Friday through Monday: Clear. Highs in the 80s to lower 90s. Lows in the 50s.
While in California later this week, I'm holding camp in the middle of a Gravenstein Apple orchard surrounded by Olivet Lane Pinot Noir Vines. Here's a little on the Gravenstein Apple:
Among thousands of California apple varieties, the heirloom Gravenstein is widely regarded as one of the best eating and baking apples. A fine balance of sweet and tart, its full-bodied flavor intensifies when made into sauce, juice, cider or vinegar. The apples also hold their shape beautifully in pies and tarts.
Warm, dry days, cool nights and Northern California’s mellow loamy soil provide ideal growing conditions for Sonoma County’s historic Gravenstein apple trees. The twisted trunk of a mature Gravenstein supports a 30-foot canopy laden with perfumed blossoms in the springtime. Some trees produce a prolific 2,000 pounds of fruit each.
Aficionados flock to Sebastopol during the Spring Apple Blossom Festival and again at the Gravenstein Harvest Festival in August.
As it ripens, the standard Gravenstein undergoes a pronounced change in color; from yellow or lime green, an intermediate light orange with red stripes, and finally to a medium orange with dark red stripes. Other apples oxidize after slicing, quickly turning an unappealing brown. Cut into a Grav and an orange tinge almost immediately blushes over the ivory flesh.
The Gravenstein was introduced to South Jutland, Denmark, in 1669, which is where it gained its name. German migrants brought the apple to North America in 1790 and Russian fur traders planted the first West Coast Gravenstein orchards at their outpost in Fort Ross in 1820, where the trees survived despite inhospitable conditions such as intense winds and salt air. It is likely that cuttings from theses trees were used to start the orchards in Sebastopol.
By the early 1900s thousands of Gravenstein orchards were established and the apple had become the heart of a major industry in Sonoma County as dryers, canners, apple cider and apple brandy producers took advantage of its suitability for processing. During World War II American troops were provided with applesauce and dried apples from Sebastopol Gravensteins, and this made the apple into an icon for the town.
An Apple a Day! - Ali