• Photo: Billy Carmen / Shutterstock


A stroll through downtown Sebastopol, a town formerly known more for Gravenstein apples than for grapes, but these days a burgeoning wine hub, reveals glimpses of the distant and recent past and perhaps the future, too. Before entering the district of browsable, if mostly modest, shops, you may notice a sign declaring Sebastopol a "Nuclear Free Zone." Many hippies settled here in the 1960s and 1970s and, as the old Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song goes, they taught their children well—the town remains steadfastly, if not entirely, countercultural.

Another strain of nostalgia runs even deeper, though, as evidenced by the popularity of the remarkably well-preserved Foster's Freeze stand (banana split, anyone?). Those hankering for a 1960s flashback can truck on over to the Grateful Bagel, complete with Grateful Dead logo.

Sebastopol has always had really good, if somewhat low-profile, wineries, among them Iron Horse, Lynmar Estate, and Merry Edwards. With the opening of a cluster of artisanal food and wine vendors at the Barlow, on the site of a former apple-processing plant, the town may be poised for a Healdsburg-style transformation. Then again, maybe not. Stay tuned.

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