Inhale. Exhale. Can you smell it? That crisp, mountain air means it’s autumn. Every year, my family gets as close to the Shenandoah Valley as possible to embrace fall outdoors. I just love the drive up Route 66, in jest. Past the hellacious traffic, down the roads filled with green pastures, silos, and crimson-tinged trees, fall is a fantastic time to go apple picking.
Stribling Orchard was the first pick-your-own orchard I had been to in my native Virginia. It’s been four years and enough time has passed that it was time to revisit Stribling to pick our all-time favorite fruit, apples.
When you pull into the property, you will see the 1700’s main house, Mountain View. The stone buildings adjacent to the home are that of the Olde Kitchen, Smoke House, Dairy, and Quarters, which are still used today by the Stribling family. The home and the surrounding 93 acres consist of apple and peach trees, with some of the apple trees dating back to the early 1900’s. Say hi to the farm animals that may come up to the fence, but be careful, they may bite.
Bring your own container from home or pick up a bag and picking pole from outside the Harvest House. What I love about Stribling is that you can drive your car through the actual orchard. Of course you can walk, but when you’re touting large quantities of fruit it can be difficult to carry. If you do decide to walk, it’s a 3/4 of a mile walk to the top of the orchard, where picnic tables lend to a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
While Stribling is not an organic farm, they use far less pesticides than what you find in the grocery store. Current PYO apple varieties include Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Rome, Fuji, York, and Stayman. Arrive early because come the weekend, the fruit is picked out pretty early. Luckily, there are also pre-picked varieties in abundance.
This year’s prices for PYO and pre-picked apples are $1.50/lb. for 1-20 lbs. down to $1 if you purchase 40 lbs. or more. One peck runs $15 all the way up to $40 for a bushel. Cash, Visa and Mastercard are accepted.
Do stop in the Harvest House where, of course, you can find a variety of apple everything from no sugar added butter, jelly, bbq sauce, salsa, cider, and cookbooks. Honey harvested from Stribling’s own bee hives, along with pumpkin butter, local eggs, cheeses, peanuts, chips, and cold drinks can be found here. There is also a large amount of pumpkins dotting the porch just waiting to decorate your home.
The bakery, which is only open on the weekends and closes for the season on October 27, makes homemade loaves including apple raisin bread, pumpkin pie, apple crumble pie, donuts, and other delights. Stake out your favorite early as quantities for some items are limited.
Stribling Orchard is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm until early November. They will reopen in July for PYO peaches and nectarines.
Photos by Kathleen Molloy.