Blackbirds are gathering in flocks. Their scree-scree calls herald the onset of fall on the Central Coast and with that come apples! Time to head to See Canyon.
See Canyon rests in a small microclimate that is favorable for growing a variety of apples. The low slanting winter sun cannot reach into the canyon resulting in long cold spells that make for a successful flowering season. Summer brings sunny, warm days that rarely exceed 90 degrees causing maximum leaf photosynthesis that builds sugars and flavors in the fruit. Cool nights let the trees rest so they store the day’s production of sugars.
Begin a tour at the San Luis Bay Road exit off the 101 Freeway and turn up See Canyon Road. One mile in brings you to Kelsey See Winery. Owners of the winery support the Morro Bay Maritime Museum always offering their special wines at fundraising events. At a Kelsey Cares event at the winery, they donate 15% of wine sales to the Maritime Museum.
As you turn into the parking area, you may be greeted by some of the 72 peacocks that roam the property ducking in and out of the old vines of pinot noir grapes. There are picnic tables and a bubbling fountain. Go into the tasting room and be sure to try this family winery’s distinctive apple wines, hard cider Zinfandel and Cabs.
The micro-climate in the canyon has made it a good area for the production of apples and you will encounter several orchards as you drive up the hill. See Canyon Orchard is one of the oldest. You can ask the staff to point out the grandfather tree in the orchard that is well over 100 years old and still producing apples. The See family settled here in 1850 and Joseph See planted
the apple orchard.
Over the years, family-owned orchards have prevailed. Daisy Dell, Creekside, SLO Creek Farms, See Canyon Ranch and Gopher Glen are a few where freshly picked apples and homemade cider are for sale. At Gopher Glen, you’ll find the sales staff busy serving customers and packaging the selections of some of the 40-45 varieties of apples grown at this orchard. Empire, Mutsu, Gala, Jonathan, Delicious, and Pippin are just some of the types grown here. Cider, nuts, honey and other fruits are sold at some of the stands. Owners of Gopher Glen also run Avila Valley Barn farmstand.
We know that apples in some form have been around for a long time. The wild apple of ancient times would never have made it to the modern table. Those trees produced hundreds of tiny sour fruits that were packed with small, dark brown seeds. Some historians dispute over exactly who first cultivated the wild apple, but it is believed that it was the Romans.
Apple cultivation spread all over Europe and the Colonists brought seeds with them to the New World. The legend of Johnny Appleseed states that he loved apples so much he traveled the country barefoot carrying apple seeds in his overall pockets. He tossed the seeds randomly to create a country filled with apples.
Johnny Appleseed was a real person named John Chapman of Massachusetts, born in 1774. He did love apples and started many apple nurseries from the Allegheny River in the East to Ohio. It was this that earned him the nickname Johnny Appleseed.
So, what is it that makes the apple a really tasty fruit – a blend of tartness, sweetness, bitterness, and aroma. There are at least 7,500 different varieties in the world that vary in shape, color, texture, firmness, crispness juiciness, sweetness, and nutritional value.
Remember the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Ancient people recognized that the fruit was good for them. The high fiber content offers bulk and aids the digestive process. They contain antioxidants that improve the immune system and prevent heart disease and some cancers. Green apples are a liver and gallbladder cleanser helping to soften gallstones. Physicians are finding that the pectin in apples reduces cholesterol as well as blood sugar. Raw apples give your gums a healthy massage and clean the teeth.