A Family Affair
In 1994, after selling their top-rated restaurant, the French Laundry in Yountville (Napa Valley), Don and Sally Schmitt moved to the Anderson Valley near Mendocino to join Karen Schmitt and Tim Bates, their daughter and son-in-law, run a 16-acre farm called The Apple Farm.
The Schmitt's had acquired the property in 1984, but weren't quite ready to leave Yountville at that time so they entrusted Karen and Tim to revitalize the property and to get a viable apple farming operation underway. Over the last 12 years, Tim and Karen have successfully converted a run-down orchard into an apple lover's dream. While the Golden Delicious are the mainstay of The Apple Farm, they concentrated on adding unusual "antique" and heirloom" varieties.
When Don and Sally joined them, The Apple Farm's business was expanded to include a new kitchen where Sally processes jams, jellies and chutney all made from their farm-grown fruit. Sally and Karen also offer cooking classes throughout the year. (Call them to get on the mailing list.)
Today the whole family is involved in some aspect of their multi-faceted operation:
Tim runs the orchards and manages apples sales, including Bates & Schmitt seasonal visits to San Francisco's Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market on Saturdays.
Sally runs the kitchen, overseeing processing of all the jams, jellies and chutney, and gives cooking classes along with help from Karen.
Don oversees the financial end of their businesses and relentlessly keeps up the on-going chore of grooming the property.
Karen maintains the kitchen vegetable garden and the flower garden that she relies on to do her cut flower arrangements for the Boonville Hotel and other special events in the area.
Terry, Don and Sally's other daughter, lives in San Francisco and handles the sales of their jams, jellies, chutneys, juices and ciders at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market on Saturdays.
John, Don and Sally's son, owns the Boonville Hotel in Boonville, where Don occasionally pitches in to help out.
Catch'em When You Can
You'll be able to find Terry at the San Francisco Farmers' Market selling their jams, jellies, chutney, apple juice and ciders every other Saturday of the year, but Tim brings fresh apples only 4- 5 times during the short September - October apple season. If you want a chance to sample some unusual varieties, don't miss one of Tim's rare visits to the SF Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market! But call ahead to The Apple Farm to ask if he plans to be there.
Organically-Grown, Unwaxed Apples
The apples that Tim brings to the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market on the few Saturdays that he's there are only a sampling of the 60 varieties that Bates & Schmitt grows. Here's what you're likely to find on one of his fall visits to the Market (prices range from $1.00 - 1.50 /lb.):
Picking from the varieties available on a Saturday in late September, we conducted our own tasting:
|Yellow Winter Banana||Splendour||Cox Orange
Our Private Tasting
|We Loved It||Kidds Orange Red||Nicely crisp and tart without being "dry"; full-bodied apple flavor with a light lemon overtone|
|Close Second||Cox Orange Pippin||Nice "wine" undertone; flesh is a bit dense and tight, but that doesn't distract from the lovely flavor|
|Very Nice||Ashmed's Kernel||Strong "wine" apple flavor; medium tart; only drawback is its slightly dense texture|
|All Around OK||Swaar||Very crisp and tart; dry taste and texture; not juicy; apple flavor was too soft for our taste|
|Not a Star||Yellow Winter Banana||Mild apple flavor; tastes more like a pear|
|Not Our Taste||Splendour||Very little apple flavor but quite sweet; crisp, with good overall texture; a good winter keeper|
Jam, Apple Juice/Ciders and Chutney
This part of The Apple Farm stand is an inviting display of farm-made jams, jellies, apple juice/ciders and chutney nestled among bundles of apple tree twigs that are also for sale to use on the barbecue. You'll always find a few jars of jam open for tasting. One taste is enough to tempt you to take a jar home. They sell for $9.00 - $10.00 for a 19oz. jar.
Visit The Apple Farm
If you miss Tim and Terry at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, you can find Bates & Schmitt at the Boonville Farmers' Market every Saturday through the end of October or you can drop into The Apple Farm in Anderson Valley anytime for a sampling of the full range of their fruits. Visitors are always welcome at The Farm to walk through the orchards and gardens and to take a peak into the kitchen. If neither fits into your schedule, Bates & Schmitt will gladly fill your order for jams, jellies and chutney by mail:
Saturday Market Home Page
To contact the vendor, please use information at the top of this page.