Magazine article Sunset

Hide out in the Foothills: Just in Time for the Holidays: Volcano Is the Prettiest Gold Country Town No One Has Heard of. Yet

Magazine article Sunset

Hide out in the Foothills: Just in Time for the Holidays: Volcano Is the Prettiest Gold Country Town No One Has Heard of. Yet

Article excerpt

"THERE WAS one review on Yelp," Tracey Berkner says. "It react 'My wife decided to stay in the Wild West town of Volcano forever.'"

Volcano. On Yelp. It's a new era here in the world's most beautiful tiny town.

You probably haven't heard of Volcano, for good reason. It is small: population 100. Although it lies only 60 miles from Sacramento, it is so hidden in the Amador County foothills, it feels a world away.

Volcano looks like it's slept through the last century of California life. But there's news here, thanks to Tracey and her husband, Mark. Professional hoteliers, they moved to Colorado for work but longed to return to their native California--and, for Tracey, to Amador County. "I came here as a little girl and always wanted to come back." They launched a restaurant, Taste, in nearby Plymouth, then found Volcano and the old Volcano Union Inn.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Berkners transformed the Volcano Union into a simple but stylish four-room inn with a terrific restaurant downstairs. The Union Pub's seasonal menu has many strengths, but my advice is to head immediately to the fried chicken. The wine list is strong on the reds--Zins, Barberas--Amador County is known for.

The world's best bar

Exploring Volcano won't take long. Stroll Consolation and Main Streets, and you see a scattering of stone buildings left from Volcano's mining boomtown days: an armory, a country store, an art gallery. But mainly in December, you experience the kind of peace that is paradoxically hard to find during the holidays.

At Main Street's south end lies Volcano's other anchor: the St. George Hotel, built in 1862, balconied and grand. Its Whiskey Flat Saloon has everything you want in a small-town bar: local gossip, moose head on the wall, and the feeling that every molecule of oxygen in the place has been soaked 10 years in bourbon. GQ magazine named Whiskey Flat one of the best bars in the world. I sat on my barstool wondering whether GQ cover models would storm the front door (Look! It's Brad Pitt in Marc Jacobs!). It didn't happen. "People don't know where Volcano is," the guy on the next barstool told me. "And that's how we like it."

Right, I thought, stepping out into the night. At least until the next Yelp review.

VOLCANO

A 20-SECOND GUIDE

GET THERE Volcano is in Amador County, about 60 miles southeast of Sacramento. You can take State 49 to Sutter Creek and head northeast on Ridge Rd. …

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