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.

North Coast Wine Challenge winners

Best of the Best: Kokomo 2016 Pinot Noir Gopher Hills Block Peters Vineyard Sonoma Coast

Best of Show Red: Kokomo 2016 Pinot Noir Gopher Hills Block Peters Vineyard Sonoma Coast

Best of Sonoma County: Kokomo 2016 Pinot Noir Gopher Hills Block Peters Vineyard Sonoma Coast

Best of Show White: J. Rickards Winery 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Croft Vineyard Alexander Valley

Best of Show Rose: Rodney Strong Vineyards 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Best of Show Sparkling: Domaine Carneros 2013 Brut

Best of Show Dessert Wine: Sonoma Cutrer Vineyards 2015 Late Harvest Chardonnay

Best of Lake County: Cache Creek Vineyards 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County

Best of Marin County: DeLoach Vineyards 2015 Pinot Noir Marin County

Best of Mendocino: Soda Rock 2016 Chardonnay Mendocino

Best of Napa County: Mudita 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Circle S Ranch Atlas Peak Napa

Best of Sonoma County: Kokomo 2016 Pinot Noir Gopher Hill Block Peters Vineyard Sonoma Coast