It’s hard to believe the first day of autumn is Sept. 23. Along with cooler temperatures and the new outdoor palette of vivid oranges, rich browns and warm golden yellows, thoughts turn to college football, hearty soups, "where did we store the rake?” and the annual family pilgrimage to the local apple orchard.
If a day at the orchard is not a family tradition in your home, this year may be the perfect time to make it one. A day of apple picking, cider sipping and idyllic picture posing is a great way to welcome in the new season. =
Fuji are the best apples if you’ve got limited refrigerator space because you can store Fujis in your basement or your garage. They are slow to ripen so are best picked mid to late October. On the other end of the apple spectrum are the GALA apples. Great for pies, sauces, eating and baking, they will only last a few weeks and need to be refrigerated. Because they ripen so early, they are at their prime from mid August to early September.
If you’re looking for good September apple picking, your best bets are: Macintosh, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Jonalicious, Cortland and Red Delicious. Want to make a superb apple pie? Go for the hard York apples because they’ll keep their shape in pies.
Stribling Orchard, Markham, VA
Stribling Orchard is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from late July through early November. Because the apples ripen at different times, they do have gaps early in the season, so be sure to call ahead to confirm their operating hours. Normally, apples are ready for picking from mid-August through early November. Beginning in September, they offer fresh cider and pumpkins should be ripe on the vine, too! You are welcome to bring a picnic, visit their farm animals, see their historic buildings and pick some of Virginia’s finest fruit while taking in breath-taking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Hartland Orchard, Markham, VA
3064 Hartland Lane
Markham, VA 22643
Hartland Orchards is an old family working farm and orchard that is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. Apple picking just opened as of September 4th, but apple picking isn’t all there is at this scenic farm. Taste their famous caramel apples (two thumbs up from the Girl Scouts!) and this Saturday, Sep. 17 is the start of their Weekend Fall Festivals where you can enjoy hayrides, pumpkin picking, games, a corn maze and more! Active duty military, police, and fire and rescue are admitted free with ID. Immediate family receives $1.00 off regular admission. Department of Defense employees with ID and their immediate family receive $1.00 off admission.
Hollins Farms, Delaplane, VA
1408 Snowden Road
Delaplane, VA 20144
Hollin Farms is a four-generation family farm next to Sky Meadows State Park in Fauquier County and is open beginning the last week of September through the month of October. There is no admission fee and dogs on a leash are welcome to enjoy a day in the country, too! Pick your own pumpkins and apples, dig your own peanuts and get your fall greens all in one stop! They also have a corn maze, fabulous gourds and spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hollins Farms invites you to “come out to the farm for some wholesome family fun!”
Mackintosh Fruit Farm, Berryville, VA
Phone: (540) 955-2161
608 Russell Road
Berryville, VA 22611
Mackintosh (with a "K") Fruit Farm is a family owned farm nestled in the beautiful Northern Shenandoah Valley in Clarke County, Va. Everything they grow is a hand-selected variety for authentic, old-fashioned, natural flavor. Almost all of their fruits and vegetables are available as pick-your-own. After you’ve tuckered yourself out picking your own delicious fruits and vegetables, enjoy a lunch, snack or dessert on the patio. For you early risers, enjoy Sunday breakfast from 9 a.m. to noon with a full spread of eggs, pancakes, bacon, fresh fruit and yogurt for $15.00 per person.
Crooked Run Orchard, Purvellville, VA
Phone: (540) 338-6642. This is an automated line that will have the latest picking information.
They are open Thursday, Sept. 15 to Sunday, Sept. 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Apples are $1 per pound and pears run $1.50 per pound. Apple varieties include: Golden Delicious, Mutsu, and a limited amount of Jonagold. Containers are provided. No dogs please.
Patch recommends you call the orchard before heading out on your picking pilgrimage to be sure the apples you’re hoping to enjoy are ready for the picking.