Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Oct 22, 2005 06:06 PM

Swanton Pacific Ranch: apple picking and natural beef?

  • c

First off, don't confuse this place w/ Swanton Berry Farm. It's totally different. From the website linked below along w/ photo from the website, it's owned by Cal Poly SLO and functions as a field lab for their Ag students. Pretty cool.

I called them to get more info about a local ad I saw for apple picking. The ad said that they have NINE varieties of ORGANIC apples for picking. "Dwarf" trees are there for the little ones to join in. Sounds like another fun field trip for my niece and nephews w/ caramel apples to follow...

I was shocked when someone actually answered their phone (831.427.1718). Nice lady. Apples that she identified they have: royal gala, jonagold, red fuji, yellow newton, granny smith, red delicious. That's only six, so there are a few more, some she said that they hadn't really identified. I was hoping for more uncommon ones that I've heard about but never had a chance to try (eg, arkansas blacks, northern spies, pink ladies), but those unknowns are alluring. Note: she said that the fujis have "scabs" or blemishes due to late rains but are tasty while the red delicious crop was the least tasty this year.

Cost is $1/lb. and they also have bags that can be filled for $7 and boxes for $30 (which I'm assuming are better deals). Not a great deal since apples at the farmer's markets are selling for about $1.25/lb. right now, but upick is more about the experience than getting a huge bargain for me.

Formal upick hours are Th-Sun from 10-3, although she said that they are usually ready to go by 8am and don't really close up til dusk. Unfortunately, they aren't selling any prepared goodies like apple butter, cider, or pie.

How to get there: From north or south on Hwy 1, turn inland onto Swanton Rd. From the south entrance (Santa Cruz side), it will be about 4.8 miles to the ranch. This will be going on for the next couple of months.

Questions: Has anyone picked apples here before? Are there other good places to pick apples in SC County that may have interesting varieties? Website says they sell both grass and grain fed beef; anyone buy from them before?



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I was in the area yesterday, saw a brochure and went to check it out. It's a little hard to find because the signage at the entrance is minimal, but the trees are easy to spot, and it's the only apple orchard on that road.

    Prices have gone up to $1.25 a pound, and they have several sizes of bags that hold approximated amounts. The hours now are 9-5 Thursday-Sunday, but there wasn't anyone there -- just a sign saying "honor system." They had some pre-picked pre-priced bags if you didn't want to take the time to pick yourself. They have 16 varieties, but the only one ready to pick today was Ginger Gold. I bought a $5 bag and they're crisp and delicious.

    The dwarf trees would be easy to pick from -- I'd suggest going more towards the peak of apple season (mid-Sept-mid-Oct).

    Swanton Pacific Ranch Cal Poly
    480 Swanton Rd, Davenport, CA

    5 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Thanks for your report, Ruth! Wow, my initial post is nearly 3 yrs. old. A 25 cent per lb. increase is not bad at all...

      I'm still in summer fruit mode but always love the shift into cool fall and the abundance of apples. I'm not sure if I've tasted ginger gold before; is it similar to golden delicious?

      Did you go to Swanton berry farm or any other chowish stops?

      1. re: Carb Lover

        Yeah, I did a search and this was the only mention that popped up -- it's pretty far off the beaten track! I didn't get to Swanton this trip -- I've been there before and honestly I wasn't that impressed. I guess I got Seascapes, which always taste like dirt to me.

        The Ginger Golds are a like Golden Delicious only in that they have a very thin yellow skin. Fresh off the tree they were nicely crisp and had a sweet-spicy flavor. I hope since your post you've tried some of those other varieties. There's a grower not too far from you -- Hillview Farms in Watsonville -- who grows an amazing assortment of apples, although IIRC they aren't organic. There's also an heirloom apple farm in Scotts Valley.

        The Swanton Pacific Ranch seems like quite an operation. They have farms all along that road.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Thanks for the info. Do you know how I can sample apples from Hillview? Are they open to the public or do they sell at a local farmers market? I wasn't successful finding this info on google.

          I found a listing on Local Harvest for the heirloom apple farm in Scotts Valley.

          It says that they only sell at the Redwood City farmers market but it was last updated in 2003.

          1. re: Carb Lover

            I've bought from Hillview at the Oakland (Jack London Square) farmers market. I know he sells at a couple of other markets, but don't remember which ones. If I see him at JLS again I'll ask him.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I stopped by the Hillview stand at JLS today -- he had a couple of dozen varieties of apples, and will have more as the season progresses. They also sell at markets in Valco in San Jose/Cupertino and Danville.


    2. Does anyone know how late their apple picking season goes? I wanted to head down this weekend, but didn't want to drive all that way for nothing.


      1 Reply
      1. re: sfhoagie

        I have no idea, but I would call them directly to find out if you want to be certain. Please report back if you do go!

        Contact info: