Our top five picks for apple picking in Virginia. You might be surprised by the top spot!
Number 5 –Chile’s Peach Orchard
Don’t let the name fool you – there are plenty of apple varieties ready for picking in the fall. They have a newly-expanded farm market that sells jams, gourmet food, local crafts, gifts and more. For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a cornucopia of treats on-site, including an ice cream parlor, fudge kitchen and a bakery selling seasonal pies and homemade doughnuts.
Available Apples: Lodi, Ginger Gold, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Jonathan, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Fuji, Braeburn, Rome, York, Stayman, Winesap, Crispin, Pink Lady, Albemarle Pippin
Number 4 - Rock Hill Orchard
In addition to apple picking, visitors can indulge in the orchard’s on-site farmer’s market. Stock up on Virginia’s fall harvest bounty, including eggplant, kale, okra and peppers. They proudly sell fresh dairy from their Woodbourne Creamery. They treat their small herd of 60 grass-fed Guernsey Cows like children, and their cows produce a Golden Guernsey milk they’ve become famous for.
Available apples: Ginger Gold, Gala, Early Mac, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Jonathon, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Grimes Golden, Empire , Melrose, Suncrisp, Rome, Stayman, Granny Smith, Goldrush, Pink Lady, Late Fuji
Number 3 – Dickie Brothers Orchard
With over 100 acres of apple groves and over 15 varieties, this orchard has something for everyone. But perhaps the most captivating thing about this destination is the side trip. Less than 10 miles from the orchard is Crabtree Falls, which offers a stunning view of a waterfall with a 1,200 foot drop. The more adventurous can take the 2-mile hike that leads to the falls, but if one is wiped out from a day of apple-picking, there is an overlook just 500 feet from the parking lot.
Available apples: McIntosh, Paula Red, Gala, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Stayman, Rome, Winesap, Fuji, Empire, Granny Smith, Honeycrsip, Pink Lady, Golden Supreme and Jonagold
Number 2 – Carter Mountain Orchard
The drive through the mountains of Charlottesville offers stunning views of fall foliage. It’s impossible not to pull over for photos along the way. There’s a bakery on site selling fresh-baked pies, and their famous apple cider doughnuts. A country store selling beautifully-packaged sundries fills up with visitors who stock up on holiday gifts ahead of time. All that apple-picking can give one a serious appetite, and visitors fill up on comfort food at the Mountain Grill.
Available apples: Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Fuji, Winesap, Syatman, Pink Lady and Granny Smith
Number 1 – Drumheller’s Orchards
There an extensive variety of vintage heirloom apples at Drumheller’s Orchards, and if you arrive on the third week of October, you can also experience their Apple Festival. Here, you can enjoy preservative-free apple cider and apple butter that’s homemade on-site; a secret family recipe that’s been around for generations. There is a 5-acre corn maze, funnel cake stand, pumpkin patch, Virginia-made honey-baked hams, moon bounce and much more.
Available apples: Lodi, Summer Rambo, Granny Smith, Early Avul Fuji, Gala, Jonathan, Grimes Golden, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Mutsu, Stayman, Winesap, Rome, Black Twig, Arkansas Black, Nittany, Albemarle Pippin and Pink Lady
Fayeruz Regan is a writer, bon vivant, blogger and book critic for Real Simple magazine. You can see more of her work at www.fayeruz.com