Crisp Jamboree: Gravenstein Apple Fair

Can't wait for fall? It gets an early start, in August, in Sonoma County.

MUCH AUTUMN-STYLE ADO... is made each year when the first sighting of a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is made, or the first pumpkin scone down at your local bakery, or the first pumpkin leaves air freshener shows up on the shelves of your grocery store. But true fans of fall know that they don't need to wait for the traditional hallmarks of the season to get excited; they're already holding a proverbial candle for the crispest season, even through the heat of summer (it is a pumpkin-scented candle, of course). It can be hard to wait for the third week in September, and the autumn equinox, to get the party started, and even harder than that is many California cities stay a mite summery through to Halloween. But if you need your autumn ASAP, look to Sonoma County, which has one of the sweetest get-togethers on the calendar. Literally sweet, as it is...

THE GRAVENSTEIN APPLE FAIR: If you're doing a wine country visit around the middle of August — Aug. 13 and 14, to get specific — and you need a harbinger of fall, make for Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol. The caramel apples, ciders, and straight-up slices of locally grown fruit-yummy Gravenstein goodness are some of the stars of the party, as are wines, beer, and eats aplenty. Cost to attend? It's fifteen dollars for adults, though if you arrive by bike, it's $10. Sonoma County Farm Trails is the organization behind the homestyle event, an event that may see some August-warm temps even as the spirit of October and November reign. Can't wait for pumpkin spice latte to return? Best start seeking out the early apple festivals, the August ones, like the famous Gravenstein Apple Fair, which is marking its 43rd go-around in 2016.

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