Vermont's climate--with warm, sunny days and cool nights--makes the state a good place to grow apples. The state also offers a wealth of orchards to choose from when it comes to you-pick apple adventures. Since most apple-picking takes place in late September and October, consider combining an apple picking event with fall color sightseeing.
Orchards and farms have been growing apples in the state for more than 200 years. At first, three apples got all the attention: Baldwin, Northern Spy and Rhode Island Greening. Then, in 1870, the first McIntosh tree was planted in a Vermont orchard. By 1910, thousands of McIntosh trees from that strain were growing all over the state. Now, orchards growing dozens of varieties of apples, including antique varieties, offer pickers a wide choice.
Besides the tart and juicy McIntosh apple, a variety of other apples grow in Vermont including Ginger Gold, one of the earliest maturing apples. Popular apples such as Gala, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Rome also grow in a number of orchards. The state also boasts quite a few orchards that grow antique varieties such as Northern Spy, Fameuse, Tolman Sweet and Lady.
You-pick apple orchards may be found all over the state--calling the orchard before heading out makes the most sense to determine what varieties are ready for picking. Old antique apple varieties may be found in orchards in towns including South Hero, Waterbury Center, New Haven, South Burlington and Middlebury.
What to Bring
Bring plenty of containers to hold apples picked from the tree, although a few orchards do provide containers. To prevent sunburn, hats and sunscreen come in handy. Water, snacks and even a picnic lunch make the work more fun, especially if children are participating. Cameras to capture the day's events will provide memories for years to come.
Several festivals celebrating apples take place in Vermont each year, including one of the state's largest, the South Hero Applefest and Craft Show. This event takes place in the town of South Hero on Columbus Day weekend. The festival features wagon rides, crafts, entertainment, a flea market, petting zoo and plenty of food including a cider making contest, orchard tours and apples to sample.