U-Pick Apples and More Farm Fun at Chileno Valley Ranch
September 4, 2012Posted by pamela |
Apple season is well underway, so why not take a trip to the farm and pick your own? While most of the apple farms in the North Bay are clustered around the western Sonoma County town of Sebastopol (which is rightly famous for its apples), you can actually pick apples right here in Marin County at the beautiful Chileno Valley Ranch.
Located in West Marin's Chileno Valley, this ranch offers u-pick apples on Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm from Labor Day through the month of October. Owners Sally and Mike Gale also raise grass-fed beef, heritage pigs, goats, and chickens on the ranch, and there's a lot to see and do there for apple picking families.
The centerpiece of the ranch is its meticulously restored Victorian farmhouse, which is surrounded by flowers, vegetable gardens, and an apple orchard. Chileno Valley Ranch offers several heirloom apple varieties, including Orin, Pinova, Molly's Delicious, and Jonathan's Pride. All apples here are organically grown and are blind taste-test winners. They also sell them at local outlets like Toby's Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station and the Organic Farmstead at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross.
Check in at the barn and grab a paper bag if you didn't bring your own. There's someone on hand in the orchard to explain the different types of apples available and to show you which ones are OK to pick—different varieties of apples are ripe and ready at different times of the season.
When you've picked as many fruits as you want, head back to the barn for weigh-in and payment. Apples cost $2 per pound. You can also buy other products produced at the ranch; we bought a dozen fresh free-range eggs and some grass-fed ground beef.
After paying for your apples, families are welcome to take an animal tour of the farm, where you can get up-close-and-personal with the pigs, goats, sheep, and chickens who live on the farm, and pet and feed them. It's a fun bonus to your apple-picking excursion.
If You Go
Chileno Valley Ranch is located at 5105 Chileno Valley Road in Petaluma. (Technically, it's in Marin County, but its very close to Petaluma.) To get there, take Highway 101 to Petaluma, where you'll exit at Petaluma Boulevard South. Head north on Petaluma Boulevard South and turn right on Western Avenue in downtown Petaluma.
Follow Western Avenue west, and turn left onto Chileno Valley Road (look for the signs directing you to Helen Putnam Regional Park and Walker Creek Ranch). Follow Chileno Valley Road until you reach the intersection with Wilson Hill Road; turn right here to stay on Chileno Valley Road. Follow Chileno Valley Road west and look for the ranch on your left shortly after you pass Laguna Lake—watch for the farmhouse and the row of cypress trees. The entrance to the parking area is just beyond the row of trees.
Apple picking at Chileno Valley Ranch takes place from Labor Day Weekend through October from 10 am to 4 pm. It's a good idea to call first to make a reservation, although it was busy when we were there on their opening Sunday. The ranch charges a $6 per car parking fee on u-pick days.
Bathrooms are available at the ranch in the cottage across from the barn. Since West Marin weather can be fickle, bring hats and sunscreen as well as a sweatshirt just in case, as well as water to drink.
For more information, call (707) 765-6664 or visit www.chilenobnb.com.