As all of us in Sonoma County are anxiously awaiting the ripening of the Gravenstein apples.I am thinking back to early April when we had the apple blossom spectacular all over West County. I was lucky enough to visit the Devoto Family Gardens in Sebastopol at the height of the blossoming season.
Devoto Gardens was started by Susan and Stan Devoto in the 1970’s. Stan is the apple guy. The farm has over 50 different varieties of apples. The Devoto orchards are all dry farmed. Which means that just the natural moisture present in the Sebastopol fog collects on the leaves and is absorbed into the tree, this also makes the roots go very deep in search of natural water.
They also grow flowers; Sweet Pea, Cosmos, Dahlia, Tuberose and Sunflowers and a few vegetables; San Marzano tomatoes and lettuces. The Sweet Peas are all grown in a hoop-house. Sweet Peas are my favorite flower! You truly have not lived until you have been in a 300 foot long hoop house with solid Sweet Pea blooms…ah heaven! Alongside the apples and flowers sits seven acres of Pinot Noir grapes.
Jolie Devoto Wade arranged to meet with me the day before she was leaving with her husband Hunter Wade for their honeymoon. Jolie is such a joyful and generous spirit. She grew up on this farm and has a real love and a deep understanding of the land. As the only child of the three Devoto family girls to spread her wings and fly and then return to work at the family business. I am sure she stopped packing to show me and my son Ben around the farm.
Jolie and Hunter started selling their Apple Sauced Cider last year. It is a delicious hard cider produced from 100% Gravenstein apples.. They have some really inspired ideas about apple combinations for future blends. So delicious! Jolie & Hunter developed a cider using 100% Sebastopol backyard fruit to raise money for the “Save the Gravenstein” campaign. This is a program supported and organized by Slow Food Russian River.
This apple farm and cider making is truly a test of patience. They have taken on a new big risk this spring, they planted a new orchard of apple trees just for their cider business. Apple trees need at least five years to see if the trees will produce and then hope that it is a flavor profile that you can work with. Jolie and Wade are sure to deliver us wonderful Local Cider in many varieties for years to come.
The Apple Sauced cider profile was so full and ripe that it was perfectly suited to be the star player in the dried fruit poaching liquid. Dried apples, apricots, cranberries, Flame raisins and a few figs. Poach them all gently in the Apple Sauced Cider, which has been slightly reduced with the addition of a cup or so of simple syrup. Rolled the drained fruit up in filo dough. Bake until crispy and golden brown. Serve with Candied Ginger ice cream and the Apple Sauced cider sauce reduced even further of a drizzling sauce.
Life, my friends…has a way of twisting and turning and I have been bound and determined to trust in the unfolding. I have been working on transforming my own personal front and back yards into a sustainable vegetable garden, built on permaculture ideas. Take a peek at Kitchen Garden Path.
Devoto Gardens / Apple Sauced Cider
655 Gold Ridge Road
Sebastopol, California 95472
farm visits by appointment only