Appetizers

Gravensteins set pace for extra-early apple season

Gravenstein apples
Gravenstein apples

Benefiting from mild summer weather and a warm spring, apples are rolling in early this summer. Leading the way is a fine crop of heirloom Gravensteins from Sonoma County.

"The crop looks incredible," said farmer Stan Devoto, who grows Gravensteins in Sebastopol. "We've had an almost ideal growing season. We had a lot of warm weather and very, very little rain."

That combination has spurred apples to ripen about two weeks early.

To celebrate the short season of this heirloom apple, The Fruit Guys offers a special Gravenstein Apple Box, available for shipment nationwide. Based in San Francisco, The Fruit Guys supplies fruit and vegetables direct to businesses and homes while working with small farmers to preserve heirloom varieties.

"Why the Gravenstein is so special, it has a long history, particularly in California," said Rebecca North, The Fruit Guy's head buyer. "Typically, it's the first apple of the season and starts the harvest."

"It's a really short window," added Chris Mittelstaedt, The Fruit Guys founder and CEO. "They don't store well. We get them in from the farms and literally deliver them overnight."

Now through Aug. 16, The Fruit Guys offers its special Gravenstein box with a portion of proceeds supporting small Northern California farmers. The special boxes also support the Slow Food Gravenstein Apple Presidium, a project of The Fruit Guys and Slow Food Russian River to encourage farmers to grow more heirloom varieties.

The boxes start at $29 for 16 Gravensteins with free shipping inside California. For more details, go to www.FruitGuys.com or call (877) 378-4863.

This weekend also is the Gravenstein Apple Fair at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol. For details and directions, click on www.gravensteinapplefair.com.

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