Fall, while not my favorite season, (fall does end in winter – you all know that, right?) does have some merits. Halloween, Thanksgiving, my birthday, and apples. Yummy, delicious apples. And where better to get crispy, fresh apples, but right from the source? So on a recent trip to Charlottesville, we headed to Carter Mountain Orchard to see what we could get.
High atop a mountain overlooking Charlottesville, Carter Mountain Orchard is apple heaven. As of today, you can expect to pick Stayman and Granny Smith, which began on October 4th and fresh Fuji, Braeburn, York, and Winesap which begin this weekend. When we went, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Jonagold were in season.
You check in with the super-friendly folks at the counter to see where all the apples are, and head out on your own with your bags. Don’t forget to pick up one of the apple grabber pole thingies. (Not their official name, but you know what I’m talking about.) And make sure you wear closed-toed shoes. I, dumbly, wore Rainbow flip flops and regretted it. Plus, you can be in for quite a hike if you want to find the less picked-over parts of the orchard. This is a steep mountain, people. We picked our share, and filled about a bag. Don’t get greedy, or else you’ll be eating apples for two weeks straight. For recipe suggestions, Eating Well has some good ones, as does Kayln of my favorite food blog, Kayln’s Kitchen.
After getting enough apples to feed a small village, we went to relax on the porch behind the barn. The porch overlooks all of Charlottesville and the mountains beyond. It is best enjoyed by grabbing the all-important cider slushie and cider doughnuts and taking them out to the tables to relax. DO NOT MISS THE CIDER DOUGHNUTS. I repeat, DO NOT MISS THE DOUGHNUTS! They are divine. They are *so* good. Mmm… I’m drooling thinking about them. Fresh, sweet and cakey, these doughnuts were probably my favorite part.
I highly recommend Carter Mountain Orchard. Great for kids, families, and those of us “young professionals” alike, there’s tons to do. Aside from the picking, there’s a hayride, an overlook vantage point for picture opportunities and a great apple-centric gift shop. Such a lovely escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, apple picking is the perfect fall activity.
If Charlottesville is too far for you (wimp!), there are plenty of other orchards closer. (Charlottesville is not that far and wineries are on the way, too!) For a listing of apple orchards in Virginia, head on over to Virginia.org and for Maryland, click on over to All About Apples for the MD listings.
Photos courtesy of Flickr user Needlessspaces.