This year’s Apple Blossom Festival and Parade takes place on Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23. Visit appleblossomfest.com for details.

Before west county's sun dappled hills were covered with grape vines, apples ruled the slopes.

It was in the late 1800s when famed horticulturist Luther Burbank recommended that Nathaniel Griffith cultivate Gravensteins apples for commercial use. Since then, apples have been a major agricultural crop in Sonoma County. Apple orchards, dryers and packaging facilities employed men and women of different races and ethnicities. Railroads whisked thousands of cars of crisp apples down to the Bay area and places elsewhere.

Sebastopol has been celebrating its apple heritage since 1910 with harvest festivals that cap the end of the agricultural season. In 1946, Sebastopol celebrated its first Apple Blossom Festival to welcome in the beginning of spring and a new crop. This year marks the extravaganza’s 71st anniversary.

Click through our gallery on the early days of the Sonoma County apple industry.

Sonoma magazine remembers 10 beloved Wine Country restaurants, landmarks and wineries destroyed by the fires here