Daytripping Mendocino’s Wine Country: Gowan’s Oak Tree, Anderson Valley

Gowan's Oak Tree, Anderson Valley, Highway 128.

Although Mendocino County remains one of my favorite wine-tasting regions in all of California, I need to point out that Highway 128 offers much more than wine, and that the almighty grape is not the only show in town. The Anderson Valley excels in apple production, in particular, although the beginning of apple season still remains about two weeks away (yes, most current supermarket apples are actually from last year’s crop, just out of cold storage). Anyhow, when it comes to tasting the best of the best, the Anderson Valley is a West Coast apple mecca, and Gowan’s Oak Tree is one of the main apple epicenters in the area (along with the Philo Apple Farm, just a small stretch to the north, on the same side of the highway). Believe it or not, Gowan’s will offer about 65 different apples during their season, which will usually wrap up completely by Thanksgiving.

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I suppose that my timing could have been much better last Monday, considering that I jumped the gun of apple season by a mere two weeks. However, I can always find something to buy at Gowan’s, and the cherries looked delicious. Each one was perfect, and I ate the entire bag in one sitting. I would do it again. How could you not?

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For those keeping score, Gravenstein apples are one of the more than 200 items on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, which complies a list of heritage foods facing extinction. Fresh Gravensteins should begin to appear by the end of this month, but for now, I’m happy to buy a jar of Gowan’s Gravenstein Apple Sauce (the ingredients are simply “whole peeled, cored Gravenstein apples and well water”). I’ll be eating this apple sauce alongside pork chops, no doubt. Isn’t that schwell?
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