Pomme Fruit: Gravenstein Apples In The Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California.
The Sebastopol Gravenstein, a vividly colored, aromatic, flavorful heirloom apple is historically important in the Russian River Valley. So dominant in the region, the ribbon of roadway running through the acres of orchards became known as The Gravenstein Highway – honoring the apples prolific presence. Declining prices for processing apples, the increasing popularity of other more ‘commercially viable’ apples, and a booming West Coast wine industry, all led to Gravenstein orchards being ripped out to make way for the extremely lucrative wine grapes that now populate the region.
David Karp, writing for the LA Times:
“Gravenstein is still a favorite in northern Europe and is cultivated from Nova Scotia to the Pacific Northwest, but it reaches its greatest perfection in the Sebastopol district of western Sonoma County, at the border of the maritime and inland climatic zones, where the morning fog gives way to a moderately hot afternoon sun. The area’s fine, sandy loam soil is well suited to apples. The huge trees, grafted on seedling rootstock, develop roots deep enough to survive the dry summers without irrigation.”
Concerned Sonoma County cider makers are working to revive interest in this heirloom apple by focusing on the Gravenstein’s many desirable cider worthy traits, crafting ‘Gravs’ into unique ciders that celebrate and express the heritage of the apple and the region.
Saving Apples by Making Cider. Drink a Gravenstein Today.
Find A Gravenstein Cider:
Tilted Shed Ciderworks: Graviva! Semi Dry Cider
Apple Sauced Cider: Save The Gravenstein! Cider
Devoto Orchards Cider: Gravenstein first release October 14, 2013
Gleanings (sources for further reading):
Gravenstein apple image (detail) – credit: “U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705”
Link: The future of Gravenstein apples hangs on a thin stem. July 12, 2013 By David Karp. Special to the Los Angeles Times