The last U-Pick weekend at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, GA is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am-4pm each day. On the branches now are Pink Ladies, Fujis and Braeburns with early season Beni Shoguns still dappling a few trees. Unlike the produce aisle at the grocery store, testing the merchandise is encouraged; orchard policy! Sorry folks, no more Granny Smiths but they are available in the orchard store along with many other early season varieties already bundled to take home. The orchard is very hilly which means boots, sneakers or a good pair of tread shoes are recommended. Cute hats and scarves optional.
Each variety of apple has its own unique taste and purpose, so study up before you hop on the tractor to the orchard.
Beni Shogun: In season during September, an earlier ripening version of the Fuji. Yellow, very sweet and lightly crispy.
Braeburn: In season October-April. Red, orange in color with a mixture of sweet and tart flavors. Ideal for baking tarts or pies.
Fuji: In season Mid-October. Sweet and crunchy. A great snacking apple.
Pink Lady: A late season bloomer, October-November. Firm, sweet, but tart. A great apple to both snack on and use in cooking. Good for apple butter or preserving as well as baking.
**Caution! The yellow jackets are particularly bad this year. The staff in the orchard have allergy and first aid kits on hand in case of emergency.
Before you head home, make sure to stop by the bakery located in the orchard store for a fried pie and to pick up a couple dozen Apple Cider donuts! Everything is baked fresh on site.
New to Mercier this year is the Hard Cider Tasting Room. Yes, hard cider made from Mercier’s apples all pressed, fermented and distilled on site. Currently they have three flavors to choose from Old #3, Black Bee and Lone Tree with more flavors on the way! These delicious ciders are all natural with no preservatives. The tasting room is serving a flight of four ciders (one which is not available yet) to those 21 years or older. Purchase a pint of your favorite brew for $5 and then bring a bottle or four home with you for $9 a piece. These ciders are only available through the Tasting store but there is talk of broadening the operation to accomodate wholesale markets in the Atlanta area! You hearing this, Tower Package?
Mercier Orchard Store is open Monday – Sunday from 7am – 8pm.
U-Pick/Tractor Rides are available through the end of October, Friday – Sunday from 10am – 4pm
Dark Harvest Haunted Tractor Tour is available Friday, October 26, Saturday, October 27 and Wednesday, October 31 from 8pm – 11pm.