Take a bite out of Sonoma County’s agricultural past at the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair (August 17-18) in Sebastopol. Underneath the oaks of Ragle Ranch, the community gathers for a down-home harvest celebration that includes pie-eating contests, sheep shearing, cow milking, cider making, live music and top-notch food, cider, wine and microbrews. Come hungry to enjoy food from more than 25 restaurants and vendors including Ramen Gaijin, Black Piglet, The Whole Pie, Gravenstein Grill, The Farmer’s Wife, Lowell’s, Mateo’s Cocina Latina and Jam’s Joy Bungalow.
With a focus on food and farming, the fair is a charming step back into the history of Sonoma’s West County, when orchards rather than vineyards dominated the landscape. With a focus on the sweet and delicate Gravenstein long cultivated in the region, it’s also a success story of bringing an heirloom fruit back from the brink of extinction.
Thanks to the proliferation of artisan cider makers, heirloom apples like the Gravenstein are once again in high demand with local orchardists carefully maintaining and protecting these local treasures. You can taste some of the best producers in the Artisan Cider tent at the fair and throughout Sonoma County Cider Week (Aug. 17-25) that kicks off at the fair and continues at restaurants, tap rooms and tasting rooms throughout the county. We’re special fans of Tilted Shed (who helped lead the charge for using local heirloom apples for cider), family-run Ethic Ciders and the ever-quaffable Golden State Cider.
Entrance to the Gravenstein Apple Fair is $15 for adults, $10 for kids and $12 for seniors and veterans and can be purchased in advance at gravensteinapplefair.com. Admission to the Artisan Tasting Lounge, which includes a special meet and greet with farmers and special food tastings, is $25 at the door and $20 in advance. Details on the Sonoma County Cider Week are at sonomacountyciderweek.com.