Apple lovers rejoice!
Although it’s just August, Winter is coming…oh wait, just really into Game of Thrones right now. Ahem. Autumn is coming and that means harvest! And that means Sonoma County is about to be all kinds of delicious and colorful. Here are the best ways to enjoy the other sweet fruit (besides, ya know wine grapes), read on for some of my top picks for Sonoma County apple harvest activities.
Fairs & Festivals
The 44th annual Gravenstein Apple Fair will be held on August 12 and 13, 2017 at Ragle Ranch Park, Sebastopol. It is an old-fashioned apple fair complete with all the apple products you’d ever want to eat including pies, cakes and cookies from Kozlowski Farms, apple sauce and juice from North Coast, caramel apples from Rocker Oysterfellers, and apples from Dutton Ranch. The fair will also have music and a craft space where you can learn about how to plant pollinators, cook with apples, and how to make mead! Mead is a honey based alcoholic beverage – and it’s been made forever. Basically what they’re drinking on Game of Thrones. Last reference, I promise. Buy tickets here and don’t miss the event dubbed “The Sweetest Little Fair in Sonoma County!”
For a more food specific celebration featuring apples, head on over to the Petaluma Fairgrounds on September 2, 2017 for the Sonoma County Fermentation Festival. Their dranks line up includes Ace Cider (more info below), as well as Sebastopol’s Golden State Cider, Sonoma County Distilling, Tilted Shed Ciderworks and a ton of local breweries. Plus the fair will have kimchi. And although that has nothing to do with apples, I think you should know it. Buy some. Bring me some. K, thanks.
Buy & U-pick Apple Farms
If you like what you taste at the fair, you can head to Walker Apples to purchase your own apples (not a u-pick). They’ll let you try anything they have for sale and they are open seven days a week, 9 – 5 from August 1 through December 1. Walker is at the end of a really pretty, but bumpy dirt road in Graton. The woman who sells me apples yearly is always very nice and generous. Support this local farm – drop down and get your apple on, girl.
To pick your own apples, which is cute and great for photos, but entirely too much work if you ask me, you can go to Gabriel Farm and buy a $39 membership or take a $25 tour. The membership includes six bottles of their pear and apple juice and lets you pick as many apples as you want throughout the year, but please note: you do have to pay for your picked apples. The tour includes tastings of fruit and their delicious products and you also get the opportunity to pick your own fruit. But again, for purchase! They have a cute store as well as picnic space to make a day of it. Gabriel Farms hosts a lot of Sonoma County schools for educational tours as well – I went when I was little!
Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch also offers u-pick in September and October. They grow Gravenstein, Rome and Golden Delicious varietals and they sell their own juice! Ratzlaff is closed Thursdays and Saturdays, but is open 9-5 the rest of the week. I’d definitely call first (707.823.0538) to be sure someone is available!
Sonoma Cider has a taproom dedicated to alcoholic ciders but also feature beers, cocktails made with their apple brandy and a pretty tasty food menu. Located one block off the square in Healdsburg, you can walk on over and try the many varietals on hand. That is, if you wine yourself out, (not sure it’s possible, but some people are quitters).
Ace Cider in Sebastopol claims they are the first cider pub in the US. They are also owned independently by a very nice family, so I’ll believe it. Also, they have the best deal on ciders because they offer 9 tastings of cider in their $10 flight. They are open on Friday afternoons from 1pm to 5pm and host live, local music acts. Their patio is also dog friendly!
Whether or not you make it to a fair or festival to celebrate harvest, be sure to support, buy and eat Sonoma County apples!