Mercier’s in Blue Ridge is a destination all on its own
with discoveries in every nook and cranny
|Mercier Orchard in Blue Ridge grows dozens of varieties of apples on its 300 acres.|
By Melissa Lowrie
Photos by Melissa Lowrie
Autumn means fried pie season in north Georgia ... oh, wait, I meant apple season.
The largest apple orchard in Georgia is Mercier’s in Blue Ridge. Besides the apple picking, they have one of the coolest markets anywhere. The shop is a destination all on its own with discoveries in every nook and cranny.
The U-pick days on weekends during the season draw the crowds — foraging for nature’s bounty on a late-summer day is a delight for any age. At just over 300 acres, the rolling hills of Fannin County provide a beautiful setting for the orchard.
Since 1943, the Mercier family has grown apples and other fruit on its land. It has become a tourist destination; there were cars in the lot from metro Atlanta and several surrounding states on the sunny Saturday we visited.
At $10 per bag we were told on the way to the picking spot to get “as many apples as you can fit in your bag and your belly.” Depending on the size of the apples you pick, of course, makes a difference in the size of your haul. One of our bags held 16 (my belly held two).
|Employees are available in the orchard to give instructions and guide visitors to the fruit.|
When we arrived at the designated area, we were directed to the apples that were ripe for picking. The Pink Ladies weren’t ready, but there were plenty of Golden Delicious and Mutsu. It was busy, but there were plenty of apples to go around.
Visitors are given brief instructions on how to pick ... don’t pull, twist. And it’s OK if you accidentally bounce one off the ground, it’s still good!
My favorite sight that day was kids (adults, too) figuring out how to eat an apple with one hand and pick an apple with the other. There is nothing like a fresh-picked apple, and sometimes you just can’t wait to try one.
One of two cider producers in the state, Mercier Orchards produces 80,000 gallons of cider every year. In the shop, you can buy it by the gallon or half gallon, frozen or just cold, in glass or plastic. I’m likely missing a choice, but you get the gist.
The shop is a must-see (or must-buy) spot. Everything that can be made from an apple is there. My kids loved the apple slushies; luckily, we made it out with just cider and our picked apples, but I can see how one could easily fill a basket. I’m told people come from miles around for the famous fried pies.
|The tractors take full loads of pickers into the orchards on U-pick days.|
Apple picking is a fun family activity and you get a bag (or two) of apples to take home. My kids, both of whom have taken yearly school field trips to various orchards, enjoyed the adventure. There were children of all ages picking, along with parents and grandparents. If you can make the step into the trailer for the tractor ride, you can enjoy picking in the orchard.
It was dry and dusty among the trees that day, so don’t wear your favorite shoes. And if you arrive at the designated picking area and decide you’d like to buy another bag, they sell more.
Blue Ridge has a vibrant downtown scene, so build time into your trip to stop and shop. The Sweet Shoppe cupcake bakery is a favorite of ours.
Wherever you take your Canoe Kids this season, have fun and enjoy the bounty of fall.
|This apple tree is heavy with fruit and ready for pickers.||With bags full of apples, it’s time to catch a ride back.||Apples at Mercier are ripe for the picking.|