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.
Due to COVID-19, most farms are doing things differently this season; advance reservations may be required and the traditional u-pick experience may not be available. Learn about each location's 2020 plans below and when in doubt, contact them before you go.
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. The 2020 u-pick season here will be available to CSA members/season pass holders with advance reservations only. A season pass costs $40 and includes a case of the farm's Asian pears. You can also pick blackberries, raspberries, and other fruit, depending on the season.
Gabriel Farm's u-pick season starts in August and usually runs through October. U-pick apples cost $2.50 per pound in addition to the cost of the season pass. They're located at 3175 Sullivan Road in Graton. More information: www.gabrielfarm.com or (707) 829-0617. Read our article about Gabriel Farm here.
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. At this time they plan to hold u-pick this fall, but may require reservations or other social distancing measures. Check their Facebook page or call them at (707) 823-0538 for exact dates and announcements about the season.D
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.
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. For 2020, Chileno Valley Ranch will hold a series of drive-through events where families can pick up pre-paid farm products, including apples, pears, ground grass-fed beef, honey, olive oil, and even apple cider donuts; u-pick, farm tours, tastings, and animal feedings will not be offered this year.
This year, you'll be able to order products in advance and pick them up at the farm. The first scheduled event will be on Sunday, August 23, 2020 with drive-through times TBA. Masks will be required and gloves are recommended.
Apples and pears will be sold in 10-pound bags for $20 each ($2 per pound); you can order as many bags of apples as you like; pears are limited to one bag. The ranch's grass-fed ground beef will be available as well. Pre-order via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
This year's Gravenstein Apple Fair has been canceled due to COVID-19, but you can still celebrate the apple harvest and help support Sonoma County Farm Trails at their 2020 Grav & Go event! Pre-order a variety of Gravenstein-related products, including fresh organic apples, apple butter, apple juice, apple sauce, apple pies, apple soap, and even special organic Gravenstein apple hard cider, by noon on Thursday, August 13 and make a reservation to pick up your order on Saturday or Sunday, August 15 or 16. Pick up your order curbside at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center, 390 Morris Street in Sebastopol 95472.
Learn more about Grav & Go and place your order at www.farmtrails.org/grav-and-go. Donations to Sonoma County Farm Trails are also encouraged! For donations of $50 or more, you will received a handcrafted cloth face mask sewn by Farm Trails volunteers as a thank-you gift. Donations may be added to your online order.
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