Family History of Kozlowski Farms
Our family has always believed: If you have a passion for something; go for it. That’s what Carmen and Tony Kozlowski did when they bought their first Sonoma County apple farm in 1949, and again two years later, when they bought the adjacent property that would become Kozlowski Farms.
They decided to plant their picturesque Russian River Valley farm to juicy Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Red Rome apples. Knowing it would take seven years for the young trees to bear fruit, Carmen and Tony had the revolutionary idea of planting raspberries between the trees. They were also successful in cultivating blackberries, blueberries and cherries.
With so many beautiful berries for inspiration, Carmen was soon pursuing another of her passions: Baking and canning. At first, she made her jams and pastries just for family and Kozlowski farmhands. Then she started selling them at the entrance to the farm, and word of Carmen’s irresistible wine country cooking spread.
One of Carmen’s most popular creations was her no-sugar-added raspberry spread—a genuine novelty in the early 1970s, and like everything else that she made, all natural. Her secret was sweetening the spread with a combination of apple juice and dried apples that came from the family’s orchard. Quality ingredients and traditional farm fresh cooking defined Carmen’s specialties, which is why today, her recipes are still the backbone of the family business.
The Second Generation
Carmen and Tony’s three children: Carol, Perry and Cindy, shared their parents’ love of Sonoma County farming, along with their roll-up-your-sleeves, old-fashioned work ethic.
It was a good thing too, because this is how Kozlowski Farms launched its specialty food and retail business: In 1969, with the first crop of raspberries ripening on the vine, Tony got up one morning, gave his daughter Cindy a refrigerator and told her she’d be running the retail side of the business. She was 13 years old. He told Carol, then 19, to run the raspberry picking crew, and then turned to his 16-year-old son and said: “Perry you’re driving the truck.”
Trial by fire never tasted so good.
Going For Organic
Living and working together on the family farm, the second generation naturally began to think about the importance of agricultural preservation. In the early 1980s, Kozlowski Farms transitioned to organic agriculture and became one of the first California Certified Organic Farmers (C.C.O.F) in Sonoma County.
A Sonoma County Classic Continues
After the death of their father in 1982, Carol, Perry and Cindy were determined to see the family business flourish. They were off to a great start. Kozlowski homemade specialties were a hit, and the kitchen was always cooking. One busy day, Perry came into the kitchen to help out, and he never left. An accomplished home chef and grilling guru, Perry took over the no-sugar-added fruit spread and fruit butter making and began lending his culinary expertise to the creation of barbecue and grilling sauces.
Meanwhile, Carol, who had also inherited her mother’s love of cooking, began bottling her homemade salad dressings as a complement to the family’s wildly successful Red Raspberry Vinegar. They soon introduced flavorful fat-free dressings and a line of specialty canola oil-based dressings to the market.
In 1999, Kozlowski Farms—located in the famed Russian River Valley—planted its first Pinot Noir grapes. And once again, the family joined together to make an outstanding agricultural product. Mammy Carmen’s eldest granddaughter, Tracy, and her husband Joe Dutton began crafting the family’s boutique-production Pinot Noir at their Dutton Estate Winery near Sebastopol.
At various times, each of Mammy Carmen’s grandchildren have worked part time on the farm, and two of them—Kyle Hayworth and Janae Kozlowski—currently work at the family business full time. Today, Kozlowski Farms is proud to be a third generation-strong family business in the heart of Sonoma County.
A Sense of Place
Located five miles north of Sebastopol near the town of Forestville, the Kozlowski Farm itself is steeped in California history. We’re part of the old El Molino Rancho, a large ranch belonging to the last Mexican Governor of California, General Mariano Vallejo, before he granted it to his brother-in-law, Captain John Bautista Rogers Cooper, in 1834.
In the 1920s, Carmen’s parents, Florencio and Julia Lorenzo, moved from Spain to Sonoma County, where they farmed apples, berries, cherries and grapes. They instilled a lifelong passion for agriculture in their daughter that continues today. In 1997, Carmen received the Sonoma County Lifetime Achievement in Agriculture Award.
In 1984, Kozlowski Farms made our national television debut on Good Morning America, when Mammy Carmen made raspberry bread with Julia Child. We also appeared on the Food Network’s “Food Finds” in 1999. The segment featured California food producers who craft specialty foods the old fashioned way. Kozlowski Farms was also spotlighted as a premier San Francisco Bay Area destination on the PBS program: “California Heartland” and KRON-TV’s “Bay Area Back Roads.”