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Posted by on Oct 28, 2012 in Blog, Road Trip USA, Travel |

Gravensteins, Grapes, and Olive Groves in Northern California

You know it is going to be a good day when it begins by chasing a flock of wild turkeys from the backyard. Heather says everyone has their own turkey-spooking technique. I was lucky enough to see hers but sad I missed the opportunity to create the next viral YouTube video phenomena. Perhaps it is just as well.

I arrived to Northern California several days ago to spend time with my dear friend and former housemate, Heather. An internationally-traveled California native, Heather gave me private tours of in the Bay Area and Sonoma County, telling stories about the buildings, fields, people, local economy, politics, protests, and personal history. I learned that gravenstein apples are the predominant apple crop in Sebastapol but that they have a short season and don’t ship or store well, so many of the orchards have almost completely transitioned to vineyards. If you can get your hands on the gravensteins though, they make a mean pie!

After the orchard, we tasted wine from Taft Street WineryGraton Ridge Cellars, and Hook & Ladder. All three vineyards offered a great tasting room, outdoor spaces, and wine. However, we got a special treat at Hook & Ladder when they invited us back to see the crush (of grapes) and danced away to “Won’t You Take Me to Funky Town”. Hit play on the video below and enjoy.

After a vineyard picnic, we picked up Heather’s mom and drove through Sonoma County to a family friend’s house to can olives recently picked and cured with lye. I asked how it is possible that we can eat olives cured with a highly caustic substance.  Nobody knew and I found it amusing that it seemed that no one had previously considered it. The four of us had a delightful time scooping the green olives out of their salty brine bath, tossing the bad ones, and canning the rest into jars. Five hours and about twenty gallons of olives later, our project was complete. The room was filled with light-heated conversation, laughter, and the catchy tunes of our host’s son’s band The Brother’s Comatose. I only wished I liked olives.

For stories in pictures, check out ‘Sonoma County California in Photos’.