I had a rich day. It was the last day of ‘fruit’ for the winery. And, how stunningly fruitful it was…
We picked apples. There were only two trees, both dry farmed. The first tree grew an unknown variety. Its colors ranged from dark red to a rare fire orange. Their acidity begged for peanut butter and the easy morning sun. We then scooped some golden delicious babies. I absolutely turned an eye to these kinds prior to this. They rarely lended any proper satiety, due to their often grainy texture and high sugar content. But, these guys were solid. They cried out to be cooked into a apple butter or even a sexy apple pie.
Dry farmed? What does that even mean? Simply that the area is not irrigated. The roots of the plant rely mostly on ground water. That means CONCENTRATED flavor. Yes, these are some next level apples. These are all going to our end of harvest cider project. We are making a Basque-style cider which is dry and goes through fermentation in bottle. The trees are located on a friend of the winemaker’s private property. The most genuine couple with a garden to kill…
After, they led us on an adventure around their lovely garden. It was incredibly plentiful, beyond just apple trees. They grow several fruits and vegetables. We picked figs and tasted the last of the blackberries. We smelled bay leaves and chili peppers. Then, our prepped palettes headed to Penny Royal Farm to eat a boatload of cheese.
The place is a gastronome’s haven. It is a farmstead, where goat and sheep are tended to as much as the brussel sprouts and herbs are in the garden. After picking apples, our stomachs were set on lunch. Luckily, one of the owners works here, giving us a casual tour and cutting the lunch ordering process out for us! We immediately dove into an incredible charcuterie board graced with homemade cheeses, from triple creams to aged tomes, with savory accompaniments. There was even mac n’ cheese, made with a camembert style cheese called the Velvet Sister. What? YES, house made milky gooey goodness mixed and baked into pasta. I checked into my hotel room in heaven right then and there. Well, I did officially when the sauvignon blanc and Cardamom/watermelon kombucha started flowing…(yes, it is not California without some belly friendly ferments…) Penny Royal also produces wine, with 23 acres under vine.
This farmstead is simple. The decor is full of wood and all their facilities are exposed to the public to enjoy. From the goats to the cheese cave, you see it all. That transparency is what I live for. And, all these facets create a sustainable and supportive environment for us and our earth. The barn and food scraps supply compost for the farm. This directly translates into quality food and vino.
Mendocino county is gorgeous nonetheless. This was my first time in the Anderson Valley AVA! What a way to pick our last fruit. Nourishment for the soul requires good people, beverage, and CIBO!
As I sit here reflecting, watching the second season of the Medici on Netflix, I think about the wealth of joy I have for the little things of life. Today, I helped pick apples and tasted a variety of late summer crops. Noshing on blackberries and figs, I gazed at a plethora of redwoods slowly greeting a cloud of smoke. Yes, today I experienced my first fire evacuation warning. A stark turn from the initial tone of this post, but that is one of the reasons to how the day enriched me in such an incredible way.
Last night, a fire began just 11 miles north of my new home. It burned 10,000 acres in just 12 hours. I was awoken by the smell of burning wood. I saw hills, once rich olive green, now completely black. Although our town is safe for now, the hills north of us still remained encompassed in clouds of smoke, dust, and ash.
This all reminds me that the wealth of life is in the smallest of details. Whether it is a creamy nibble of cheese or the sun’s morning light, the bits and bites are what get us along. It will hold us together in tragedy.
Stay close to those you love and treat yourself to a good sip and nosh tonight. The time will keep the twists and turns on the horizon. Might as well be sipping bubbles when they do come…!
Update 10/26/2019: I am now being evacuated from my town. I intended to post this a day or so ago, but was caught up in a 13 hour day at the winery. Please find shelter or provide shelter if you are located in Sonoma County. Let’s stay strong.