Apples, Cider and Mountain Views Beckon Travelers to Hendersonville, NC

Apple season in the Blue Ridge Mountain town of Hendersonville has become a one-of-a-kind experience. For many couples and families, fall hasn’t officially arrived until they set foot in an apple orchard and pick a basketful of fresh fruit from the trees.

Henderson County is the seventh-largest apple producer in the United States. Many of its orchards have expanded their agritourism offerings, embracing the growing customer demand to know the story behind their food.

Sky Top Orchard grows 22 varieties of apples on 100 acres atop Mount McAlpine, just south of downtown Hendersonville. The lofty location provides long-range views.

Customers load their baskets with golden delicious, Jonagold and Granny Smith. Hayrides cruise through the farm, and passengers admire the sheep, goats, turkeys and ducks.

The made-while-you-watch apple cider doughnuts are nearly as popular as the apples. Customers line up as staff members mix the batter and drop rings into the hot oil. The freshly fried doughnuts are tossed in cinnamon and sugar and served warm.

At Grandad’s Apples N’ Such, a fourth-generation family farm, kids may ride a cow train, bounce on a jump pillow, wander through a corn maze, pick a pumpkin from the patch and meet barnyard animals. In addition to bushels of apples, Grandad’s also sells fresh cider, apple turnovers and caramel apples.

Sky Top and Grandad’s are two of 20 stops along the Crest of the Blue Ridge Orchard Trail. The self-guided trail allows visitors to pick from farms, markets and roadside stands to build their own apple-country itinerary. Free brochures are available at the Hendersonville Visitor Center or online at www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org.

With the area’s abundant apple production, Hendersonville has emerged as a leader in the growing hard cider market. Three cideries now operate in the county, and all use locally grown apples.

Bold Rock Hard Cider, the largest craft cidery in the country, opened a production facility and taproom in October 2015. Visitors may tour the apple pressing barn and cidery on Saturdays and Sundays. The taproom and cider garden maintain a family-friendly and dog-friendly atmosphere and often host concerts and events. Flat Rock Ciderworks operates a downtown tasting room on Hendersonville’s Main Street. Flights include their flagship apple and blackberry, as well as fruit-infused small batches with blueberry, cherry and pomegranate. Newcomer Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cider specializes in dry Old World-style ciders. The tasting room is located in a renovated barn surrounded by an orchard.

To plan your visit to Hendersonville apple country, go to www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org or call (800) 828-4244.

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