Find the Apple to Your Pie at These U-Pick Orchards

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Fall is around the corner which means it’s time to start planning your apple picking trip! We love apple picking because the fruit is mostly within kid reach and there are no thorns to deal with (looking at you, blackberries). Bring home a bushel and make yourself a pie and our favorite homemade instant pot applesauce (snag yourself this handy peeler, you’ll thank us later). Make sure you check the website or call ahead to find out about availability and COVID precautions before you head to these u-pick apple orchards in the Bay Area!

 

Sonoma County

 

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EARTHseed Farm (formerly Gabriel Farm)

If eating organic is important to your family, head to EARTHseed Farm located in Sebastopol, a town practically synonymous with the fruit. In addition to picking your own apples, you can schedule a tour of the certified organic orchard.. Varieties include McIntosh, Gravenstein, Gala, Braeburn, Gilbert Golden Delicious, Fuji and Rome. A $25 entrance fee covers your Saturday U-pick time slot which can be booked on a week-by-week basis starting the Tuesday before. The farm has a store with juice, jams and pears for sale as well.

3175 Sullivan Rd.
Sebastopol, CA

Online: earthseedfarm.org

Hales Apple Farm

The Hale family farm has been around for over 120 years and Dave Hale is involved in the growing and harvesting of over 30 varieties of heirloom apples, continuing the time-honored tradition of apple farming within both his family and the area. The roadside stand is open daily from 9-5 but you can call ahead to make arrangements for U-Pick.

1526 Gravenstein Hwy N
Sebastopol, CA

Online: cuesa.org

Apple-a-Day Ratzlaff Ranch

With a name like that, you know Ratzlaff Ranch is focused on apples! U-pick Gravensteins, Rome and Golden Delicious are a bargain at $2/pound. They are open daily from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. (except Thursdays and Saturdays when they are closed). While you are there, don’t forget to pick up some of their award-winning apple cider, best chilled or warm?! You decide. Check their website for the opening date.

13128 Occidental Rd.
Sebastopol, CA

Online: appleadayranch.com

Casari Ranch 

This apple ranch by the coast boasts tall antique apple trees and U-Pick appointments can be arranged by emailing: arianamazzucchi@gmail.com.

 

Chileno Valley Ranch

Once again, this year Chileno Valley Ranch will offer a pre-paid, drive-up option beginning September 5. Purchase your fruit and farm items in advance and schedule a date to pick them up, then you will be emailed a time to drive through and pick up your order. More information is found on their Facebook page.  For the September 5 and 12 drive through pick, varieties include Zesta, Senshu, Molly’s Delicious and William’s Pride sold in 10 lb bags for $20. You can also purchase pears, ground beef, honey and olive oil. 

5105 Chileno Valley Rd.
Petaluma, CA
Online: mikeandsallygalebeefranch.com

Watsonville

photo: Kate Loweth

Gizdich Ranch

The u-pick apple season at Gizdich starts early September (check their website for exact dates) and lasts about a month. Their pie and deli shop offers a boxed lunch so stop by for lunch and then take one of their out-of-this-world pies, apple dumplings or puff pastries home (is your mouth watering yet?!).  On hot days, the kids can enjoy a homemade apple or Oallie popsicle. They are open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily during picking season. Bring your own containers.

55 Peckham Rd.
Watsonville, CA

Online: gizdich-ranch.com

Live Earth Farm

This spot in Watsonville grows a small variety of apples including Gravensteins, Pink Pearls and Macintosh. The u-pick start date is still TBD as it depends on when the crop ripens. Stay up to date on their u-pick schedule via their Facebook page. Expect them in late September or early October. The picking is a bargain at $1.50/pound.

1275 Green Valley Road
Watsonville, CA

Online: liveearthfarm.net

Clearview Orchards

Located in the beautiful Santa Cruz Basin, Clearview Orchards offers a huge variety of certified organic apples, specializing in Gala and Fuji, Honey Crisp and Mitsu. Pick some apples and enjoy their beautiful terraced grounds with a view of the Watsonville valley. They also sell delicious local honey and fresh-pressed apple cider and kiddos can even pick out their own pumpkins, just in time for fall. This year they will open Saturdays and Sundays starting September 11, from 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Advanced reservations are required and a $5 entry fee for each vehicle will give you a one hour time slot for your littles to pick to their heart’s content.

646 Trabing Rd.
Watsonville, CA

Online: clearvieworchards.com

Davenport

photo: Sarah Lenssen

Swanton Pacific Ranch

2021 Update: Swanton Pacific Ranch suffered significant damage in the CZU Complex Fire in 2020 and remains closed. Make a donation to help with fire relief efforts here. 

Owned and operated by California Polytechnic State University, Swanton Pacific Ranch produces over five tons of apples every year. The two-acre orchard hosts 12 different apple varieties, all with individual ripening periods, meaning that the picking season lasts into October. Nestled in the foothills along the central coast and outlying Monterey Bay, this orchard is the perfect distance away for a family day trip!

480 Swanton Road
Davenport, CA
831-458-5410
Online: spranch.org

Further Afield

Apple Hill Region

For a bit of a longer trek, you’ll get no better apple selection than in the Apple Hill Region, about fifty miles east of Sacramento. With over 55 ranches offering different apple varieties and activities, you are bound to find the perfect experience for the kids. The Apple Hill Growers Association lists orchard details including U-pick hours, picnic areas, local attractions, and more. The u-pick ranches tend to be very small and very popular, so it is a good idea to call the ranches themselves to make sure they have the apple variety you want and that the fruit is available.

For more farms in the Apple Hill Growers Association, check out their site or call their number at: 530-644-7692.

—Christine Lai & Kate Loweth

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