Southern California Harvest Adventures

10.6.11


FlavorFall

It's October, and time to harvest some fun. Journey to these three family-run farms in the Inland Empire for an epicurean adventure combining fresh food, tasty wine, and the great outdoors. FlavorFall!


Apple Picking Oak Glen

Good Apple

Mile-high Oak Glen in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains has plentiful apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and berry farms that make this hamlet a harvest haven. One of the area’s smallest u-pick apple orchards is the 2.5-acre mom-and-pop-run Willowbrook Apple Farm. Cheryl, Rick, and their kids specialize in an heirloom variety grown on 101-year-old trees: deep red Stayman Winesap apples, known for their sweet juiciness. Show up at Willowbrook and someone in the family will give a brief orientation on how to pick the apples without damaging the trees. (It takes Cheryl three hours to prune a tree, and she spends all winter doing it, so remember: respect mom!) Then you’re off to wander the orchard and pick your own apples, with the San Bernardino Mountains as a backdrop. Once your bag is full, stay on-site and try your hand at making a custom cider blend using an old-fashioned press and a mix of apples from area farms. Compete with your friends to see who can make the juice the fastest by throwing the apples into the hopper, turning the crank to chop them, and squeezing the raw juice into a bucket. Dipped-to-order caramel apples await those who just can’t get enough. Be sure to get to Willowbrook Apple Farm soon: picking opened last weekend and only goes until the first frost, usually November. Time to hit the sweet spot!

BONUS: Stop at locals’ favorite, Law’s Oak Glen Coffee Shop (38392 Oak Glen Road in Yucaipa, 2 miles northwest on Oak Glen Road from Willowbook Farm). The bona fide diner serves a tasty warm apple pie with ice cream and cinnamon sauce.

Take I-10 to exit 94 for Beaumont Ave. Go north on Beaumont, which becomes Oak Glen Rd., for 8.6 miles. Willowbrook Farm is the second farm on the right as you enter Oak Glen Village. Here is a map. Open Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. For more information call 909-797-9484. Dog-friendly, with limitations on roaming!


Guldseth Cherry Orchard

Green Card

Sometimes the name doesn’t say it all. Take Guldseth Cherry Orchard, set in Cherry Valley, a hilly farmland just below the San Bernardino foothills. In fall, the cherries here have all been picked (during a very short June/July season), but that doesn’t mean things come to a standstill at this homestead run by retired biology teacher, John, and his wife, Sue. Right now they’re offering a fresh alternative to shopping for your greens at farmers’ markets. Head straight to the source for an overflowing organic farm stand of green beans, arugula, bok choy, Anaheim peppers, Swiss chard, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, and plenty (plenty) more. Those looking to green their thumbs are in the right place: John loves squiring curious visitors down into the field, via his golf cart, for hands-on lessons in organic farming, plant biology, and harvesting (note: if you show any interest in farming, you can get a free gardening course here). Ask to pick some of the vegetables yourself and you’ll be doing so among one of the least commercial farms around. John and Sue do everything from digging the berms to laying the drip-water lines to supporting two local CSA food co-ops. Crops should be growing until around Thanksgiving, or the first frost. Go get your greens!

Guldseth Cherry Orchard is located at 9150 Whispering Pines Rd., Cherry Valley. Here is a map. Take I-10 to exit 94 for Beaumont Ave. Go north on Beaumont for 4 miles and turn right on Orchard St. Make your first left on Avenida Miravilla, and after 1.3 miles make a slight right onto Whispering Pines. Look for the signs for fruits and veggies. Open 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m. every day, but it's recommended to call ahead to confirm hours and find out what’s in season: 951-845-2490. Dog-friendly!

Joseph Filippi Winery

Modern Vintage

For more than 170 years wine grapes have been successfully grown in Southern California. Uncork some history—and award-winning vinos—at Joseph Filippi Winery & Vineyards, a family business since 1922. Set in the Cucamonga Valley, one of California’s oldest wine-growing districts, today 4th and 5th generations of the Filippi family run the vineyards and win awards (10 in 2011 alone) for their wines. Red varietals like Petite Sirah, Alicante, Mourvèdre, and Merlot are grown by the Filippi family, while white grapes are specially sourced from cooler climates. Belly up to the old wooden wine barrel bar, where $5 gets you 5 tastes from up to 24 varieties, including the Alicante Bouschet Port (a double gold medal winner). Outside, kick back at one of the trellis-covered picnic tables and relax among flowing grapevines, imagining a time long ago: before Prohibition, there were more than 60 wineries in this appellation; today, only three family wineries are left, largely due to pressure to turn farmland into housing. The Filippi family is working with Rancho Cucamonga to revitalize abandoned vineyards in the area. Good vintage redux.

TIP: Tastings are free on Tuesdays.

Joseph Filippi Winery & Vineyards is located at 12467 Base Line Rd., Rancho Cucamonga. Here is a map. Tasting room hours are Mondays 12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m., Tuesday–Thursday 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m., and Sundays 12:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. Tastings end 30 minutes prior to closing time every day and are $5 for 5 tastes. The patio is dog-friendly!

Solvang Chain Gang

It’s the granddaddy of century rides, and this year marks its 30th anniversary. The Solvang Century (there’s a half-century, too) is a West Coast classic best experienced with the leadership and friendship of Team In Training (TNT). From now until October 14, TNT is offering 50% off registration—that’s a savings of $50! New and experienced cyclists can register now and start gearing up (TNT participants get discounts at local bike shops). Then saddle up for Saturday training rides throughout Los Angeles, giving you a chance to explore new areas while getting in shape for the Solvang hills. TNT expects 5,000 people to take part in this non-competitive recreational roll that starts and ends in downtown Solvang and travels the most scenic routes to Lompoc, Vandenberg, Santa Maria, and back through Los Olivos. Your wheels will be turning for a good cause: TNT participants in the Solvang Century (100- or 50-mile ride) help raise funds and awareness for the fight against blood cancers. Hot dang, get ready for Solvang!

TIP:
We’re not yanking your chain: Register for the Solvang Century (100- or 50-mile ride) and get 50% off registration—a savings of $50. Just mention this ad.

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