EARLY AUGUST, WE HEART YOU: Pity the first week of August. It can be the most picked-on and bemoaned time of the year, thanks to temperatures falling on the toastier side and things heating up in general. It's also the stretch when people summon the term "dog days of summer" most often (and that would be correct; the dog days traditionally do encompass the very beginning of the eighth month). But here's what's good about the beginning of the last-blast-o'-heat month: back-to-school sales. Halloween candy popping up in braver grocery stores. And, best of all, the busy, busy days of our farms and wineries and gardens and places that experience both the fruitfulness of summertime and the gathering days of harvest. August is the time that rather straddles the two micro-seasons -- high fruit and early harvest -- and that can make it a very exciting time to visit a place that grows delicious edibles (and makes delicious edibles from the things grown).
THE ANSWER TO ALL OF THIS... is, of course, a bit of ag-tourism. But finding a farm or two, much less a few, to open up their doors can be tricky. That's why a tour or special day is key. The Sierra Oro Farm Trail in Butte County offers several growing-good stops and a few days of the year in which to visit. Sunday, Aug. 4 is the next opportunity to hit the trail, and there's a chance to go it on your own or by chartered bus.
ON THE TOUR: Bertagna Son Kissed Vineyards, Dog Creek Cellars, New Clairvaux, Maisie Jane's California Sunshine Products, and Gale Vineyards are all participating in the charter tour stops at the early August event. Yep, wine is a big part of the ag-tourism outing, so expect to see grapes in addition to the food-oriented destinations.
AND THE PASSPORT WEEKEND: If the dog days of summertime will keep you at home, consider the Passport Weekend on the Sierra Oro Farm Trail. It's a big to-do and it happens in the heart of harvest: Oct. 12 and 13.