In 1999, Joanne and Dan were running a flower nursery, Flatland Flower Farms, out of several backyards in Berkeley. They decided to buy a house in Sepastopol, in western Sonoma County, that happened to have an apple orchard on the property. The rest, as they say, is history!
Check out our interview with Joanne, she tells us how they accidentally became vinegar makers and shares some of her favorite places near Sebastopol.
How did you get started? What were your first steps and how did it evolve from there?
Apple cider vinegar was our first product and it's kind of a funny story. We have a separate business, Flatland Flower Farm, which sells wholesale veggie starts. I made our first barrel of ACV in the fall, and 6 months later we tried the vinegar and it was awful. That was right around crunch time for our other business, so it never got thrown out. Fast-forward to fall, and We went to clean out the barrel so we could try again. Dan decided to try the vinegar before we threw it out and it was delicious! Turns out the first time it was just half-done, and all it needed was time. Making vinegar is an exercise in patience--that part's difficult for me.
How did you come up with your name?
Our apples are dry-farmed (no irrigation besides what mother nature provides us with!) so they are little, hence the name.
Tell us about your workspace!
We have our own commercial kitchen on the farm so that's my workspace! I love to create here after hours.
Editor's Note: we grabbed this cool video of a bottling machine from Little Apple's instagram!
Do you have a favorite review or comment about your products?
Hard to pick, but this is my fav!
This is the Hallelujah Treat
Ok, my middle school daughter and I randomly purchased freestanding treats at the counter of Market Hall in Berkeley circa 2015 and were floored. We were able to repurchase one more time and then never could find them again :/ We looked everywhere and tried so many caramels in our vain search. It was an epic journey and we were so sad for so long. Then in 2022 when my daughter is a junior in college we rediscovered these amazingly delicious treats!!!!It’s was full on Remembrance of Things Past- we were transported. It was EPIC. We will never stop loving these insanely delicious apple caramels and can’t wait to try them all. Big, joyful score!!
What’s your favorite product you sell?
The plain apple cider vinegar--I use it for drinks, salads, cooking, and washing my hair!
Are there any great local artisans or small businesses that you’re into right now?
We love the local olive oil from Gold Ridge Organics
, you can also see them pressing oil during the season which is so fun to see! We also love Gina and her crew over at Storia Home
, it's so well curated that we want to buy everything.
Do you have a favorite local restaurant?
Miracle Plum Kitchen
is a total hidden gem. Sallie and her crew do a wonderful job, and they have a shop just down the block where you can pick up groceries and wine by some of our favorite local producers.
You live and work in Sebastopol: do you have any favorite place to enjoy the beauty of your area?
Honestly, I'm lucky enough that we can walk right our door and have beautiful hikes. My favorite is to cross the street and hike the Madeleine Sone preserve
, it's one of our newest county parks and is very uncrowded.
What's your favorite thing about California?
The beach! Bodega Bay
is a 20 min drive, listening to the waves and watching the sunset is so calming. My other favorite is Drake's Bay between Jan-March when the Elephant Seals are there to pup. They are so fun to watch, and the rangers have a great IG with lots of info. @pointreyesnps
Thank you so much Joanne for sharing your story with us!
You can shop all of Little Apple Treats products on their website
, and we offer a variety of their beautiful products on our site seasonally via Build A Box
If you enjoyed this blog, check out some of the other artisan profiles we've done in the past: