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It’s Apple Picking Time

By Mirror Staff

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

With its wealth of resources, natural, nautical, cultural and otherwise, Lake George can afford to acknowledge that other regions possess some advantages that we lack, such as apple orchards.

Fortunately, for those who like their apples and ciders straight from the orchard, or who want an afternoon of apple picking, hay rides and sweets with the kids, there are plenty of orchards nearby, in Vermont and in Washington and Essex Counties.

Champlain Orchards, in Shoreham, Vermont, is easily accessible from Bolton, Hague and Ticonderoga by way of the Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, which runs continuously from 8 am to 6 pm through October 31.

Throughout the northeast, orchardists are boasting of an outstanding apple crop, due, in part to last year’s poor one. (Apparently, after a light crop, the trees rebound with extra fervor.) Champlain Orchards, an organic, 100-year-old family owned operation that labels its product “Vermont fruit grown with a conscience” is no exception.

Owners Andrea Scott and Bill Suhr and their staff grow roughly fifty varieties of apples, rather than the few, unexceptional varieties available from most local orchards.

Champlain Orchard owners Bill Suhr and Andrea Scott and their son Rupert

Champlain Orchard owners Bill Suhr and Andrea Scott and their son Rupert

According to Ben Calvi, who’s in charge of the orchard’s cidery, some of those varieties are heirloom, others have been introduced to provide consumers with better, more complex tasting fruit.

Eighteen varieties are available for picking by visitors themselves, or can be purchased at the orchard’s bustling farm market.

Cider doughnuts, freshly baked apple pies, unpasteurized cider and several varieties of hard ciders and ice ciders (a variation on ice wine made from frozen apple juice rather than grapes), are also available in the market.

If you prefer your fresh cider tart, now’s the time to purchase it, says Ben Calvi. The later the harvest, the sweeter the cider, he told us.

Champlain Orchards is open daily from 9am to 6 pm through October 31. Call 802-897-2777.

These days, many hard ciders are meant to be paired with foods rather than swilled in pubs, and the Slyboro Ciderhouse at Hicks Apple Orchard in Granville, Washington County, has been the focus of a renewed interest in America’s traditional beverage of choice.

In addition to being a ciderhouse that’s visited by hard cider makers and cider enthusiasts from Europe and other states, Slyboro has a tasting room where visitors can sample the wares and receive the benefits of staff recommendations.

Hicks Orchard also offers apple picking, a gift shop and a market.

For information about Hicks, call 518-642-1788.

Other nearby orchards where you can pick your own apples include: Gunnison Lakeshore Orchards, Route 22, Crown Point, 597-9222.

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