Apple press can be used for free

Apple lovers can press their own fresh juice during harvest season through a free, new program sponsored by Slow Foods Russian River.

The group at noon Saturday will celebrate the opening of its Community Apple Press at the Luther Burbank Experiment Farm, 7777 Bodega Ave. in Sebastopol.

The free press is available there by reservations during harvest from Thursday through Sunday. To reserve a time, call 824-2899.

Backyard apples are welcome, but the group hopes that city folks also will buy local apples and make their own juice.

“I believe this will be a great shot in the arm for the apple growers in Sonoma County,” said Slow Foods volunteer Bob Burke.

The program was made possible by a $4,500 grant from the city of Sebastopol.

Record prices at livestock auction

Buyers again broke records this year at the Sonoma County Fair’s Junior Livestock Auction, paying $1.28 million for animals raised by 4-H and FFA youth.

The total, which was nearly 9 percent higher than the previous year, included more than $550,000 paid for 329 hogs; nearly $338,000 for 264 lambs; over $318,000 for 56 steers; and $34,000 for 42 goats.

As well, buyers paid $23,000 for meat poultry and nearly $15,000 for meat rabbits.

New this year was an Ag Mechanics Auction that featured hand-crafted items made by FFA members and other youth. Buyers paid a total of more than $14,000 for those items.

The livestock auction first topped $1 million in 2007, and sales have risen each year since.

Dutton Ranch celebrates founders

Graton’s Dutton Ranch on Friday celebrated the 50th anniversary of founders Warren and Gail Dutton buying their first 35-acre ranch of apples and wine grapes.

The Dutton family invited nearly 500 guests for a dinner and celebration at the ranch off Graton Road. The land, which was purchased in 1964, today is home to the company’s offices.

Warren Dutton died in 2001, but the ranch is still owned by Gail Dutton and sons Steve and Joe Dutton.

“It’s great that it’s moved into the second generation, and it’s our hope that we’ll be able to transition into the third generation and beyond,” said Steve Dutton.

The Duttons now farm 1,200 acres of wine grapes predominantly in the Russian River appellation and 200 acres of organic apples.

The family traces its farming roots in the county back to the late 19th century.

Compiled by Robert Digitale. Submit items to