Gravenstein Apples – Sonoma’s Other World-Famous Crop

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 — are one of North America’s earliest apples on the market, and often signal the beginning of each year’s harvest season.


Gravs are delicious and versatile; depending on the degree of ripeness they can be perfect for munching or making into applesauce, apple pies, and other baked goodies.

People have long believed that the Gravenstein was brought to Sonoma County sometime around 1812 by Russian fur trappers at Fort Ross. However, recent evidence indicates that Gravs might have arrived even earlier, brought north from New Spain by the Spaniards.

Gravs are prolific producers and were planted widely in Sonoma County in the mid-1800s. They grew most easily and best in the cool summers and sandy soil around Sebastopol. Eventually, they were shipped nationwide by the trainload and played a major role in Sonoma County’s commerce. In more recent years, Gravenstein production declined significantly due to suburban development, orchard/vineyard conversion, a global over-abundance of apples, and other factors.

Today, Gravensteins are rebounding in popularity among consumers who are looking for more-tasty, more-local varieties of produce. However, because of their soft skin Gravs are now considered difficult to ship far and wide as raw fruit. So the best place to get Sonoma County Gravensteins is in Sonoma County.

Gravs are typically available in late July to mid-August at all four Oliver’s Markets locations. 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, how-to-do-it-yourself demonstrations, a children’s corner, a life-on-the-farm arena, and more. But the focus, of course, is on those wonderful Gravs. Come visit our company booth and say hi! Or take your taste buds on a tour of tasty ciders at the Cider Tent.

No matter which way you prefer to enjoy your Gravenstein, we hope you have a delicious time doing it!

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