Visiting Apple Hill is an autumn tradition for basically everyone in Northern California. Once you go, you’ll go back every year. A few weeks ago Brandon and I took a drive up there to catch a break from the heat wave that was lingering over Sacramento. The foothills are always cooler and quieter and were exactly what our busy minds needed that week.
The thing about Apple Hill is it’s not one farm you can visit, it’s actually the name for a general area of farms and orchards. My family and I learned this the hard way our first time up there. We had no idea where to go so we ended up stuck at the super popular spots with allllll the people. Since then we’ve found some spots we really enjoy. I highlight them all below!
KIDS INC/DELFINO FARMS
We started the day out at Kids Inc, also called Delfino Farms. Don’t let the name fool you! Kids Inc. is for adults too! We got there right when they opened on our last visit and it was marvelous. We saw just one other family strolling through the shaded area. I always start out with the nature walk because I love nature walks, but the bonus at Kids Inc is that it lets out in the middle of the apple orchard. I honestly haven’t found a prettier apple orchard to photograph. Sadly Kids Inc isn’t a you-pick orchard, so you can’t actually pick any apples off the trees. My favorite you-pick orchard so far has been Pine O Mine. It’s on the smaller side but I’ve never seen it get packed.
My favorite part of Kids Inc. is the small batch hard cider brewed by farm. One of the owners of the Delfino Family Farm (I'm pretty sure his name is Chris) started brewing the cider last year and Brandon and I happened to be at the farm when he was selling it for the first time. Chris told is he named the hard cider Henrietta Stitch after his grandmother who helped run the farm back when it started in the 60’s. He went on to tell us that the cider is aged in oak barrels that he got from a friend of his who owns a vineyard.
The cider has a nice winey taste to it! It’s crisp and dry and sweet. We ran into Chris again this year and were sure to pick up a bottle of batch number two! He told us all about how he added some more fuji apples to this year's batch and how it changed the alcohol content but not the sweetness of this year's cider. As a hard cider fan, I already liked his cider and hearing him talk about it so passionately makes me like it even more. Call me a millennial but I love it when people love what they do!
Oh and the packaging isn’t half bad, either! It comes in a 20 oz bottle and you can pick it up at Kids Inc for $14. I buy at least one bottle each time I head up to Apple Hill.
Pretty soon we were craving some apple cider donuts. I always hop over (more like drive over) to Rainbow Orchards for my donuts. They’re $1 a piece and they’re made fresh. Like burn your mouth when you take a bite fresh. The line is usually super long but being there on a Friday morning meant we got to walk right up to the window and order our yummy treats. I ordered a dozen donuts out of excitement and it was more than enough for two people. Really, we didn’t need more than eight. Now I know for next time.
We scarfed our donuts at a picnic table surrounded by apple trees. We sat there for a while people watching and talking. Taking in the cool air and the relishing in how empty the place was.
Next up on my list was a farm I’d never been to before called 24 Carrots Farm. What a great name, right? It supposedly had great views of the foothills but sadly it was closed when we got there. The information listed on the website was a little confusing so I knew there was a chance it wouldn’t be open. I was bummed but I plan on checking it out on my next trip to Apple Hill!
This is where Google maps will take you if you type Apple Hill into the search bar. Boa Vista is a large marketplace that sells all kinds of apples and apple-based products. I’m talking apple butter, apple barbecue sauce, apple wine, and of course apple juice and apple cider. Brandon’s favorite apple cider is from here so we always stop for it. I love the apple juice from Boa Vista because it comes in a glass growler (and as we know, I have a thing about collecting glass vessels to reuse later).
The vibe here is of a busy produce stand so I wouldn’t expect to have a relaxing time here. It is a great one stop shop for apple things though!
MY TOP TIPS
The best tip I can give when it comes to Apple Hill is go as early as you can and on a weekday if you can. I’m not uncomfortable with crowds at all but I loved feeling like I had some of these places mostly to myself.
High Hill Ranch is very, very popular and can get crowded really quickly. We had trouble finding parking by noon on a Friday. I can only imagine what it’s like on Saturdays! Abel’s Apples is also pretty popular but I brave the long line for their apple cake at least once a year! The cake is so freakin good and it freezes well so you can have one on hand for when the sweet tooth strikes. Seriously, get the apple cake from Abel’s.
Even though we didn’t actually pick any apples, going out to Apple Hill helped me mentally welcome fall. It actually helped put me in the headspace to plan my fall capsule wardrobe! But we’ll cover that later this week.