Pick Your Own Fall Bounty at These Farms Across the United States
Fill your baskets with cranberries, apples, grapes, maple syrup, and more.
As the temperatures begin to cool, leaves change into their autumnal colors, and we ease our way towards winter, this is the time of year when the bounty of some of our favorite fall harvests are at their freshest. Or, they are turned into some of our favorite fall-inspired drinks and treats. Here, we take a look at a sampling of some of the harvests happening across the country, and how you can experience them for yourself.
We all know the four seasons, but Fogo Island off the coast of Newfoundland celebrates an additional three seasons. Between spring and summer is Trap Berth Season, when lobsters and shrimp are the stars of the show and good thoughts for a successful fishing season are celebrated. Pack Ice Season falls between winter and spring, when vegetables preserved at their most flavorful are brought to the table to supplement seafood feasts.
In the fall, however, is the time for Berry Season, when bountiful berry bushes along Fogo Island's coastal trails are filled with more 20 types of edible berries, including blueberries, partridgeberries and marshberries (both of which are similar to cranberries), crowberries (look similar to blueberries), and honey-sweet bakeapples (also known as cloudberries). Throughout the month, the Fogo Island Inn is offering its A Berry Wild Time itinerary to take advantage of the local bounty.
It's cranberry harvest season in Wisconsin, which produces more than half of all cranberries in the world. Additionally, more than 60 percent of the United States' cranberry crops are in Wisconsin, grown on 21,000 acres across 20 counties. Needless to say, there are plenty of options when it comes to seeing a cranberry harvest in the Badger State. Hop on the Cranberry Highway that extends 50 miles across the state's cranberry growing region from Warren to Wisconsin Rapids, and stop along the way as you are so inclined. Start (or end, depending on which way you're traveling) at the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center in Warrens to brush up on all things cranberry. If you're feeling adventurous, take a bog tour at Wetherby Cranberry Co., a family farm that has been growing cranberries since 1903.
Cranberries are a big harvest in Massachusetts, too; the state has been harvesting its crops since 1816. This is the perfect time to visit a cranberry bog in Massachusetts; 95 percent of the state's berries will have been harvested by the end of October. The state's Cranberry Harvest Guide and list of farms offering ag-tourism and goodies for sale are terrific resources for planning your berry adventure. If you're ready to pull on your waders and get out in a bog yourself, make a reservation and become a Bogger for a Day at Benson's Pond in Middleboro, about 50 miles south of Boston. During your time in the bog, you won't just be standing around, but helping with the October harvest.
Your Instagram feed may already be filled with photos of your friends out in the orchards picking apples this season. It's the time of year when apple cider is poured, cider donuts are dunked in, and apple pies adorn dinner tables.
Apples are certainly nothing new, and the earliest record of cultivated apples dates back to a time before the U.S. even became the U.S. — 1623 in New England. The region, which includes Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, has had a strong apple growing tradition ever since. In fact, more than 120 varieties are grown throughout New England.
Bartlett's Apple Orchard and Farm Market in Massachusetts' Berkshires grows 13 varieties of apples to take home, including Macoun, Jona-Gold and Red Delicious. Be sure to stop by the market for fresh cider donuts and jugs of fresh-pressed cider to enjoy back home.
Across the country, Washington State's fall harvest brings in more than 100 million of apples annually, each box weighing about 40 pounds; this yield represents 65 percent of all U.S. fresh apple production. That's a lot of apples! Even more impressive: each and every Washington apple is picked by hand to maintain the quality of the apples and to protect them from bruising.
If you'd like to harvest some apples yourself, a handful or so of the state's u-pick options include Bellewood Farms in Lynden, Green Bluff Growers near Spokane, Swan's Trail Farms north of Seattle in Snohomish, and West Valley U-Pick in Yakima, southeast of Seattle.
One of the most popular fall harvests may very well be grapes, since their bounty means they will be crushed and new vintages of wine will be made.
The terroir of New York State's Finger Lakes Wine Country (south of Rochester) is conducive to winemaking due to the microclimate created by the lakes: the winter's extremely cold temperatures can be kept at bay, while summer's warm, breezy days help ripen the grapes. The lakes also serve as a protective barrier against extreme temperature fluctuations, which means the grapes have a longer growing season.
Harvest is well under way in the Finger Lakes, and you can be a part of it. Choose to taste along one of the region's three wine trails, or get into the vineyards yourself and start picking. Fulkerson Winery in Dundee offers u-pick grapes; October's varietals include Concord, Chancellor, Corot Noir, Noiret, Riesling, Vidal Blanc and Vincent. What will you do with your grapes? Aside from eating them, you can sign up for a home winemaking class on Saturdays throughout October to learn the craft.
Back across the country, the second largest producer of premium wine in the U.S. is Washington State. History shows that the state's first grapes were planted in 1825, and by 1860 were growing in the Walla Walla Valley, which was named America's Best Wine Region in the 2020 USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. Today, more than 400 wine grape growers are found throughout the state, producing more than 70 varieties across more than 60,000 acres and 16 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). Last year's harvest yielded 201,000 tons of grapes.
More than 1,000 wineries can be found throughout Washington, and the Walla Walla Valley will be celebrating this year's harvest during its Fall Release Weekend, scheduled for November 6-8. Over the course of the weekend, the valley's wineries will open their cellar doors and debut their new releases for tasting. Fall Release Weekend also features winemaker dinners, live music, art festivals, and more fun-filled (and socially-distanced) events.
Did you know that maple syrup production is exclusive to North America? It's true! Though maple trees can be found many places, the sugar maple is the species preferred to make syrup. What's more, the climate in which the trees live determines whether or not they can provide the sap needed to make maple syrup. That particular climate needs to be freezing cold at night and warm during the day to promote the sap to flow properly. That climate is found primarily in the North American northern states and provinces along the East Coast. In the U.S., those states are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin; and in Canada, the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec.
Though the sap isn't harvested until the colder weather has passed, New York Pure Maple is presenting its Fall Maple Tour through October 18; the tour had to be postponed from its original dates in March due to COVID. Celebrating its 25th year, the Maple Tour showcases the maple sugarmaking processes and traditions at locations across New York State; participants are included on a map to make planning easier. Next year's Maple Tour will be held March 20-21 and March 27-28, 2021.
Now that you're inspired, why not find a harvest near you and taste the flavors of fall?