Friday afternoon I returned to Sonoma County from Napa taking the Carneros Highway to hook up with 116 and head north on Petaluma Hill Road to the Crane Melon Barn south of Santa Rosa. Along the way I passed by Grossi Farms where I bought my melons two years ago, but the stand here only had fall pumpkins for sale.
The Crane Melon Barn's open for business now with posted hours of 10-6. After last week's experience at Valley End Farm, I was expecting an even headier aroma in this enclosed space. But these melons didn't throw off as much scent as Valley End's either in the barn or transporting them in my car. They're one cent less per pound here, and my five for the picnic weighed in at just under 30 pounds for $29.21.
Despite my concerns about the fainter aroma, the proof is in the tasting, and these were just fine on the appetizer table. I had asked the woman at the barn to pick out very ripe examples for immediate eating. And, I didn't refrigerate them, but kept them in the car overnight. The texture of these seemed a bit softer than the Valley End Farms melons. They were less perfumey, but about the same level of sweetness and complexity of flavor.
I also learned from one of the other customers there that the Crane melons in the grocery stores in June and early summer come from Texas, and don't come close in flavor. So, go now in early fall and buy a locally grown Crane melon for the peak of ripeness.
Images of the Crane Melon Barn
Valley End Farm posting