Monday, September 01, 2008

Fabulous Fairplay

We wanted to mark our 20th wedding anniversary with a big trip this year, but with the kids starting school early, Bruins football and work deadlines, we stayed close to home to make sure everyone made it to school, practices and meetings. JD insisted we get out of town even if it was a short drive so we decided to head to Fairplay, simply because we had never heard of the place, and we wanted to see what we’d find in our own ‘backyard’. Fairplay encompasses the back roads of El Dorado County, near Mt. Aukum, Somerset and Omo Ranch. Honestly, I had never heard of it before.

This little rural wine town does not disappoint those looking for good wines and relaxing surroundings. With the top down on the Z, we drove around Somerset and Fairplay noting the many wineries on Perry Creek and Fairplay Roads. We found ourselves at Lucinda’s Country Inn for the evening. What an amazing little place this Inn has become over the last several years. Daryl & Cindy Sullivan’s retirement project is quite the luxury bed and breakfast. All the suites are unique, spacious, newly furnished and carefully appointed with all the little accoutrements one needs when you have an overnight bag and a short amount of time. One can easily note that the Sullivan’s hearts are in their business, because of their wonderful hospitality. The fully cooked breakfasts were amazing and we enjoyed a lovely cocktail hour with them in the great room before heading out to dinner at Bocconato Trattoria, another Fairplay hotspot.

What is amazing about Fairplay is the local warmth and sense of belonging one enjoys whether you are visiting a winery, a local restaurant or having lunch at a roadside café. The people who live in this area and run their businesses treat customers like family. At every winery we visited, we were able to taste at no charge, and the owners were available to discuss their wines and the surrounding area.

Perhaps the most pleasurable dining experience we had while in fabulous Fairplay, was our evening at Bocconato’s. The owners, Giovanni & Sheri Gaudio, are a husband and wife team who love and live Northern Italian cuisine. They present their food and wine pairings as culinary gifts, each course of the meal a testament to the authentic Italian heritage they embrace. Giovanni and JD talked about the areas in Italy they share in common, JD’s family residing in the Lombardy and Valtelena; Gaudio’s cuisine centering on the foods and wines of the Piemonte and Toscano regions of Italia. Gaudio knows his stuff, he travels to Italy regularly and he looks like one of the locals you’d run into while touring around Como. Our maitre d’, Nicola, was fun and engaging, the staff welcoming us like long lost cugini. Chef Giovanni Gaudio has this down to a science. If you like authenticity in your Italian cuisine, you will love Bocconato. They love their local wines, but they also feature regional Italian wines. We had been tasting the local vino all day, so we settled on a wine from Montepulciano, a red Toscano that went well with everything we ate.

The only decision we made that night was whether to sit indoors our outside on the patio, but since the weather was lovely, we enjoyed the evening on the patio, sharing stories with ‘Nicolino’ and wondering what chef would send out next for us to sample. If you leave it up chef, he will not fail to disappoint the palette.

For a special occasion or a quick getaway, the secret little area of Fairplay was the retreat we were looking for, and with gasoline prices keeping us closer to home, it was the perfect midweek getaway to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Simply fun, fabulous…not far away, Fairplay- we’ll be back soon!


Placerville Info said...

Great story. Seeking permission to re-post on with credits and link back.

Family Fare said...

Please post after Thursday runs in the Mt. Democrat that day. Thanks!