Sometimes I ride to eat, but often I’ll just ride to ride, taking a power bar with me for a quick snack. But fresh produce stands always get me to pull over. Sonoma County, located 50 kilometers from San Francisco, has a ton of them. Sonoma is our wine, spa and coastal playground with more than 350 wineries, over 100 organic farms, and 80 kilometers miles of stunning Pacific coast. We love to ride there, and we love to eat there. And summertime brings lots of farm stands where you can stop to enjoy fresh fruit from the source. Here are a couple that might tempt you to pull over, too. Know of others? Tell us!
Dry Creek Peach and Produce is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through the summer. The fruit thrives in the ideal growing climate of Sonoma wine country. The peaches are left on the trees to ripen in the California sun as long as possible to maximize their sweetness and freshness, just as the farm’s original owners did when they first planted more than 50 years ago.
You might catch it open if you’re riding Cindi Servantes’ route through the Mendocino Coast to Lake County on a Mission for Twisties and Gourmet Food, or any of our other riders routes through Sonoma. Cindi’s piece on Sneaking in the Back Door to St. Helena gets you pretty close!
New products like organic peach jam (quickly snapped up by top restaurants, including Alice Waters’ famous Chez Panisse) have been introduced, and the orchard is home to more than 30 varieties of white and yellow peaches, as well as nectarines, plums, pluots, figs, persimmons and Meyer lemons. You can also buy Dry Creek Peach Bellini mix, Dry Creek Peach chips, peach wood for barbecues, and peach pruning wreaths.
As summer wears on and the peaches start to wane, then the Gravenstein apple makes its early return to local markets. Celebrated as an heirloom variety and listed in the “Ark of Taste” with Slow Food USA (see their blog post about this), this sweet, fragrant apple is beloved by chefs and home cooks for its versatility in pies, apple sauces, desserts, or just crunched fresh.
In the fall, you can experience another true Sonoma County treat. The Crane Melon Barn first opened in the 1920′s after Oliver Crane developed the melon. The Crane family originally built the barn out of Redwood trees in 1868. This rustic, yet tasty look into the agricultural history of Sonoma County.