Essential Guide to Apple Season

10 Delicious Destinations to Taste that Shenandoah Flavor

Cool breezes and crisp apples call for family adventures! In the Shenandoah Valley, our mineral rich soils and steep mountain hollows cultivate true fall flavor. From can’t-miss family traditions of apple picking to artisanal ciders and one special cheesecake, these ten destinations offer the sweetest of apple adventures.

Pick Your Own

Truly ripe fruit right off the trees simply cannot be shipped, so these Shenandoah Valley pick-your-own orchards promise farm-fresh apples and full-family fun. 

Mackintosh Fruit Farm is nestled in the beautiful Northern Shenandoah Valley, on land the farmers have cared for since childhood. Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, York, and Fuji apples are the stars, with play equipment and outdoor seating for family picnics. Not to worry if you don’t pack a snack — their farm store provides freshly baked goods including apple cider doughnuts. Further south, Sunrise Orchards adds Jonathan apples, freshly bottled honey, and a seasonal pumpkin patch to the mix.

Surrounded by breath-taking valley views, Showalters Orchard grows more than 26 varieties of apples. In operation since 1965, children roam the orchards and enjoy the fresh-pressed cider available from mid-September through Christmas. Adults won’t want to miss visiting their Old Hill Cider Tasting Room to sample the Shenandoah Valley’s original hard cider. Ciders such as Yesteryear, Farmhand, Cidermaker’s Barrel, Betwixt, Off The Press, Virginia Strawberry, and Season’s Finish are among the seasonal options available for tasting and purchase. 

 

Drink in the Flavor

For another cider option, try Rockbridge County’s Halcyon Days Cider Co, where the word halcyon describes a time when the best things in life weren’t rushed, they were savored. This philosophy is used to craft small batch ciders with no artificial additives or flavorings. Order fresh, genuine cider from their log cabin bar, or take a stroll through the hilltop labyrinth among 2,000 apple trees.

Born in a barn, Blue Toad Cider honors the tradition and legacy of America’s first preferred beverage by brewing an all-natural and eminently drinkable hard cider using VA’s Blue Ridge Mountain apples. Their new taproom in Waynesboro also features one-of-a-kind seasonal drinks such as the cidermosa and cider floats. 

Explore the agricultural intersections of grape and apple growing by visiting Kindred Pointe Vineyard, where Life is Hard Ciders pair perfectly with a wine tasting, a walk around the pond, and fall foliage yard games. Barren Ridge Vineyards features a seasonal apple wine, crafted in the style of a white wine and pairing deliciously with a Thanksgiving meal. 

 

Celebrate the Season

At Wade’s Mill Apple Butter Festival, take home a jar of slow-simmered apple butter prepared the old-fashioned way, in an antique copper kettle over an open fire. Enjoy bluegrass music, blacksmith demonstrations, local cider and wine, and fresh homemade Wade’s Mill bread, from the oldest continually operating commercial grist mill in Virginia. 

 

Taste the Sweetness

No visit to the Shenandoah Valley is complete without eating lots of food! Stroll through the historic streets of Staunton before settling in for a few courses. Visit The Shack, serving grilled pork loin with fermented sweet potato grits, fried apples and mizuna, followed by chocolate cremeux with smoked apple butter. Or drop by Zynodoa Restaurant, where their seasonally rotating menu and beautifully handcrafted cocktails complement a New York style cheesecake with brandy apple compote and salted caramel.

However you choose to savor the season, three cheers to the crispness of Shenandoah apples, whose textures and tastes capture the changing of the light, the reddening of the leaves, and the richness of fall better than any flavor we know!