It’s been a busy week around the Bay. World Series fever arrived with a down pouring of rain. It’s as though someone flipped a switch and gave us an electrifying jump start to fall. With things like baseball games and Halloween keeping you busy, it’s easy to forget other fall favorites. But if your trip to the pumpkin patch left you craving another dose of country living, think apples.
About an hour north off Highway 101 is Sebastopol, and though vineyards have gained the edge, apples still steal the hearts of visitors and locals alike.
Twin Hill Ranch has been growing apples for more than 60 years. U-pick is ok, but if you’re not in the mood the country store won’t disappoint. Along with oodles of apples, you’ll find everything else you can make an apple into… pies, juice, apple sauce, butters and jams. Don’t miss the apple bread. Twin Hill Ranch, 1689 Pleasant Hill Road, Sebastopol, 707-823-2815
Visitors used to be able to pick their own apples, but the good word got out and Hale’s Apple Farm became a victim of its own success. The farm couldn’t accommodate everyone, so at least for this season you have to depend on the professionals to pick for you. Throw a cooler in your trunk, so you can bring some apple cider home. Hale’s Apple Farm, 1526 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol , 707-823-4613
Andy’s Market is just across the road. Go in and walk around. It’s one of those open air markets where the fruit and vegetables almost look too good to eat. Andy’s Market, 1691 N. Gravenstein Highway, Sebastopol, 707-823-8661
If you’re willing to spend a little more time behind the wheel, Apple Hill® has apples and well, a little bit of everything else to go along with them. Apple Hill® is a group of 50 plus ranches located between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe, just east of Placerville and west of Pollock Pines on the north side of Highway 50. On busy weekends free shuttles help folks get from one ranch to the next. When parking runs out, and it will, at some ranches folks park in the apple orchards between the trees.
You can download the Apple Hill® maps to help decide where to spend your day, but here’s a few suggestions to help you get rolling.
Stories of apple doughnuts bring many to Abel’s Apple Acres. (#38 on your downloaded map) You can also get apple crisp, apple strudel, apple fritters.. you get the idea. Abel’s Apple Acres (#38), 2345 Carson Road, Placerville, 530-626-6521
Number (#1) on the map is High Hill Ranch. This is a great stop for families with young children. Rent a rod and head to the trout fishing pond. There’s pony rides, a large picnic area and the ranch is dog friendly. High Hill Ranch (#1), 2901 High Hill Road, Placerville, 530-644-1973
Don’t leave High Hill Ranch without heading next door to Fudge Factory Farm (#40). Splurge on an apple covered in chocolate, caramel or both, or better yet, decorate your own. They provide the caramel coated apple and some chocolate frosting to glue on an assortment of candy. Guaranteed sugar rush. Fudge Factory Farm, 2860 High Hill Road, Placerville, 530-644-3492