Best food and wine tasting road trips around Truckee, Donner Summit, Auburn and Grass Valley

“Head out on the highway, looking for adventure.”

Summer is the time to explore the Sierra and surrounding foothills in all its glory. The open road, in your car, convertible, RV or motorcycle, is the best way to experience it.

The journeys feature beautiful and historic places, including the shores of Lake Tahoe on Highway 89, Donner Summit on Old Highway 40, and Gold Rush towns and wine tasting on Highway 49.

Highway 20, dotted with campgrounds, picnic spots and sweeping views of the Sierra Buttes, is practically your own private route to the Sierra from the foothill towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City.

Auburn, with its award-winning restaurants, farm stands, brewpubs, shops and surrounding wineries, is becoming a destination between Tahoe and the Bay Area along Interstate 80.

The Colfax Highway, or State Route 174, offers wine tasting, farm stands and roadside dining (try the fresh apple pie at the Happy Apple Kitchen). The Colfax Highway is an easy detour off I-80, whether you’re traveling from Reno or Sacramento. Amtrak’s California Zephyr train stops at historic Colfax.

The Placer County Wine Trail and Sierra Vintners offer wine tours where you can taste among the barrels and meet the winemakers.

Roadtrips centered around local farms go route to the Sierra from the foothill towns of back to the days of the 49er Fruit Trail on the Grass Valley and Nevada City.

Fruit ranchers sold cherries, peaches, figs, apples and vegetables from their farm stands. Their homemade pies became popular too.

Some of the area’s longtime family farms include Machado Orchards in Auburn (whose family has owned the farmland since the ‘20s) and Bierwagen’s Donner Fruit Trail in Chicago Park. Ikedas in Auburn was opened in 1970. The roadside “mom and pops” remain popular with travelers to this day.

Maps to towns, wineries, orchards and art & wine walks. Read about the “New Gold Rush,” how chefs, farmers, winemakers and artists are resettling the Sierra Foothills and Sierra.

(Photo: “Alone at the Lake” by Olof Carmel)

Here’s a video about Nevada County wineries:

Here’s a video on Placer County wineries:

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