Gravenstein apples; it’s kind of a funny name. Apples are apples, right? We even say apples to apples to compare two like things. So why name a whole fair after one type of apple?
There are two reasons we’re proud to be called the Gravenstein Apple Fair – History and FLAVOR!
As famed Sonoma County horticulturalist, Luther Burbank said about our local apple, “…if the Gravenstein could be had throughout the year, no other apple need be grown.”
Now we don’t want to bore you with a detailed back story of this wonderful apple. After all, chances are you’re not an apple historian and you don’t know a lot about Johnny Appleseed. And perhaps you think that Sonoma County is all about wine. We get it. But the story of how the Gravenstein apple came to Sonoma County and its importance to the local economy is pretty darn interesting.
To spill the apple tea (or appletini, yum!), local lore gives us a couple of explanations about how the Gravenstein apple ended up in Sonoma County. One story is that Russian fur trappers planted the first Gravensteins in 1812. Another version is that Spaniards planted Gravensteins in a part of California they referred to as New Spain. The most likely explanation is that this mighty apple was imported from the East Coast by a nurseryman who brought apple trees and other plants across the country in a covered wagon.
Gravs, as they’re called by in-the-know apple lovers, were planted in large numbers in the 1800s. Particularly fond of the sandy soil and cooler summers around Sebastopol, Gravs flourished. These tasty apples were shipped nationwide, playing an important role in Sonoma County commerce.
If you’d like to learn more about the fascinating history of the Gravenstein apple – going all the way back to its European roots (pardon the pun), check out this article by Darlene Hayes, Gravenstein – turn them all into cider. She is an actual apple historian who’s traced the twists and turns of the Gravenstein apple saga.
Over time, Gravenstein apple production has declined due to suburbanization, orchard to vineyard conversion and other global factors.
But you can’t keep a good apple down! Gravensteins, thanks to their amazing flavor and texture, have rebounded in popularity in recent years. And where’s the best place to get them? Sonoma County, of course.
Now that you know a little bit of Gravenstein history, let’s talk about what makes them so great; reason #2 for calling it the Gravenstein Apple Fair:
Yes, Gravs are a luscious taste of summer perfection; the ideal combination of sweet and tart with firm flesh and a lovely green skin, shot with red. They’re fabulous for baking, frying, frittering, pieing, saucing, cidering and eating straight from the orchard. Gravenstein apples are a showstopper in all their glory at the Fair.
If you want to experience apple goodness while you’re visiting, be sure to check out the following Fair booths:
Apple Fritters! What’s not to love about freshly fried, sugar-coated dough filled with tasty Gravs? Made on-site with organic Sonoma County ingredients, including LOVE, you can find fritters at the Farm Trails apple fritter booth.
Apple Pie Eating Contest! The Fair brings new meaning to the phrase, “Look Ma, no hands,” as participants gobble down delicious Gravenstein apple pies using only their pie hole. (Maybe that’s why it’s called a pie hole?)
Pie! If you want an organic Gravenstein apple pie to take home, be sure to check out Mom’s Apple Pies.
Or if you’d like to try your own hand at baking a delicious apple pie, stop by the Dutton Ranch booth to pick up Certified Organic bulk apples by the bag or the box.
Apple Mac and Cheese! How do you make a classic even better? Add Gravs, of course. Try Bayou On the Bay’s Smoked Gravenstein BBQ Mac-n-Cheese.
Beignets! A New Orleans favorite with a Sonoma County twist, savor lovely beignets with a Gravenstein Apple Compote.
Whether you’re a fan of “an apple a day” or apples any number of delicious ways, come get your Grav on at the Gravenstein Apple Fair on August 13 – 14, at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol!
Learn more about all our appletastic products and tastings
See you at the Fair!