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Gravenstein Apples - Sonoma's Other World-Famous Crop

Gravenstein Apples were first planted in Sonoma County in 1811.

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In the rich farmland of lush Sonoma County, the apple variety of choice is often the humble Gravenstein. Ripening in late July, Gravs — as they are affectionately known — often signal the beginning of each year's harvest season.

First planted in Sonoma County in 1811 by Russian explorers, Gravensteins are rebounding in popularity among consumers who are looking for more-tasty, more-local varieties of produce. Gravs are perfect for apple pies, applesauce, baking, cooking, or just plain eating.

However, because of their soft skin they can't be shipped far and wide as raw fruit. So the best place to get Sonoma County Gravensteins is in Sonoma County.

Experience the essence of summer by biting into a fresh Sebastopol Gravenstein at a farmers market, or by digging into a slice of Mom's Apple Pie with a healthy dollop of ice cream on top.

Gravs are typically available in late July to mid-August at Sonoma County's farm and farmers markets, roadside produce stands, and grocery stores that feature local produce. This luscious fruit is also available at the Gravenstein Apple Fair, held in Sebastopol each August.

The Gravenstein Apple Fair is the primary fundraiser for Sonoma County Farm Trails, and features local food, wine, cider, and beer, as well live music, contests and activities, chef demonstrations, a children's corner,  a life-on-the-farm arena, and more. But the focus, of course, is on those wonderful Gravs.

What to do with the Gravs once you have them? Well, here's a simple recipe for a great cobbler. Enjoy!

Gravenstein Apple Cobbler by Tammy Rossitto 
(Sonoma County Tourism Recipe Contest Winner)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • 1 box pound cake mix (do not use a moist cake mix, it won't work)
  • 1 cube unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 8 Sonoma County Gravenstein apples, cored, pared and sliced as for apple pie
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tblsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 c. sugar

1. Combine cake mix, 1 tsp cinnamon, pecans and butter; use either finger tips or a fork to mix until blended and crumbly.
2. Combine cornstarch, remaining 1 tsp cinnamon, cloves, salt and 1/2 cup sugar.
3. Toss cornstarch mixture with sliced apples until apples are well coated. Let stand for 5 minutes.
4. Butter a 9" x 13" glass baking dish.
5. Place apple mixture into glass baking dish.
6. Sprinkle cake mixture over apples. It will appear lumpy.
7. Bake for 45 minutes or until cake topping is golden brown
and apples are bubbling and tender.
8. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers.
Serves 9 - 12

The annual Gravenstein Apple Fair is held in Sebastopol each August. Check our Calendar of Events for current dates.

Find more info about Things to Do, Hotels & Lodging and Farms & Farmers Markets in Sonoma County.