Sponsor Spotlight: Joe & Tracy Dutton & Family
Welcome to our inaugural Sponsor Spotlight! To celebrate Farm Trails’ and the Gravenstein Apple Fair’s 50th Anniversary, we’re telling the fun and fascinating stories of the Fair’s sponsors – many of whom go back to the very beginning when Farm Trails and the Fair were created to connect consumers with local products. There’s no better way to start than with the descendants of two of Sonoma County’s most famous farming families: the Kozlowskis and the Duttons.
Love Blooms at the Fair!
Who knew love and marriage could blossom at the Gravenstein Apple Fair? That’s Tracy and Joe Dutton’s story. As members of two of Sonoma County’s pioneering agricultural families, it took working at the Fair to bring Joe and Tracy together. At the “sweetest little Fair in Sonoma County,” Tracy and Joe found a sweet love story.
A Matchmaking Aunt
Tracy Kozlowski, who was raised in the business of growing and selling produce as part of the Kozlowski Farms family, was working at her family’s booth at the Fair. Joe Dutton, whose parents started the family farm on a parcel of land near Graton in 1964, noticed Tracy as he walked down the aisle from the Dutton Farms booth. Playing it cool, but definitely interested, Joe strolled back and forth a few more times. Tracy’s aunt, recognizing an opportunity for matchmaking, encouraged Tracy’s young cousin Janae to have a discussion with Joe. And so, the story goes, Janae visited the Dutton booth and told Joe to ask Tracy out.
Joe didn’t need to be told twice. He took Janae’s advice, made a beeline for the Kozlowski booth, and asked Tracy to lunch in front of her entire family! Now, some thirty years later Joe and Tracy have a thriving winery in Dutton Estate Vineyards duttonestate.com, and the next generation of Duttons to help run it. Just another story of Gravenstein Apple Fair magic.
Duttons & Kozlowskis – A Rich History
Apples and wine run through the history of both the Dutton and Kozlowski families. Tracy and Joe bought the property the Dutton Estate Winery sits on in 1994. Tracy remembers selling apples to help finance their fledgling winemaking venture, wheeling wagons loaded with Gravensteins out to customers’ cars, often with one of her daughters sitting on top. They still have 200 acres that are dedicated to apple production.
Tracy and Joe founded Dutton Estate winery with the intent of building a family business. They are committed to ensuring that the long, proud Dutton and Kozlowski history is passed to their children who represent the future of agriculture in Sonoma County.
The Next Generation of Sonoma County Leaders
Kyndall – the Dutton’s oldest daughter – is the logistics and process improvement expert. As a puzzle lover, she’s helped Dutton Estate Winery solve many of the vexing supply chain puzzles the winery had to deal with during the pandemic. She’s also an avid horsewoman who can be found riding her horses through the vineyards.
Kylie – Joe and Tracy’s second daughter – loves the creative side of wine and cider making. After studying winemaking and being mentored by Dutton Estate’s winemaker, Robert (Bobby) Donnell, she’s now the assistant winemaker. She’s also instrumental in creating Dutton Estate’s hard apple cider, which is a fun, refreshing opener which adds the “wow factor” to Dutton Estate’s delightful wine tasting menu. And, of course, if cider’s your thing, you can focus on Kylie’s work to make local Gravenstein apples shine – with or without the wine chaser.
Karmen is Joe and Tracy’s third daughter and while she’s finishing up college, as she studies to be an accountant, her parents hope to lure her back to help with the family winery. Every business needs a smart accountant to provide financial guidance, right?
Family Memories of the Fair
The Gravenstein Apple Fair has been a big part of the two families’ histories – not just as the place where Joe and Tracy met, but also as a treasured part of their childhoods growing up in Sonoma County. Some of Tracy’s earliest memories are of baking an apple pie with her grandmother in preparation for the pie-making competition. Tracy had a great time playing with the dough, little did she know she’d take first prize in the Youth portion of the competition! Joe remembers offloading sawhorses and hay bales as he helped Tracy’s great-uncle Frank work on set up for the Fair; something the Duttons generously continue to do today!
The girls never tire of hearing how their parents met. They, too, have their own fond memories of growing up at the Fair – spending the night at their grandmother’s house, eating a delicious apple fritter, getting their faces painted, adopting hermit crabs, checking out the horses in the “Life on the Farm” exhibit, racing through the hay maze – all while ostensibly “working” selling apples at the Dutton and Kozlowski booths. The Fair has been an integral part of their lives, filled with family traditions and more Gravenstein apple magic.
Dutton Products at this Year’s Fair
As always, the Dutton presence will be found all over the Fair. If you’re looking for apples, be sure to visit the Dutton’s apple booth which can be found in Apple Alley, near the entrance to this year’s event. Once you’ve bought some apples, be sure to taste Dutton Estate wines at the Wine tent or as part of this year’s VIP experience. http://gravensteinapplefair.com/highlight/vip/ And, if you’re in the mood for cider, you’ll find Dutton Estate Cider in the Craft Cider tent or again, enjoy their cider as a VIP.
Maybe, if you’re lucky, some of the Dutton/Kozlowski Gravenstein Apple Fair magic will touch you too when you come to visit! At the very least, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy some of the finest quality products – raised sustainably with love and a long family tradition – Sonoma County has to offer!
Gravenstein Apple Fair August 12 -13, 2023!
At Beautiful Ragle Ranch Park, Sebastopol, CA
And, in the longstanding tradition of Fair sponsors supporting and helping to create the wonderful event voted “Best Fair or Festival” by the readers of Bohemian, Frank Kozlowski was instrumental in securing Ragle Ranch Park as the Fair’s forever home.