Napa Valley Tastings of the Other Crop: Wild Plums

Dry, with spicy intensity. (no)

It is not true that goats will eat anything! In fact, they have quite discriminating palates when it comes to wild plums. Remember those plum blossoms of last February―flowery memories of prohibition in the Napa Valley, when plum orchards replaced vines? The marauding birds, coyotes, and deer seeded these mountain sides, and now, although plums are feral, they have many complex, exquisite flavors.

Fruit must be perfectly ripe.
Petunia and Dasher partaking of a
(plum) tree of life.

The very old tree’s plums by the goat pen with its fat, golden fruit (full bodied and buttery), ripens first. They are the best plums I have ever tasted! Of course, the goats love these as well, rushing to clean up anything that has fallen, and deer are often seen gorging on the windfall. This was our old goat Boris’s favorite tree, the place he loved to sleep in his old age.

Some plums are red and tiny, mostly pit, but sweet with cherry overtones ―the goats eat these, but only if entirely ripe. Some plums are large, red, with a spicy intensity, dry. When offered these, the goats spit them out. (Like the professional wine tasters, perhaps?)

But then, maybe the plums preform a whole other function on this mountain besides providing sensual pleasures. Like place-names, they remind us of small tastes of history so easily forgotten when time rushes on.