The Philo Apple Farm is an actively productive farm, a B&B, and a twist. Or should I say, ‘Farm, Stay, & Cook”?
Sally and Don Schmitt were the original owners of the French Laundry in Yountville. They transformed what was once variously a bar, laundry, brothel, then run-down rooming house into a destination restaurant with a prix fixe menu. It opened in 1978, Don was the maitre d’ and Sally was the cook, serving up five French-comfort-style courses that topped out at $46 per person.
In 1994, after a number of restaurateurs eyed the property with interest, the couple decided to take the chance to sell it to a young chef named Thomas Keller. Together they built a world renown restaurant. They decided to sell the French Laundry and went on to refurbish yet another run-down property — a 30-acre swath in Philo in Mendocino County near the Navarro River. They turned what was once a decrepit sharecroppers farm into a thriving biodynamic farm specializing in heirloom apples.
The family now have over 25 years of homesteading behind them. They welcome you to come and take advantage of what they’ve learned. The Apple Farm is family run and aside from being a spectacular apple orchard, they host weekday and weekend cooking classes and farm stays. Well, not exactly, they don’t call what they offer cooking classes since there is no formal curriculum. They don’t call them demonstrations since guests take part in the cooking rather than just observing. For experiences where guests stay overnight and join in the preparation and enjoyment of meals, or the term “Stay & Cook”. It might be a weekend or a midweek dinner. Either way, you will get a taste of cooking and staying on a working farm and will come away with recipes, new ideas, and inspiration.
Meet the family
Karen leads the way in the kitchen with help from her daughter Polly being her assistant, and both have many years of a practical garden and landscaping skills to share as well. Tim is a wealth of knowledge about apple varieties and orchard management on both a large and small scale. He loves to talk about his passion. Rita has taken the vegetable garden to new heights and keeps us well stocked in produce. Sophia adds animal husbandry to the mix and often provides meat for our meals.
Our cottages sit in a group among the apple trees, forming a little village of sorts. Each has a porch to sit on, a wonderful big bathroom and a comfy queen sized bed. Our original guest room, the “Room with a View” continues to be a favorite, probably because of the view and all the open windows.
The guest room and three cottages—Red Door, Green Door, and Blue Door—are all handsome, spacious and comfortable. All rooms have gas fireplaces for warmth and ceiling fans to keep them cool in the summer.
Whether you are a novice cook or a serious practitioner, gathering in the kitchen with like-minded folks is always a treat. Over the course of our weekend, they include many different ingredients, techniques, and flavors, and there is plenty of time to answer questions and delve into our subjects. The farm is more and more productive and menus are inspired by the best of what we produce. We send you home stimulated and inspired by a rejuvenated sense of what it means to live the good life.
The weekend includes 3 hands-on meals and a minimum of two nights stay in our cottages or room with a view. Guests help prepare and enjoy Saturday Lunch and Dinner and Sunday Brunch. We start out both mornings with delicious coffee, biscuits, toast and jam and our apple juice.
The cost of our weekend cooking experience is $375 per person + a minimum two-night stay in one of our rooms. The experience includes three hands-on meals, recipes, instruction, and of course, plenty of good local wine. The total for a couple should come to $1,416 with tax.
Every few weeks we hold a midweek hands-on dinner. Up to eight people participate, and the cooking starts at 4 pm. A wonderful way to take a break in the middle of our busy lives to take pleasure in good food and good company. We have a minimum 6 person requirement for all Wednesday dinners to be a go. To guarantee that your preferred Wednesday does not get canceled, bring your own group of 6 friends!
The Midweek cost is $125 per person plus a minimum of one night in one of our rooms. It includes hands-on instruction, recipes, and wine. The total for a couple should come to $585 with tax.
Contact Karen for reservation questions, special events, and general questions. Karen@philoapplefarm.com