of the finest and very best balanced wines around. Elishiva is a world class artist who manages a lot of the day to day winery business and also knows great wine. They are two of the most delightful people you will ever meet.

Elisheva and Chaim are both came to the United States from Israel, many years ago. Elisheva was a student of Anthropology, but went on to pursue a career in Fine Art. She attended the California College of Arts and Crafts and is a nationally exhibiting artist. Her paintings have been exhibited in Chicago, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, San Francisco, and San Diego.

Chaim received his Masters and Ph.D. in Food Science with minors in Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry from the University of Illinois. Subsequently, he joined the Quaker Oats Company where he developed the technology for the breakfast cereal, “Cap’n Crunch”®. Later, at the Del Monte Corporation, he developed  an array of products, including puddings-in-a-cup, shelf stable yogurts and other shelf stable dairy products.

A 12,000 square foot, state of the art facility, the winery is perched on a hillside of their 209 acre estate and is sized for a maximum production of 15,000 cases annually.

Inside the winery Chaim has installed new equipment that allows the wine to be fermented with a “Submerged Cap Fermentation” method. Chaim designed this equipment which he believes  allows him to more carefully manage the wine during fermentation, achieving maximum extraction while avoiding the breaking of the seeds or over extraction. After fermentation, the wine is stored in French and American oak barrels for up to two years, prior to blending and bottling.

The mission of Chaim and Elisheva is to make excellent and distinctive wines by using the best quality grapes, combining artistic flair, sound science, innovation and creativity during the entire process of wine making from the vineyard through the cellar and into the bottle.

Their goal is to enhance the pleasure of wine consumption by being in harmony with the land  and paying close attention to the vineyard while being committed to research and development, both in the vineyard and in the winery.

Lynette Evans, who with her husband and chef, John Evans, own both ZJ Specialty Foods and the highly acclaimed ZacJack Bistro in Cameron Park. They are delighted to have C. G. DiArie Winery join them.

I wrote about ZJ Specialty Foods a few weeks ago, pointing that they specialize in gourmet foods, such as pastas, pasta sauces, chutneys, curries, oils, pickled items, and preserves.

They also have nuts for cooking and/or eating, trail mixes, dried fruit, crackers and more, things perfect to take along on a picnic or a visit to the local wineries.

In addition to the canned and packaged goodies, there are freshly baked breads, and in the cooler section cheeses and patés, salads and desserts, along with what I think is really great, gourmet meals you can take home and easily prepare.

Since C. G. DiArie joined them, they have added several varieties of made to order gourmet sandwiches, along with house made charcuterie and cheese boards and quite a selection of plates. These include Nieman Ranch short ribs and vegetable ragout, White Marble porchetta, peporonata, olives and a baguette, slow cooked duck leg and thigh with a seasonal salad and slow cooked Dixon lamb shank with Summer squash ragout.

Stop by just to taste the wines of C. G. DiArie, some of the best wines in El Dorado County. Or, better yet, pair your wine with an appetizer or meal featuring the gourmet foods prepared by Chef John Evans.

Wine is available to taste, by the glass and by the bottle. Ask to try the Summer Breeze, a red blend made to be enjoyed chilled.

ZJ Speciality Foods is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 until 6, Friday and Saturday from 11 until 7 and on Sunday from 11 until 5. Phone 530-626-8045.

C. G. DiArie tasting room and wine garden is open from 11 until 5, Friday through Sunday. Phone 530-622-4100.

Stop by and check out both C. G. DiArie and ZJ Speciality Foods.

Community Profiles – Shingle Springs, Part 2

Shingle Springs looking west. Courtesy of Steve Crandell, Photo Restoration.

Shingle Springs looking west. Courtesy of Steve Crandell, Photo Restoration.

With Shingle Springs still growing rapidly, due to the arrival of the tracks of the Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad in 1865, most people believed there was no end to their success and that the local economy would continue to expand indefinitely.

There was the realization that when the tracks were completed to Placerville, and it became the freight and passenger transfer station for all points east, Shingle Springs businesses would be affected. However, no one fully realized the effect of what was happening several miles to the north.

For some time, the Central Pacific had been constructing their portion of the transcontinental railroad eastward from Sacramento to connect with the tracks being built in a westward direction by the Union Pacific.

In the summer of 1866, just one short year after the trains started arriving in Shingle Springs, the Central Pacific tracks through Auburn and Truckee had finally crossed the Sierra Nevada and the freight and passenger traffic for localities east of the mountains – the very traffic that had been passing through Shingle Springs – began to switch to that much more convenient and quicker route.

It is interesting to note at this point that the Sacramento Valley Railroad, the first commercial railroad west of the Mississippi and the parent company of the Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad, had once been a serious contender to develop the route over the Sierra Nevada. Their proposed route through Latrobe, Shingle Springs, Placerville and Strawberry, then by tunnel into the Tahoe basin and down the eastern slope into Nevada, was considered by some superior to the selected route through Auburn and Truckee. But, the Central Pacific’s “Big Four,” Stanford, Huntington, Hopkins and Crocker, had different ideas and the political clout to assure them.

The Central Pacific not only won that battle but, by 1887, even owned all the equipment and operations of the Sacramento Valley Railroad.

Community Profiles – Shingle Springs, Part 1

Sacramento Valley Railroad locomotive L. L. Robinson

Sacramento Valley Railroad locomotive L. L. Robinson

In March of 1849, a company of ten men left Monroe, Michigan determined to cross the plains and settle in California.

A man named Kertland was the captain of the company, which consisted of David B. Scott, D. Ashley, A. Lawyer, George Withington, and Messrs. Sweeney, Stephens, Bisby, Buckley and Wilson.

They proceeded to a place that would later be called Ragtown, where they camped and sent Scott ahead to scout the countryside as far as Sacramento and look around for the place where they could do the best in California (Ragtown was a trading post set up around 1850 on the Carson route, just west of the Nevada desert and east of the mountains of the Sierra Nevada).

In the company of a Dr. Richard Ormsby, Scott scouted westerly and camped at a site heavily dotted with sugar pine and oak, near beautiful clear springs. Delighted with the location, he returned to his company, which by that time had crossed the Sierra Nevada and reached Sly Park. He then travelled with them west to Sutterville (Sacramento), where the company ultimately split up.

Ormsby and Scott then joined forces with Withington, William Van Alstine and the Bartlett brothers, Henry and Edward. Together, they travelled back to the place where Ormsby and Scott had earlier camped and erected a horse powered shingle machine that could produce sixteen thousand shingles a day, worth $50 to $60 a thousand in Sacramento. From this simple beginning, grew the town we now know as Shingle Springs.