Apple orchards to visit in WNC during the 2022 harvest season

ASHEVILLE — Apple season is in full swing at WNC, and many orchards invite the public to savor their bountiful offerings.

This season is of particular note as it follows the challenges of the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and a difficult season in 2021 during which apple growers experienced inclement weather that damaged crops. This year, the consensus is that the harvest season is exceeding expectations.

“It’s a big holiday, especially in a year when there’s an abundance of apples,” said Sarah Hart, communications manager for the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. “After some of them have had flooding and freezing and certainly just the lean years with the pandemic where the pick-your-own carnival celebrations have been a little subdued, it makes it feel like a good apple season at all levels. Everyone is growing and producing, and I’ve heard people say it was a stellar year, so even better than “not bad.”

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Gala apples in a bin at Grandad's Apple Orchard in Hendersonville, NC.

Apple picking adventures

For visitors, apple harvest season can look different depending on where and when one chooses to go.

WNC Apple Orchards offer varying experiences and levels of interaction and entertainment.

“There are so many, and they all have a different flavor,” Hart said.

ASAP’s online local food guide helps find orchards and farms in the Appalachian region, which includes WNC and parts of Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. Filters further refine the search for apple orchards.

Grandad's Apples offers freshly picked apples, freshly squeezed apple cider, fresh baked donuts and more.

A printed version of the guide is also available.

Hart recommends checking a farm’s company website, social media page or calling to check on harvest availability, hours of operation and the type of experience being offered before showing up.

Some orchards, like Grandad’s Apples and Jeter Mountain Farms, post daily updates of what’s available or a seasonal harvest calendar.

U-pick farms invite customers to take a hay ride or stroll through the orchards and pick the apples of their choice straight from the trees. Other orchards may do the picking for the customer but offer a wide variety of freshly picked and farm-made apple products.

Ginger Gold Apples

Creasman Farms pick-your-own opening date is September 11th. U-pick will be available at Grandad’s Apples in early October.

There are farms designed with high-energy activities and entertainment for the whole family.

Weekends at Grandad’s Apples are at their liveliest as the orchard offers activities such as an apple cannon, corn maze, and cow train.

Other orchards and vineyards may offer a more laid-back experience for adults to sit back and relax while sipping homemade cider or wine, in addition to the family atmosphere.

Jeter Mountain Farms not only offers 25 varieties of apples, cider, apple cider donuts, retail market, but also a hard cider bar with six flavors on tap and select canned styles for retail.

Stepps Orchard Apples

Appalachian Ridge Artisan Ciders, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyard, and The Orchard at Altapass are a few other places to consider for restaurants, tasting rooms, or live music experiences in addition to stocking up on apples for home.

For more farm and orchard explorations, purchase an ASAP Farm Tour Pass, September 17-18. The cost is $35 per car.

WNC apple orchards and more

  • Craft Ciders from the Appalachian Ridge, 731 Chestnut Gap Road, Hendersonville. saintpaulfarms.com
  • Apple House and Owenby Orchards, 3807 Chimney Rock Road, Hendersonville. owenbysapplehouse.com
  • Coston Farm Apple House, 3748 Chimney Rock Road, Hendersonville. costonfarm.com
  • Creasman Farms, 280 Bent Arrow Lane, Hendersonville. creasmanfarmsnc.com
  • Fruit of the Spirit Orchard and Vineyard, 756 Dalton Trail Dr, Hendersonville. thefruitofthespiritorchard.webs.com
  • Grandpa’s apples, 2951 Chimney Rock Road, Hendersonville. grandadsapples.com
  • Green Heart Farm3200 Little Creek Road, Hot Springs facebook.com/GreenHeartFarmNC/
  • Ancient Apples at Freeman Orchards3016 Chimney Rock Road, Hendersonville.
  • Holt Orchards, 17 Holt Pond Drive, Flat Rock. holtorchards.com
  • Jeter Mountain Farms, 1126 Jeter Mountain Road, Hendersonville. throwmountainfarm.com
  • Justus Orchard, Garren Road, Hendersonville. justusorchard.com
  • KT orchard and apiary158 Pigeon Ford Road, Canton.
  • Animated orchards1115 Upward Road, Flat Rock.
  • fresh mountain orchard2887 Chimney Rock Road, Hendersonville.mtnfreshorchards.com
  • Saint-Paul mountain vineyard, 588 Chestnut Gap Road, Hendersonville. saintpaulfarms.com
  • Sky Top Orchard, 1193 Pinnacle Mountain Road, Flat Rock. skytoporchard.com
  • Stepp Hillcrest Orchard170 Stepp Orchard Dr., Hendersonville, steppapples.com
  • Altapass orchard, 1025 Orchard Rd, Spruce Pine. altapassorchard.org
  • twisted apple, 4039 US-64, Hendersonville. twistedapplefarm.com

Choose the right apple

The abundance of apple varieties can be overwhelming, but often orchards offer samples and advice to help customers with their selection.

Grandad’s Apples offers over 40 different apple varieties per season that are pre-picked but available to mix and match.

Apples from Creasman Farms

All apples can be eaten unprocessed, but Honey Crisps are the top-selling variety at Grandad’s, said Leslie Lancaster, co-owner of Grandad’s Apples.

“It’s the premium eating apple. It’s good, crunchy and juicy,” she said.

For applesauce, Lancaster recommends Shuzuka, which “cooks very well and gently.”

“If you’re looking for something to cook with, we suggest the Jonagold,” she said. “It’s a cross between a Jonathan which is sweet and a Golden which is tart, and it will cook all the way through and hold its shape.”

Also at Grandad’s Apples, find freshly baked apple pies, apple cider donuts, donut ice cream sandwiches and a fresh apple butter market and more.

Grandad's Apples offers apple cider, donuts, baked goods, jams and more from its Henderson County orchard.

Freshly squeezed apple cider, fermented apple cider, apple cider slushies and Mountain Glacier – frozen cider slushie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with oatmeal caramel apple cookies on top.

If you’re not sure what to do with your apple supply, try these apple recipes from Southern Kitchen:

Apple clafoutis with bourbon caramel sauce.

www.southernkitchen.com/story/recipes/2021/12/02/apple-clafoutis-caramel-sauce-comes-together-one-pan/8837616002/.

Apple pies.

www.southernkitchen.com/story/recipes/2021/07/22/quick-apple-hand-pies/8054971002/.

Apple cream cheese crumb cakes.

www.southernkitchen.com/story/recipes/2021/10/10/apple-cream-cheese-crumb-cakes-recipe/6085274001/

Tiana Kennell is a food and restaurant reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter/Instagram @PrincessOfPage. Help support this type of journalism by subscribing to the Citizen Times.

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