Pick Your Own Apples in the North Bay!
September 18, 2012Posted by pamela |
Late summer marks the start of apple season, and plenty of the tasty and popular fruits can be found in the North Bay, especially in the area around Sebastopol in western Sonoma County, which is famous for its Gravenstein apples. Even more fun than eating and cooking with apples is heading out into an orchard and picking your own!
If you're not lucky enough to have an apple tree growing in your backyard, then head up to one of the local apple farms that offers a u-pick experience. It's a fun family outing, and prices and quality are usually bettter than you'll find in the supermarket. There's nothing quite like an afternoon on the farm, too.
Apple season begins in late July or August with local favorite Gravensteins, and continues through the late summer and fall with varieties like Golden Delicious (September and October), Granny Smith (October and November), and Fuji (October through December).
Twin Hill Ranch outside of Sebastopol has been a favorite place for school and family outings for over 60 years. They offer u-pick for apples Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm. Check in at the ranch's store to pick up your baskets and learn about the different varieties of apples available, and then head out into the orchards to pick your fruit. You'll find several varieties including Gravenstein, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith. Twin Hill Ranch is not certified organic but their apples are grown pesticide-free.
U-pick season runs from August throughout the fall, until the apples are all gone. The cost for u-pick apples here is $1 per pound; you can pay with cash or credit card. The country store at Twin Hill Ranch also offers goodies like apple bread (our favorite), fresh apple juice, pies, cookies, jams, and jellies. There's also a picnic area with a spacious lawn.
Chileno Valley Ranch
Chileno Valley Ranch grows organic apples—all of which are blind taste test winners—and provides them to local markets like Toby's Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station and the Organic Farmstead at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross. You can visit the ranch for u-pick from Labor Day weekend through the month of October. Varieties include Orin, Pinova, Molly's Delicious, and Jonathan's Pride.
U-pick takes place on Sundays only from 10 am to 4 pm, and apples cost $2 per pound. Make sure you call ahead before you go: (707) 765-6664. They also raise grass-fed beef on the ranch.
Chileno Valley Ranch is located at 5105 Chileno Valley Road west of Petaluma. More information: www.chilenobnb.com or (707) 765-6664. Read our article about our visit to Chileno Valley Ranch.
Gabriel Farm is a family-run, certified organic farm in Graton, just north of Sebastopol. They grow a variety of apples including Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Gala, Rome Beauty, Fuji, and McIntosh. This season they're making u-pick an activity for their CSA members only; you can join at the farm by purchasing a membership. A share consists of a case (6 half-gallon bottles) of their Asian pear juice ($35). U-pick takes place on weekends from 11 am to 4 pm or weekdays by appointment.
Gabriel Farm's u-pick season starts in late August and usually runs through October. U-pick apples cost $2 per pound in addition to the cost of the CSA membership. You can still visit their farm store, where they offer apples, Asian pears, lavender, and other products, without joining their CSA.
Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch
Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch west of Sebastopol offers Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, and Rome apples. U-pick is offered from August through October; call first to make an appointment: (707) 823-0538.
They're open daily from 8 am to 5 pm; closed Saturdays. They also process and sell fresh apple juice. More information: (707) 823-0538.
Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch is located at 13128 Occidental Road in Sebastopol.