A little white sign lets you know you’ve reached Pennington Farms as do gigantic wood planks announcing berries for sale. Your drive to get to this farm, sort of near Grant’s Pass, Oregon, winds through the Applegate Valley, a bit of heaven lined with hills and meadows and vineyards. Californians (and those who’ve enjoyed some other agricultural fruits of Oregon’s back woods) might wonder if you’ve inadvertently dropped into Mendocino’s wine country. Because much like Mendocino’s famous Apple Farm, you’ve come upon one of those beautifully rustic spots that signal shabby chic rustic beauty as if you’d fallen into a Pottery-Barn-meets-Martha-Stewart type of catalog.
Yet what Sam and Cathy Pennington have created is not your typical farm store. No trite decor. Yes to cool items like plum- and cherry-wood jam spreaders. Sam’s Hawaiian upbringing and love of surfing blend shabby chic with joie de Gidget, including a local artist’s paintings of surfers framed in bamboo (kitchy chic). The barn has not one but two skateboard ramps for the kids and their friends. I can just imagine late night loud music, beer, skateboarding, surrounded by blueberries and raspberries. Makes me want to be a teenage boy again, or for the first time.
The couple met in college and made their way to this Oregon spot, planting 90 or so acres over the years. It’s a great place to load up on farmstead jam as gifts as well as cookies and fruit-filled pastries all year long along; (one of the daughters has a stint baking at San Francisco’s cult favorite Tartine Bakery).
They rent a bed and breakfast too…agritourism Oregon style.
We reveled in the beauty and freshly made savory and sweet turnovers for hours, drinking coffee, enjoying the breeze on a sweltering summer day. All morning the kitchen buzzed with ovens and bubbled with summer fruit reducing to flavors like Razzle Dazzle, Kotataberry, and of course Tayberry — all variations on berries raz or black.
Pennington Berry Farm is between Jacksonville and Grants Pass in Southern Oregon, accessible off I5.
I recommend driving through historic Jacksonville through the Applegate Valley’s many budding wineries (a valley where a bevy of rich and famous have bought property). Enjoy and tell ’em Susie sent you!