Apple orchards brimming with ready-to-pick apples are a sign that fall has arrived. Apple picking is one outdoor activity the family can enjoy together, and it helps to show the kids where their food comes from. Here are five apple-picking spots around the Bay Area.
Photos: Best Fall Activities
Chileno Valley Ranch
5105 Chileno Valley Road
Petaluma, CA 94952
Chileno Valley Ranch is home to Sally and Mike Gale and is primarily a grass-fed beef ranch. The ranch also has an organic apple orchard with proven apple favorites, such as Delicious, Jonathan’s Pride, Oren and Pinova. The ranch offers u-pick apples during September and October only, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and apples are also available to buy from the ranch or at several local markets. During the summer and fall months, the ranch also offers Plein Air Painting Workshops given by well-regarded painters from the western United States, and requires a three- or four-day ranch stay, depending on the workshop. Check the website or contact the owners for complete workshop information, plus additional details on the ranch and apple picking.
Twin Hill Ranch
1689 Pleasant Hill Raod
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Twin Hill Ranch has been growing apples for over 60 years near Sebastopol, California, an area known for its delicious apples. The ranch is committed to educating kids and adults about where food comes from, while helping families experience authentic farming at the ranch. Get ready for the U-Pick Apple Festival going on now through October. Bring the family and invite friends to come along to pick your own apples. It’s just $2 per pound, and the fun is free. Bring a picnic lunch and stay at the ranch for a while to enjoy the beautiful grounds, including its vineyards and country market. Hours are Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m to 4 p.m.
3175 Sullivan Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
For great fruit from Sonoma County, visit Gabriel Farm, a 14-acre organic farm located in the ideal apple-growing region of Sebastopol, California. The farm features several varieties of apples, plus Asian pears, fuyu persimmons, plums, a variety of seasonal berries and aromatic lavender. Gabriel Farms grows some of your favorite apple varieties: Gilbert Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Fuji and Rome Beauty. Enjoy the exquisite orchard as you pick your own apples at U-Pick each weekend now through October, $2 per pound.
13128 Occidental Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Although Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch is not as well known as other places, the ranch has a fan following that comes for the apple bonanza they find here. Depending on which apple varieties are available the day you visit, you may pick Rome Beauties or Golden Delicious, or another apple favorite. Be sure to also buy some of the delicious organic apple juice produced here. Call for the day’s apple pickings and price per pound.
55 Peckham Road
Watsonville, CA 95076
Spend a day with the family apple picking in the fresh country air and beautiful atmosphere of this countryside ranch. The U-Pick apple season begins in early September and lasts for four weeks. Gizdich Ranch grows and sells a large variety of apples from August through November, although not all varieties are available for picking. Visit the website to see what varieties are in season and available to pick. After you have your fresh-picked apples, stay for a self-guided tour around the apple orchard and berry farms at the ranch. Gizdich Ranch is also known for its award-winning apple juices made from apples grown and juiced at the ranch. If you visit on a Saturday from September to May, you can see the apples pressed for juice. Be sure to stop by the ranch bakeshop and deli to try any of nine varieties of pies available, plus apple dumplings and puff pastries too. Check the website for complete information on the ranch’s opening dates and prices per pound. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m to 5 p.m.Related: East Bay’s Best Local Produce Delivery
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Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.