Saving Apples by Making Cider. Drink a Gravenstein Today.


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):

LATimes: The future of Gravenstein apples hangs on a thin stem by David Karp

NPR: Gravenstein Apples: The End Of Summer In A Fruit by Nicole SpIridakis

Zester Daily: The Fight To Save Sonoma’s Gravenstein Apple by Tina Caputo

Slow Food USA Ark of Taste: Sebastopol Gravenstein

Slow Food USA Sebastopol Gravenstein Apple Presidia

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


Apple Belts of North America circa 1914.

LOC apple image

The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture:

Apple belts.

In comparing the great apple growing regions of the continent it is convenient to designate each by its leading variety. In the eastern part of the continent, there is the Fameuse or Wealthy belt on the north, the Ben Davis belt on the south, and the Baldwin belt lying intermediate between these two. It is seen that varieties differ greatly as to their adaptability to different regions. The degree of soil aeration and of soil moisture and the range of atmospheric and soil temperatures are among the most important determining factors of the geographical range of commercial apple growing with any variety. Passing westward into the mid continental region it is found that the Baldwin belt does not extend west of Lake Michigan. The climatic extremes are here too severe for that variety and many of its eastern associates of a similar degree of hardiness.

In all that vast territory which extends westward from the Great Lakes these varieties disappear and do not again appear till the states of the Pacific Coast are reached. Instead the Wealthy belt extends southward till it reaches the region where Wealthy yields leadership to Ben Davis. In this connection it is worthy of note that from the Atlantic Coast westward to the Missouri River, the north margin of the Ben Davis belt approximately coincides with the southern boundary of the geological area covered by the Wisconsin drift.

Wealthy belt.

The mid-continental territory in which Wealthy is generally speaking the leading variety includes northern Illinois, the north half of Iowa, and practically all of the apple growing districts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and northern Nebraska. Among the more important varieties associated with it are for the more northern parts Oldenburg, Okabenal, Patten (Patten Greening) and Malinda. Among the very hardiest of the large size apples for the North are those of the Hibernal group, but their fruit is so austere that it is esteemed of little value except for culinary uses. In the southern part of the Wealthy belt are grown hardy varieties of more or less local value such as Salome, Windsor, Black Annette and Colorado Orange varieties which as yet have not established themselves in the great world markets but which are valued where better varieties cannot be satisfactorily grown.

Ben Davis belt.

Generally speaking, Ben Davis is the leading variety in central and southern Illinois, the south half of Iowa, and the apple growing districts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and the south half of Nebraska. With its close kin the Gano, and the Black Ben Davis which evidently are highly colored bud sports of Ben Davis. it probably produces at least one half of the commercial apple crop in this region. Winesap and Jonathan appear to be next in order of importance with Winesap perhaps in the lead. Other important varieties are Grimes, Rome Beauty, Willow (Twig), Missouri (Pippin), Minkler and Ralls. York Imperial is gaining ground Stayman Winesap is one of the newer kinds which will be more largely planted. Delicious also is attracting attention particularly because of its agreeable dessert quality and good appearance. The Stayman and Delicious are being planted to some extent in the southern part of the Wealthy belt as Jonathan and Grimes have been.

Page 325.


The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture:

A Discussion for the Amateur, and the Professional and Commercial Grower, of the Kinds, Characteristics and Methods of Cultivation of the Species of Plants Grown in the Regions of the United States and Canada for Ornament, for Fancy, for Fruit and for Vegetables; with Keys to the Natural Families and Genera, Descriptions of the Horticultural Capabilities of the States and Provinces and Dependent Islands, and Sketches of Eminent Horticulturists, Volume 1

Edited by Liberty Hyde Bailey, Macmillan, 1914

Read or download a copy via google here.