The Applegate Valley is a bit of a Southern Oregon secret. Full of rolling forested mountains and family farms, it is tucked away just west of the I-5 corridor between Medford and Grants Pass. It’s . Most of the area’s farms produce wine or dairy products. For something to eat, the best one to stop at is Pennington’s, where excellent baked goods await. The family moved from Colorado to the Applegate in 1994 to farm berries. They bake a mean pie.
The selling point for Pennington Farms is that pies are made from Pennington fruits. (The fruit also yields delicious jams.) Remote as it is, the Applegate sells most of what it makes at various Southern Oregon farmers markets. But going to the farm is a special treat. In an old barn off a country road, its of baked goods is jaw-dropping. They’re so appealing that it is a challenge not to buy too much.
Berry pie is the obvious thing to get, and it is fantastic, with sweet-tart fruit and a flaky bronzed crust. But pear pie is even more memorable. Southern Oregon is famous for pears (thanks to Harry and David holiday baskets), and this pie radiates juicy pear flavor. It tastes like poached pears in buttery pastry.
Savory pies are also worth a taste. They are hand pies with flaky butter crust, perfect for road snacking. The chile relleno turnover has a real salty, spicy Southwestern flavor. The spinach, mushroom & Swiss is a good vegetarian choice with a nice balance of nutty and earthy flavors. We left regretting that we didn’t buy more of these hand-held lunches.
If you’re full or hurried at least, stop here for some cookies or jams. The chocolate chip one we grabbed was so good that it almost set us back on a u-turn to ask for a recipe, or at least some baking tips.