Romance of the season: North Yuba Grown invites foodies to a picnic in a cherry orchard |

Romance of the season: North Yuba Grown invites foodies to a picnic in a cherry orchard

Renaissance cherries, shown here a week before full ripeness, will be the featured food during the first dining experience of a Farm to Fork series in Oregon House. Cherry Orchard Picnic will be held Sunday, June 5 at Renaissance Winery. Learn more at
Submitted photo |

in an orchard of 200 cherry trees, agricultural supporters from Yuba County are inviting their neighbors to get away for a romantic start of summer to taste the delicate flavors of the region.

“These trees that we’re going to have lunch under are 40 years old. It’s a great summer experience to be sitting under the trees. We may see some couples slipping off,” said Steven Dambeck of the Oregon House-based café, Yuba Harvest.

Dambeck, also a lead organizer of North Yuba Grown is teaming up with Grass Valley’s Bear Yuba Land Trust to offer a summer “Farm to Fork” local food series beginning with a “Cherry Orchard Picnic” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 5 at Renaissance Vineyard.

“We are one of the rare places in the world where we produce high quality agriculture 12 months of the year,” said Dambeck.

The Cherry Orchard Picnic will begin with yellow Rainier and red Bing cherries served alongside bread from Artisan Lavina and Oregon House-made cheeses. Artisan Lavina is a small artisanal bakery known for using heirloom grains and seeds milled the day of bread making.

A plate of locally raised pork served with cherry sauce will follow along with a salad of vegetables from a nearby garden and locally grown olives. The French baked dessert, cherry clafouti will round out the afternoon. Participants can choose to complement all courses with an appropriate Renaissance wine — including classic dessert wines — at a no host bar.

The cherry orchard is located on the property of Renaissance, founded in 1978. At elevations from 1,700 to 2,300 feet, the winemaker handcrafts limited production of Bordeaux and Rhone families of varietals organically cultivated and bottled at the estate in a traditional European style. Picnickers will receive a pint basket to wander and pick a few cherries from the orchard or purchase bulk cherries to take home.

The Farm to Fork series will continue with a lavender experience in July and a chardonnay event in August. Unlike Farm to Fork dinners of the past where diners got to know their farmer, the idea behind this summer’s events is to get to know the featured crop. By offering a luncheon, rather than a full course dinner, the event is meant to be affordable and accessible to folks.

“We’re kind of taking deep gulps of a product,” Dambeck said.

The geography and climate of the North Yuba foothills is considered ideal for growing grapes, olives, and fruits like peaches, nectarines, mandarins and apples. Since the 19th century, wine grapes and olive trees have grown in the region. Some olive trees in the area are more than 100 years old and still producing high quality oils.

North Yuba Grown started in 2012 as an agritourism marketing vehicle to support and promote local farms and ranches. A series of Farm to Fork dining experiences were soon launched, farmers markets began flourishing and school meal programs began including more locally grown ingredients. The idea behind supporting a local-based food economy is to ensure more foothill farmers are viable.

Steve Dambeck makes a point to showcase the region’s seasonal offerings on the menu at his restaurant, Yuba Harvest Café. He works with 15 farms and gardeners to procure food like citrus in winter and fava beans in spring. The café is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch every day but Monday. A full brunch menu is available Saturday and Sunday. A guest chef is featured each week bringing international dinners to the table.

“Every month has a rich choice of ingredients to choose from. We want people to experience that,” said Dambeck.

The cost of the picnic is $35 for Bear Yuba Land Trust Members and $40 for Not-Yet-Members. Reservations and pre-payment is required by May 31. Register and pay online at:

Laura Petersen is the Outreach Coordinator for Bear Yuba Land Trust. Contact her at or 530-272-5994 x 211.

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