Pick Your Own Apples in the North Bay!
Late summer marks the start of apple season, and plenty of apples can be found in the North Bay, especially in and around Sebastopol in western Sonoma County. Sebastopol is the de facto apple capital of the Bay Area, and it's justifiably famous for its Gravenstein apples, a variety that you won't find grown commerically elsewhere. While it's fun to eat and cook with apples, it's even more fun (and educational) to head out into an orchard and pick them yourselves!
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.
This year, apple season kicks off in early 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). Like any other crop, apples are dependent on a variety of factors, so make sure you check with farms before you decide to visit to make sure there's something available to pick.
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. Varieties include Zesta, Orin, Pinova, Molly's Delicious, and Jonathan's Pride. The first U-pick will take place on September 4, 2022–reservations open on Monday, August 22 at 9 am.
U-pick takes place on Sundays only from 9 am to 3 pm, with the last entry at 1 pm. Apples and pears cost $2 per pound. There's a $10 per car parking fee when you register in advance; $12 without a reservation. You can also take a farm tour and buy eggs and other farm products. Note that u-pick may be canceled depending on apple availability and weather.
Chileno Valley Ranch is located at 5105 Chileno Valley Road west of Petaluma. More information: www.chilenovalley.com or (707) 765-6664. Read our article about our visit to Chileno Valley Ranch.
EARTHseed Farm is a 14-acre organic farm, rooted in Afro Indiginous permaculture principles, in Sebastopol. (Formerly the location of Gabriel Farm, which also offered an apple u-pick.) They grow a variety of apples including Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Gala, Rome Beauty, Fuji, and McIntosh. You can also pick pluots, blackberries, and other fruit, depending on the season. Asian pears are available for sale in the farm store.
EARTHseed Farm's u-pick is offered on selected Saturdays in summer and fall. Advance reservations are required and u-pick day reservations generally open the Tuesday before the Saturday they take place. There's a non-refundable $25 entry fee good for groups of up to 6 people. They're located at 3175 Sullivan Road in Sebastopol. More information: www.earthseedfarm.org/ or (707) 829-0617.
Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch west of Sebastopol grows Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, and Rome apples. U-pick is usually offered from some time in September through early December and advance reservations are required. Check their Facebook page or call them at (707) 823-0538 for exact dates and announcements about the season.During u-pick season, they're open Sunday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm; closed Thursdays and Saturdays. They also process and sell award-winning fresh apple juice. More information: appleadayranch.com, (707) 823-0538, or on their Facebook page. Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch is located at 13128 Occidental Road in Sebastopol.
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