Harmon Andrews took second prize for Gravenstein
apples and Mr.
Six miles west of Santa Rosa in southern Sonoma County, Sebastopol has been producing what might be the country's tastiest Gravensteins for more than 100 years.
You can pick up fresh Gravensteins as well as Jonathan, Delicious, Rome Beauty, and other apple varieties directly from the farms or from the Sunday morning farmers' market downtown.
Local growers offer Gravenstein, Delicious, Jonathan, and Rome Beauty apples, as well as other produce.
Today, he coaxes some 40 varieties out of Twin Hill's 200 acres, from the Gravensteins that made Sebastopol famous to some newcomers he hopes will help him give Washington state a run for its money.
Gravensteins peak in August, but they're still available this month.
Next, head west toward Gravenstein Highway (State 116).
Kozlowski Farms, 5566 Gravenstein Highway, Forestville (887-1587), makes superb mustard, jams (sugared and sugar-free), fine fruit pies, and--though this item may be difficult to work into most picnics--a magnificent chocolate-raspberry sauce.
The first Gravensteins were planted in Sebastopol in 1883 (young Luther Burbank lent a hand in the task), but no one seems to know whether the seed came from northern Europe via Russians at Fort Ross or traveled overland with American pioneers.
You'll be offered fresh Gravensteins (by the apple, by the pound, by the lug), dried apples, apple pie, apple torte, apple cake, apple bread, apple strudel.
Ripe Gravensteins are also outstanding-- some say incomparable--for cider.
Heart of Sonoma County's north-coast apple district, Sebastopol is home to summer's first apple, the Gravenstein --ripe in late July and early August.