Feeling Fuzzy

Swanton Berry Farm's seasonal U-pick secret

Strawberry lovers have long taken summer day trips down Highway 1 to pick baskets of the legendary fruit at Swanton Berry Farm. But in late fall and winter, the farm offers a wholly unexpected crop for U-pick junkies: kiwis.

The sweet-tart fruit–native to China, most often associated with New Zealand–has been grown in California for decades. Because of the cool coastal weather, Swanton's kiwis ripen slowly, picking up extra-intense flavor.

At the Swanton farm located just south of Año Nuevo State Park, visitors grab buckets and pull red wagons past strawberry plants that have hunkered down for the winter. The farm's two acres of kiwi plants grow on knotty vines that crawl over tall trellises, creating a canopy of leaves. The picking is easy: The fruit ($1.50 a pound) usually blooms at shoulder height, and the sturdy, fuzzy skin can handle the requisite twisting, plucking and tossing into a bucket.

So bundle up and make a winter day of it. Watch wind- and kite surfers at nearby Waddell Beach, stop in at Duarte's Tavern for some artichoke soup, then load up on kiwis. Safe in your fridge, they'll keep for months–so you can enjoy the bright fruits of your labor well into the New Year.

10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, November 27, and every Saturday and Sunday through December or until the kiwis run out, Swanton/Coastways Ranch, 640 Cabrillo Hwy., Pescadero; 831-469-8804 or swantonberryfarm.com